20240529 GFL HAMILTON

Can cash ever be green?

What does a ‘green economy’ mean — can a bank’s emissions reduction promises truly curb its hunger for profit? In a new collaboration with The Local, we look for answers

One of my favourite parts about working at The Narwhal is just how close our colleagues at The Local are — they’re our upstairs office neighbours, and we get to have lunch together every now and then.

And like us, they’re part of a non-profit newsroom that cares about creating a future for smart, accessible journalism. Like us, their reporters, editors and operations manager get very excited about potlucks. The idea for the collaborative series we launched this week, The Green* Economy, probably originated over a spread of Trinidadian doubles, Vietnamese salad rolls, mushroom bruschetta, biryani, homemade cake and okay, fine, a salad. 

The Narwhal and The Local have different mandates — we cover the natural world in Canada while they’re all about urban health and social issues in Toronto. The common ground? We’re both focused on centring the humanity of people often dismissed by those in power. But when it comes to the frustrating inertia with which governments and institutions are tackling the climate emergency, we both agree the focus should actually be on power. Too many who hold that power often wield it to prioritize profits that jeopardize the one planet we’ve got. Money might make the world go round — but a healthy economy isn’t more important than a healthy planet. 

For all the talk about carbon capture and net-zero commitments, none of us were convinced the pursuit of profit is slowing down as the urgency of climate mitigation ramps up. And without real, widespread commitment to curb global warming, the inequities and tragedies both our outlets cover are only going to get more serious. 

And so, we decided, it was time to put the money makers under our shared microscope.

TD Future Cities Centre at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto.
The Narwhal and The Local investigated solutions to bring down carbon emissions from buildings in Toronto — including innovations out of the TD Future Cities Centre at Evergreen Brick Works. Photo: Chloë Ellingson / The Local / The Narwhal

To explore the intersection of cash and climate, The Local and The Narwhal have put together a two-week long series we’re calling The Green* Economy, with an asterisk to indicate our healthy and needed skepticism. We’ve already published a couple of banger investigations into huge institutions — the waste management company GFL and Canada’s biggest bank, RBC — whose environmental promises seemingly contradict their actions on the ground. We also examined the cost of reducing emissions from Toronto’s buildings, and just who should foot the bill. 

Next week, we’ll explore how traditional auto mechanics are being sidelined by electric vehicle manufacturers, and what that means for workers and consumers alike. There’s another massive company — one that sends most Ontarians a bill every month — in our sights, and, since we’re talking about money, we’ll look at just how much nature itself is worth. But more on that later.

Until then, go check out our stories published so far here, or on The Local’s site, where you can also peruse other incredible reporting on essential issues in Toronto.

Take care and be a good neighbour,

Denise Balkissoon
Ontario bureau chief

See similar stories

Heat, humidity, wildfires: what the weather report reveals about your health risks

For many Canadians, the summer months are a precious reprieve from long, cold and dark winters. Summer is for barbecues and beach days, camping and...

Continue reading

Recent Posts

Our newsletter subscribers are the first to find out when we break a big story. Sign up for free →
An illustration, in yellow, of a computer, with an open envelope inside it with letter reading 'Breaking news.'
Our newsletter subscribers are the first to find out when we break a major investigation. Want in? Sign up for free to get the inside scoop on The Narwhal’s reporting on the natural world.
Hey, are you on our list?
An illustration, in yellow, of a computer, with an open envelope inside it with letter reading 'Breaking news.'
Our newsletter subscribers are the first to find out when we break a major investigation. Want in? Sign up for free to get the inside scoop on The Narwhal’s reporting on the natural world.
Hey, are you on our list?
An illustration, in yellow, of a computer, with an open envelope inside it with letter reading 'Breaking news.'