• The report by Quebec Net Positive outlines the need for and benefits of transitioning to a low-carbon economy.
  • Quebec SMEs are considering actions like hiring staff for sustainability roles, replacing fossil fuel equipment, and workforce training to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Energy productivity, circular economy, and Industry 5.0 are emerging as key transition pathways.
  • The initiative identifies opportunities for regional support in climate action, emphasizing the importance of government direction, financial incentives, and collaborative research for a successful transition.

In an era where environmental sustainability is not just a choice but a necessity, Quebec’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing sector are at a pivotal juncture. The recent report released by Quebec Net Positive, a non-profit think tank, sheds light on the first year of the “SMEs in Transition” project. This groundbreaking initiative, supported by the Government of Canada and Laurentian Bank, aims to catalyze the implementation of climate action within Quebec’s manufacturing SMEs.

At the heart of the report lies the recognition of the complex challenges SMEs face. Economic uncertainties and complex value chains make integrating climate action into business strategy a daunting task. Despite these challenges, the report points out that climate action presents not just risks but significant business opportunities.

“The collaborative action research format of SMEs in Transition allows us to be in the field, with collaborators committed to multiplying exchanges between de various stakeholders in the business ecosystem in order to generate new knowledge, with a common goal of triggering the move to action and the implementation of climate actions by manufacturing SMEs,”

Katrin Hauschild, Deputy General Manager and SMEs in Transition Leader, Quebec Net Positive

Key elements identified in the report for Quebec’s SMEs to engage in this transformation include the implementation of sustainability actions like hiring specialized staff, replacing fossil fuel-powered equipment, and enhancing workforce training. These actions are vital to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the report highlights emerging trends such as energy productivity, the circular economy, and industrial symbiosis as pathways for the transition.

The research emphasizes the role of Communities of Practice (CoP) as a collaborative format with strong knowledge-building potential within the manufacturing sector. CoPs offer a flexible learning mode that fosters trust and encourages the sharing of best practices among peers. Moreover, the concept of foresight, although relatively unknown in the business community, is highlighted as crucial for anticipating and navigating future challenges.

The report, compiled through a collaborative action research approach, underscores the need for clear governmental directives, financial incentives, and support systems to guide SMEs in identifying and implementing profitable and relevant climate actions. This call for support is echoed by Anne-Josée Laquerre, Executive Director & Co-Founder of Quebec Net Positive, who stresses the importance of SMEs being aware of the risks and opportunities presented by the sustainability-driven economic transition.

“It is vital for the whole of the Quebec economy that its nearly 250,000 SMEs, which employ over 2 million workers, are aware of the risks and opportunities of the significant economic transition underway, and successfully engage in it. We look forward to the second year of our collaborative action research activities. Each new meeting is an opportunity to learn together, build bridges and take one more step towards transition.”

Anne-Josée Laquerre, Executive Director & Co-Founder of Quebec Net Positive

The initiative, part of 16 research projects funded under the Climate Action and Awareness Fund of the Environmental Damages Fund, is administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada. These projects aim to fill knowledge gaps and support the Net-Zero Advisory Board’s mission of helping Canada achieve greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050.

“SMEs in Transition” is carried out with the support of regional collaborators, practitioners, experts, and academic researchers, reflecting a diverse and holistic approach to understanding and addressing the challenges of transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Partners like ADDERE Service-conseil (Estrie), Conseil régional de l’environnement de la Montérégie, and Excellence industrielle Saint-Laurent (Montreal), among others, play a pivotal role in this collaborative effort.

The report not only presents the current state of Quebec’s manufacturing SMEs in the context of sustainability but also sets the stage for future developments. With a focus on collaboration, innovation, and a proactive approach, Quebec’s manufacturing sector is poised to lead the way in the global shift towards a sustainable, low-carbon future.

For more information and to download the full report, please visit Quebec Net Positive’s website.

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