PENTICTON – The Government of British Columbia will spend $30,000 to train small and medium-sized business owners to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, reports Christine McLaren in TheTyee.ca.

“We believe B.C. businesses want to reduce their carbon footprint and prepare for the opportunities of the emerging green economy,” said Minister of State for Climate Action John Yap in a press release. “These workshops will give firms the tools they need to become more competitive and demonstrate climate leadership in a low-carbon world.”

Twenty business leaders will receive $1,500 scholarships from the provincial government to attend three half-day Climate Smart workshops in Kamloops and Kelowna this summer. Climate Smart is a for-profit division of non-profit Ecotrust Canada which advises businesses on greenhouse gas emission reductions.

The workshops will focus on measuring and reducing greenhouse gasses emissions, with a secondary emphasis on carbon offsetting and public communication of the results.

“The companies come out of that process with a complete inventory that’s been reviewed by us, a list of strategies that they plan to pursue to reduce their emissions, and prepared to make an informed decision around purchasing offsets,” said Michelle Bonner, Director of Training with Climate Smart.

Business owners and Climate Smart also follow up with a secondary emissions inventory a year later to chart their progress.

Bonner says that the program’s focus on small and medium sized businesses is essential, as these are “largely overlooked” by climate change policy and initiatives.

“A lot of attention has been paid to the large emitters who will eventually likely be regulated under the Western Climate Initiative policies coming. And a lot of attention has been paid to individual households, but there’s been very little around small and medium sized businesses.”

The workshops take into consideration the low budget of smaller businesses, guiding them toward “low hanging fruit,” or low-cost actions such as anti-idling policies or switching off lights.

Yet while the program is money well spent in the eyes of program directors, it is not a guarantee of better practices.

Businesses receiving the government scholarships will be selected from a pool of applicants randomly, not by business plan, and will not be required to implement any specific changes after the workshops.

“There’s no requirement or assumption that the companies coming through here will become carbon neutral,” said Bonner.

Workshops will take place elsewhere in the province starting this fall.

Christine McLaren reports for The Tyee