As climate change is a complex, global issue, building resilience to its negative effects requires cooperative effort. Individuals, businesses and governments all must do their part to combat climate change.
Forrest Wolfe’s upbringing as a member of Kettle and Stoney Point First Nation in Ontario emphasized the importance of living in harmony with the Earth.
In addition, as a 21 year-old college student, he understands that finding solutions to environmental challenges will depend on young people like him. “I feel like my generation is more aware of what’s happening with the world and with environmental issues like climate change,” he says. “We need to take action, because we’re going to be the generation that has to deal with these problems.”
With the passage of the 2009 Green Energy and Green Economy Act, Ontario dramatically increased the region’s capacity for renewable energy production. According to research from the Association of Power Producers in Ontario, progress made since the Act was passed added enough generating capacity to power over eight million new homes while creating an estimated 180,000 direct and indirect jobs in the solar and wind sectors. Many of these jobs have benefitted Indigenous communities. In the past eight years, the growing renewable energy sector has created 15,300 direct jobs for Indigenous Canadians who have earned approximately $842 million in employment income.
Forrest sees an opportunity for a fulfilling career in one of Canada’s growing industries — while also living in accord with his beliefs. He is studying at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario to become a Renewable Energy Technician with a focus on wind power.
Finding his way
Forrest found his calling by attending a TREC Education program focused on building awareness of careers that have a positive impact on the environment. Sponsored by Scotiabank, each year TREC Education leads a series of workshops and programs to introduce young Indigenous people to opportunities in the growing renewable energy sector, promote energy conservation, and show young people how they can help fight climate change. Last year, 215 First Nations youth participated in the program in Ontario.
Impacts of the program
The program sparks an interest in this career path for many of its participants. According to TREC Education research, six months after completing the program, approximately 65% of program participants reported that they were either “interested” or “very interested” in pursuing a career in the green economy. Forrest says such responses are indicative of his peers’ environmental values.
“We can all be a part of the solution.”
The number of cars and buses on Bogotá, Colombia’s streets has increased steadily over the past decade. As a result, commuters are spending more time than ever stuck in traffic during peak hours, and many residents have had to change their routines to account for the extra time required to travel through the city.
The effects of too much traffic
Dense traffic has begun to seriously impact several aspects of life in Bogotá. Overly crowded streets prevent goods, services, and workers from getting to where they need to go. Emissions from vehicles are affecting health: Bogotá’s air is not safe to breathe according to WHO standards, and many citizens are facing respiratory infections due to poor air quality. As the cars lining the streets of Bogotá produce more carbon dioxide, the climate in Bogotá and its surrounding areas are becoming warmer. As a result, several regions in Colombia are experiencing an increase in natural disasters, such as flooding and landslides.
Eduardo Bohórquez, an employee of Banco Colpatria (Scotiabank’s Colombian subsidiary) since 2010, has experienced Bogotá’s traffic firsthand. His commute to Torre Colpatria — Colpatria’s iconic 50-story tower in downtown Bogotá — has increased dramatically.
Eduardo explains: “Just getting to work in a car takes me at least an hour and a half, and sometimes even two.
“That’s two hours that I am sitting in a car, going nowhere, and polluting the air.”
Make way for the bicyclists
Fortunately, Eduardo has a more environmentally responsible option available to him. Along with several of his colleagues, Eduardo participates in a new Colpatria initiative called A La Torre en Bici (“To the Tower by Bike”) that aims to reduce pollution and congestion by encouraging more employees to commute by bike. At the base of Torre Colpatria (Colpatria’s headquarter building), the Bank has built a “cycloparqueadero” — or bicycle parking lot — that features amenities designed specifically for bicycle commuters like Eduardo, including 160 secure bike parking units and 200 lockers for personal belongings and showers that allow employees to rinse off after their commute.
“Commuting by bike helps improve air quality and fights climate change by using a means of transportation that does not rely on fossil fuels to operate.” explains Eduardo. “And it also is good for me. I can spend more time with my family. It takes between 50 and 55 minutes to commute from work on my bike — roughly half the time it would take using other means of transport. And I can tell you that my energy, health and productivity have all improved considerably.”
Leading the way
The effects of Colpatria’s transportation initiative also extend beyond Eduardo and his colleagues at the bank. A la Torre en Bici has begun to have a ripple effect on other businesses in downtown Bogotá. A handful of companies have followed Colpatria’s example and now encourage their employees to bike to work.
Eduardo is seeing many more cyclists during his commute: “The fact that Colpatria’s building is an icon of the city allows us to be noticed and set an example. We can be an incentive for other companies to instill environmental awareness and a commitment to green mobility in Bogotá.”
Better Future, Better Off
Eduardo sees A la Torre en Bici as an important way that Colpatria is working toward a better future for everyone. “Bicycle commuting is better. I release a lot of stress with exercise during my commute and I feel that I am more productive for our customers because of it.”
However, the benefits of the initiative aren’t just individual — they also extend to the entire city and its environment. “Climate change and air quality are big problems — far too big for just one person or even one organization to make much of a difference. Resiliency depends on cooperative efforts.” Initiatives such as Colpatria’s A la Torre en Bici influence beyond the Bank, helping catalyze efforts to collectively combat climate change and reduce our impact on the environment. With all of the bike commuters on the streets of Bogotá, that’s what this initiative is starting to accomplish.”
With a population of over 21 million people (and growing), more people than ever rely on cars to move around Mexico City. Due to limited public transportation and jobs spread throughout the city, Mexico’s capital is now the most congested city in the world according to Tom Tom’s 2016 Traffic Index. This congestion is causing great havoc in the city.
The Mexican Government has worked for decades to mitigate Mexico City’s air pollution problems with legislation. But pollution in Mexico City is a complicated problem. Mexico City lies in a high-altitude area with concentrated air pollution as a result of the number of cars in the city. Additionally, scientists have shown how warming trends harm air quality — especially in Mexico City, where average temperatures are rising. Legislation alone hasn’t been able to solve the problem. In March of 2016, the Mexico City Government declared an emergency due to unsafe ozone levels in the air.
Looking for the silver lining
Aureliano Arturo García Valenzuela, Automotive Credit Director in Scotiabank México, sees an opportunity within this situation: “We have a big problem with pollution, and displacement in Mexico City. So we said, ‘Well, our city has a problem. What can we do to help?’”
That question has inspired the CrediAuto’s Green Credit for eco-friendly vehicles.
Similar to many other regions in the world, the price of a hybrid or electric vehicle in Mexico is higher than a traditional car. However, the price of the vehicle is not the only cost associated with owning a car. Aureliano explains, “We wanted to create in the customer’s mind the idea that it is not that expensive to have a green car — the savings a customer will see in taxes saved and lower gas purchases at the end of 36 months will be higher than what they would save if they bought a gasoline car.”
To offset the difference in the initial cost, CrediAuto’s Green Credit program offers a great deal of benefits to customers who want to buy an eco-friendly car, including a preferential rate and a cash-back “environmentally friendly bonus”. Along with fuel savings and government incentives, the program seeks to make owning an eco-friendly vehicle accessible to more people.
Buying a car is a very important financial decision — and many customers are still somewhat wary of buying a hybrid or electric vehicle because of the additional cost. As green technology moves toward mass acceptance, Scotiabank is playing a vital role in this shift toward a greener future — helping reassure customers who are still in the process of deciding what kind of car to buy.
“The future in the automotive industry is going toward electric and hybrid cars. Five or ten years from now, electric cars are not going to be a trend, but the standard. We see a great opportunity here”, says Aureliano.
“So when a customer calls Scotiabank to ask about this credit or about cars, we answer all of their doubts. Whether they go with a gasoline car or electric car, we respect their financial decision.”
“But if they have at least some interest in buying an electric car, we will give them as much information as possible. We will let them know where they can charge their cars and how much electricity they will use if they charge them at home. We really want to make them feel confident that they are making a sound financial decision”, he explains.
Making customers better off
As customer attitudes change, the CrediAuto Green Credit is one of the ways Scotiabank is supporting its belief that every customer has the right to become better off. As Aureliano explains, the green credit is an important way to serve environmentally minded customers. “The customer that is interested in buying this car is interested in living in a better world, in a world that is less polluted — that’s what ‘better off’ means to them. By making these vehicles accessible, I think that we are making life for customers of green cars better every day.”
Here’s how we reduce our impact on climate change.