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Cities offer significant opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through smart investments in transport infrastructure and green technologies

Paris is referred to as the City of Light, in part because it was one of the first European cities to adopt gas street lighting. In December, Paris will host COP21, a global climate change meeting, and our hope is that this critical meeting will lay a clear and bright path to a more sustainable energy and environmental future.

It is possible – but only if COP21 talk is translated into action. Along with governmental leadership, capital investment and technology innovation on the part of business and cities is the only way to move towards meaningful climate change.

We need to dramatically scale-up clean tech, clean energy and sustainable infrastructure innovation in industries such as the electricity and oil and gas sectors, transit, inter-model shipping, manufacturing, agriculture and natural resources to effectively reduce global and Canadian greenhouse gas emissions. That is the global business imperative.

Of course, it is much easier said than done. It requires a completely new mindset to catalyze our transition to a sustainable energy future.

Now is the time for cities worldwide to embrace a 100 per cent renewable energy future – a powerful people-centered, climate-friendly and economically prosperous goal.
Mike Gerbis (top) and Chris Henderson

Without a doubt, public policy leadership is imperative. Canada's new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, deserves credit for inviting provincial leaders to join Canada's delegation to the Paris Climate Change conference. All governments need to rapidly move to establish a pan-Canadian climate change framework connected to a Canadian energy strategy. The approach needs to foster co-operation with the United States and other global partners on energy and climate issues.

Climate-proactive public policy has the potential to catalyze Canadian low-carbon technology and services solutions that can be exported to global markets. Early entrants into such new economy, enterprise and employment-friendly trade opportunities will have a competitive advantage. The Pacific-Indian oceans nexus will be the hub of sustainable energy infrastructure growth, underpinned by the economies of the U.S., China and India.

The carbon marketplace is just emerging. As industry sectors and cities consider capital investment in sustainable solutions, buyers need to be connected with sellers. This requires new modes of market relationships and a more collaborative commercial approach to matching low-carbon demand with value-additive solutions.

More than 80 per cent of Canadians, and a growing number of people around the world, live in cities. The greenhouse gas emissions footprint of homes, institutions and businesses is moulded by urban design, energy sources, transport infrastructure and nature. Compellingly, now is the time for cities worldwide to embrace a 100 per cent renewable energy future – a powerful people-centered, climate-friendly and economically prosperous goal.

Not to be underestimated is the pivotal decision-making role of large corporations. These global enterprises will be at the forefront of carbon innovation as they fuse business strategy with corporate social responsibility in a climate change future reality. As corporations undergo a transition to a cleaner energy, they will certainly have to engage with communities, NGOs and indigenous peoples.

Innovation for a low-carbon future is the product of a business-government-society collaboration and creativity. Society is ready. Let's make sure our political and business actions, following the time spent in the City of Light, both illuminate and mobilize business innovation for the planet.

This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.