A Talk with Galen Weston – CEO of Loblaws

14 Dec

This morning at the contact group on the Annex 1 parties emission reduction meeting, we bumped into Galen Weston, the CEO of Loblaw Companies Limited. He graciously accepted a quick interview following the session however he did not allow us to take video. When asked about his role at the conference as an advisor to Jim Prentice, he told us that he was there to listen to feedback from people like us and provide his opinion on matters as the head of the largest grocer in Canada. So, we discussed Canada’s low targets with him, the possibility of Canadian leadership at this conference, and the issue of financing for other less developed countries for adaptation and technology transfer. 

When we asked him about the tar sands in Alberta, his response was that they are not going to be closed down because of their enormous money generating capacity, so it is best to look for the most environmentally friendly way to continue oil extraction and put a regulatory framework in place for oil companies to adhere to. He mentioned the urgency for this to take place as the developments are occuring so quickly and haphazzardly right now because oil giants know that stricter regulations are on their way. He gave a pretty standard doom and gloom answer about losing all jobs in canada if we attempt to move for a green energy economy and likened it to slow European growth over the past decade. Also, some of the difficulty with slowing down tar sands development lies within our political system, as the provinces have a lot of power over energy policy and therefore Alberta will need to get on board (obviously unlikely). 

We heard more about creating a new carbon market and trading emissions credits and he expanded a bit on how a framework for this in Canada will make it easier to have long term investment in green energy projects. Investment is already coming as we know that legislation is on it’s way he said. 

We talked with him also about the need to have the U.S., China, India, and Brazil brought into a new agreement as they are accounting for somewhere in the range of 90% of new emissions. 

As any advisor to a Conservative government would be expected to say,
“Don’t underestimate the market’s power to make change” was heard at least once. And it is difficult to disagree with this statement when we’ve seen Loblaws take reusable shopping bags and organic foods to the forefront of the Canadian food industry.

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One Response to “A Talk with Galen Weston – CEO of Loblaws”

  1. Chris December 14, 2009 at 7:02 pm #

    How do we start a couple of threads.
    I like to hear both sides of the arguments that the tar sands is only slight more of a carbon issue, relating it to the total life cycle.
    Relating to the last item, the solution to the problem, is to make solution the preferred business operating mode.

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