A diverse group of 22 Canadian broadcast outlets have agreed to coordinate their climate and sustainability initiatives and “embed environmentally sustainable thinking” in their non-news programming.
Canadian Broadcasters for Sustainability announced itself in mid-June at the Banff World Media Festival. In July, Lisa Clarkson, CBC’s executive director of business & rights and production sustainability, described the initiative as an all-time first.
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“This is the very first time in the history of Canadian broadcasting that such a broad and wide group of broadcasters have come together around any issue. Any issue,” she said. “Public and private, big and small, niche and not, territorial, provincial, and national. It’s never happened before. So when I say the pace of change in Canada has really been remarkable, this is absolutely one indicator.”
The group has set no quantitative targets for its members. The announcement contained more general commitments to increase the “scope and impact” of broadcasters’ sustainability actions; measure and address the carbon impact of broadcast productions; reach more audiences with content that supports sustainable choices, informed by science; and “understand and consult with marginalized communities that are disproportionately affected by climate change”.
The (mostly) 2026 goals in CBC’s own Greening Our Story strategy include a 25% carbon reduction by 2022, a 15% energy reduction, a 50% fleet target for fuel-efficient or alternative energy vehicles, sustainability procurement criteria in 25% of requests for proposals (RFPs), a 25% travel reduction, and use of carbon calculators for all in-house programming and 50% of independent productions.
Clarkson stressed that both the industry-wide initiative and the CBC targets focus on drama, comedy, documentaries, children’s programming, podcasting, and sports—but not news or current affairs.
“For news-based organizations, there is always great, great care taken with journalistic independence and trust,” she explained. “Those journalistic standards and practices dictate our independence, and also the trust the public has to have in us.”
Clarkson declined to compare that relationship of trust with the way Google and Facebook have been treating Canadian communities, some of them facing emergency evacuations, by restricting access to news in their ongoing dispute with the federal government.
“I’ll leave that for others,” she said. But “I do believe that Canadian broadcasters live and breathe the communities they’re in, and this is another example of how we work together to become more sustainable and serve those communities and audiences that we’re a part of.”
News organizations participating in Canadian Broadcasters for Sustainability include: Accessible Media Inc., Asian Television Network, Bell Media, Blue Ant Media, CBC/Radio-Canada, Channel Zero, CHEK Media, Corus Entertainment, Hollywood Suite, Knowledge Network, New Tang Dynasty (Canada), Nunavut Independent Television Network, OUTtv, Pelmorex Corp., Remstar Media, Rogers Sports & Media, Super Channel, Télé-Québec, TFO, TV5, TVO, and Wildbrain.