On Feb. 11 and 12, 2020 at the Innovation Showcase, over 100 exhibitors in five different clusters and 12 pavilions brought us the latest and greatest in cleantech and the green economy. In addition, exhibitors and experts from the GLOBE community delivered insightful presentations on the Invest in Canada Stage.
Read on for the key takeaways from a few select Innovation Showcase sessions.
The European Green Deal – A Trillion Dollar Circular Economy Opportunity
- First announced in December 2019, the EU Green Deal provides a road map to make Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
- Supported by investments in green technologies, sustainable solutions and new businesses, the deal is structured to be a new EU growth strategy.
- The speakers emphasized the importance of the right market conditions (pricing, incentives, etc.) and industry collaboration to a successful circular economy.
“No single country can transition to a circular economy by themselves, value chains are global. We need this to be a global effort. This is an area of great economic opportunity.”—Ernesto Hartikainen, Sitra Fund
Industry and Innovation: How to get to Zero Plastic Waste
- Extended producer responsibility is a hugely important driver of reducing plastic waste. Consumers need to be offered options.
- Industry needs to continue to push ambitious goals in shifting their product design while continuing to educate the consumer on recycling and re-use best practices.
“Brands are putting out big audacious goals and stepping up to meet them.”—Isabelle Des Chênes, Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC)
Beyond Canada’s Borders: International Cleantech Opportunities
- The European Green Deal, Sustainable Europe Investment Plan, and individual country commitments to climate neutrality present a wide range of opportunities for Canadian cleantech firms, with billions of dollars on the table. Innovation is needed across the board, including renewable electricity generation, transportation solutions (e.g., alternative fuels such as hydrogen), advancements in the circular economy, and putting waste materials to work.
- Emerging international emissions trading mechanisms under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, specifically Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs), could present opportunities in the future for Canadian firms to leverage European financing to deliver cleantech projects around the world.
Government of Canada Cleantech Challenges Launch
- The Clean Growth Hub has been created to streamline funding access and scale Canadian solutions across nine challenge areas.
- Sign up for the newsletter at www.Canada.ca/innovative-solutions to keep up to speed on Innovative Solutions Canada challenges and weekly updates.
- Any company who responds to one of the challenge themes (as long as the submission meets all the challenge criteria) will receive peer-reviewed feedback from business and scientific viewpoints, including how to write and prepare the submission for the future.
“The Clean Growth Hub brings together 16 different departments and agencies that support Canadian cleantech solutions and ultimately streamlines the experience of navigating the complexity of government funding.”—Dominic Aquilina, Clean Growth Hub
What kind of capital do we need to transform our energy system? How do we communicate climate change effectively given the political rhetoric the public is exposed to? Is there such a thing as “good” growth? How can we transition our cities so that they accommodate the new mobility realities and take equity and inclusion into consideration?
These are some of the questions we explored during GLOBE Forum on a range of program themes spanning sustainability as strategy, energy transformation, circular economy, the climate crisis and mobilizing capital.
Read on for highlights from a few select sessions.
SUSTAINABILITY AS STRATEGY
The Business Challenge and Opportunity of Unchecked Consumption
- Across many different products that are part of our daily lives, there are opportunities to eliminate packaging, design for durability, and turn what was previously waste into new, useful and more affordable products.
- Companies need to work together within and across sectors to encourage consumers to re-imagine their habits and how they use products in their daily lives. These habits include transitioning to a waste-free grooming routine, to switching from unhealthy soda to refillable carbonated water, and designing clothing so it can be re-sold and re-sewn into new products.
“At LUSH we allow customers to try the naked product alongside the packaged product and let them decide for themselves. By taking the time to consult with our customers and listen, we can avoid selling them products they don’t need.”—Katrina Shum, LUSH Cosmetics
Leadership Armchair Dialogue: Lucas Joppa, Microsoft and Lightning Talk: Pete Muller, National Geographic
- Watch the full session livestream here.
Faceoff: The Energy Panacea?
- Watch the full session livestream here
“It’s part of human nature to want one, clear technological solution – a silver bullet. But I think in this day and age we know there isn’t a silver bullet. We need everyone, everywhere, doing everything they can, now.” —Catherine Abreu, Climate Action Network Canada
The Future of Mobility: Big Opportunities, Big Challenges
- Urban transportation mode decisions come down to reliability, convenience and money.
- Formula E is a great opportunity for original equipment manufacturers to develop and test cutting-edge electric vehicle technologies.
- With the many new forms of transportation on the market, coalitions and partnerships are key, including new approaches to public/private partnerships.
“Our mobility patterns are very sticky. We need to think about how we shift behaviour.”—Sandra Phillips, Movmi
The Rise of the Ecocity: Exploring the Role of Business in Transforming Cities
- Governments, training institutions, and businesses all have a role to play in promoting a greater understanding of the impacts of our activities in the places we live.
- Many small and rural communities want to take action on climate but need research support, innovations in communication technology, and mobile training modes.
- By making training accessible to professionals working in all types of communities, more people will have access to services like EV charger installation and energy retrofits.
“What we really need to implement the circular economy in cities is collaboration between the actors.”—Ernesto Hartikainen, Sitra Fund
Leadership Armchair Dialogues with Sarah Chandler, Apple, and Fisk Johnson, SC Johnson
- Ms. Chandler advocated for turning to data to find the answers. Apple did a robust analysis of product materials, looked at environmental, social and global supply impact, then put together a framework around key product materials to find ways to close the loops. It is important not to sacrifice product performance (e.g., durability) with recycled materials. A barrier to scaling the circular economy is an unequal playing field between newly mined materials and recycled ones.
- Dr. Johnson discussed the impact of plastics and marine debris on ocean health, and the importance of public-private partnerships to accelerate positive change. He touched on the power of everyday people to make informed choices, the importance of awareness around the urgency of the plastic waste issue, and the need to share scientific knowledge with political decision-makers. Dr. Johnson observed that we’ve seen a real wave of consumers wanting to buy products that help eliminate plastic waste in their households.
Communicating Climate: Why Facts are Not Enough, with Katharine Hayhoe
- When we talk about climate change we have to make sure we keep an eye out for the smokescreens, i.e., the things people say to derail your discussion. They could be disguised as scientific, religious, or economic in nature. Example: Someone says, “It’s freezing outside!” to argue against the overall trend of rising global temperatures.
- Climate change is a threat multiplier. We care about climate change because it exacerbates so many of the risks we face today.
Is Growth a Dirty Word? Defining Global Growth in the Roaring 20s
- For decades, GDP has been the go-to indicator for economic health and success, but it does not do a good job of measuring well-being or economic prosperity. New Zealand, Scotland and Iceland are doing interesting work on other types of goals.
- We should be asking “What do we want to grow, what do we want to shrink?”
- The circular economy can enable growth without negative impact.
- We need to think “seven generations” out in terms of sustainability planning, not just the next generation.
- We need indicators that move beyond GDP.
- We need to use policy/regulatory incentives (e.g., carbon tax) to drive more sustainable growth.
- It’s important to maintain significant natural assets and work within the boundaries of what’s sustainable.
“We need an economy that is more democratic and distributes the wealth and well-being benefits more broadly.”—Marc Lee, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Resilient Infrastructure in a Changing Climate: The $90 Trillion Global Imperative
Infrastructure is a key enabler of economic growth. However, the following barriers to investment in resilient infrastructure remain:
- The need to make climate risks visible and integrated into investment decisions
- The need to strengthen policy frameworks and the institutional capacity of governments
- The need to transform financial systems to mobilize public and private capital at scale
Nevertheless, momentum is building, as evidenced by:
- The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)
- The Global Commission on Adaptation World Bank infrastructure finance
- Municipalities increasingly applying a climate lens to their infrastructure investment decisions
- Key programs supported by different levels of government: the Green Municipal Fund, the Municipal Asset Management Program, and the Canada Infrastructure Bank
The Next Big Wave: How Ocean Project Financing is Scaling the Blue Economy
- The blue economy includes all of the environmental services that preserve and protect the value in our oceans, e.g., blue bonds, better tech for fishing, restoration of salt marshes, coastal resiliency projects.
- Sharing information with investors on the value of the blue economy will help combat the perception of risk associated with it. This perception is preventing the flow of investment in blue economy cleantech.
- In the Caribbean, the World Bank has created the world’s first parametric insurance system that is designed to deploy payments to clients as soon as rainfall exceeds a certain limit or severe weather hits. It has been hugely instrumental in supporting the sustainability of the fisheries sector, as it helps support fishermen and small businesses whose operations are impacted by severe weather.
“For the blue economy, it’s about accessing and communicating data and information that engages key stakeholders to ensure long-term economic benefit.”—Miguel Jorge, World Bank
As we navigate the future of the environment, energy and the economy, questions remain about the best path forward. We sat down with Jon Mitchell, Vice President, Sustainability at Suncor to get his and Suncor’s perspective.
Suncor is one of Canada’s largest energy companies, and you talk about being committed to developing long-term, sustainable solutions and being part of something that’s bigger than just one company or industry. What does this look like in action?
We recognize that addressing big challenges like climate change requires all of us to work together. That means recognizing that the best solutions come when everyone is at the table and is willing to bring their best ideas forward.
At Suncor, we’ve been focused on sustainability for over two decades. Although we’ve made some tangible advances in environmental performance, we know that there’s more work to be done, especially if the world is to successfully transition to a low-carbon future and still meet growing energy demand.
Transforming our energy system is a complex challenge, but we’re optimistic about the path forward. We are approaching business opportunities by thinking about providing the energy people need in a sustainable way that they want. This isn’t about achieving business success by simply managing the bottom line. It’s about creating business success by helping build a resilient society.
I’m excited about the progress we’re making. For example, we recently announced a new cogeneration facility that will help green Alberta’s electrical grid and avoid the equivalent emissions of 550,000 passenger vehicles per year. We’ve also announced the Forty Mile Wind Project, which will provide the equivalent of 100,000 homes’ electricity use per year. Add to that our completion of Canada’s electric highway, with EV charging stations at our Petro-Canada stations from coast to coast, and you’re beginning to see how we’re embedding sustainability as a value driver in our business decisions.
What would you say to those who say that the oil sands are part of the problem, not the solution?
We as an industry, and as society, need to find a way to take rapid action on climate change while supplying the reliable energy our world has come to expect. The oil sands provide energy continuity and we are working hard to reduce the GHG intensity of oil sands production. At the same time, we are developing low-carbon options such as biofuels and renewables.
Transforming our energy system while continuing to meet the world’s needs will require getting the best out of both traditional and new sources of energy. We must expand upon the expertise and experience that we have gained from traditional resources and apply that knowledge and skill to create the low- carbon future we all want.
Some people might be surprised to learn that the oil sands industry is one of the largest markets for clean technology in Canada. At Suncor, we have decades of expertise, skill and knowledge that is being applied to the emerging energy economy. We’ve been part of the biofuels industry since 2006. An exciting example of the future of the industry is our recent investment in Enerkem, which transforms municipal waste into renewable liquid fuels. It’s exciting to see how expertise we’ve gained in running existing oil sands facilities is being leveraged to drive improved performance in the biofuels industry and help build an emerging market.
What are your biggest challenges? Opportunities? How have things changed in the last five years?
It seems that the last five years have only gotten more complex and the need to take action has become more urgent. As a result, we need to move faster on solutions. One of the big opportunities is through technology. We’re investing in emerging and potentially transformative technologies, including new digital capabilities. We’re increasingly applying digital technologies to improve reliability and environmental performance of our operations. For example, our facilities use real-time data to manage reliability. This means better energy efficiency and fewer emissions. We’re also very excited about our new strategic partnership with Microsoft and where it will take us.
We think there’s good reason for optimism – businesses are mobilizing effort and collaborating like never before, and we’re seeing large investments being focused on innovation and technology. There’s an incredible opportunity for Canada and Canada’s energy industry to lead in the energy transition and the effort to solve the climate change challenge.
Can you talk about some successful examples of collaboration and action on climate in your sector?
We often say that there’s no monopoly on good ideas. For us at Suncor, it means listening and learning from a wide spectrum of individuals and groups. We believe collaboration is key if we’re going to address sustainability-related challenges and opportunities.
We work with many different organizations as part of the path to a better future through technology, including Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) and the Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN). We’ve also partnered with Evok Innovations, a clean tech fund which combines the pace and creativity of a Silicon Valley start-up with the experience and insight of industry experts to accelerate early-stage technologies.
For us, collaboration doesn’t stop with technology. We’ve also participated in ground-breaking social initiatives like the Energy Futures Lab (EFL), which brings together diverse partners to advance a fit-for-the-future energy system. We’re also listening to and learning from Indigenous communities. An example of the potential that we can realize is the historic $500 million equity partnership that we announced with the Fort MacKay and Mikisew Cree First Nations at our East Tank Farm. We’re hopeful that this is emblematic of how deeper relationships with Indigenous communities can lead to different partnerships in resource development.
What does “energy transformation” mean at Suncor?
To be a successful company in an increasingly complex world, investors, employees, Indigenous communities and partners, suppliers, governments and stakeholders need to see us embedding sustainability into our decision making. More than ever, they want tangible proof of our commitment to care for the earth, improve social systems, and generate economic value.
For us, energy transformation means leveraging technology and innovation. It will require deep listening and collaboration – sometimes with those that we don’t always agree with. And it will mean acknowledging that, while we don’t have all the answers, we’re committed to a better future.
Not only are we focused on our own efforts, we are embarking on a journey of integrating sustainability into our supply chain to serve as a driver of change and progress. Later this month, we are hosting a sustainability forum with our major suppliers. Our goals are to learn from each other and to further embed sustainability practice throughout the supply chain, with a focus on driving down emissions and building creating greater value for our Indigenous partners and suppliers through mutually beneficial relationships and collaboration.
What do you wish people asked you, but don’t?
We think that any good conversation about our energy system starts with being curious about what could be. Asking questions helps start meaningful conversations about the nature of our energy system today and what it will take to make changes going forward. Some examples of questions that would be great to have some dialogue around are:
- “How should we define Canadian leadership in the transition to a low-carbon future?”
- “How should all parts of the economy and regions of the country work together to achieve that vision of leadership?”
How can Canada develop its own unique, national narrative on climate action?
In Canada we have an opportunity to create the space for a different conversation around what leadership looks like for Canada’s transition to a low-carbon future. Canada has a strong, diversified and resource-rich economy; a world-leading financial sector; and excellent capacity for innovation. By harnessing these advantages, Canada can be among the leaders in the global transition to a low-emissions future as a trusted source of climate-smart solutions, expertise and investment.
The opportunity is there if we choose to take advantage of it. Canada can demonstrate leadership through strong domestic actions, global leadership when it comes to emissions performance across all sectors of our economy, and public policy that enables innovation and improved performance.
What does 2050 look like if we’ve got it right?
We’re seeing a lot of governments and businesses making announcements with a 2050 time frame. It’s encouraging to see the level of awareness and ambition increasing when it comes to climate change. In the end, actions will count.
2050 is not a date when utopia arrives, but rather a point we can target to make sure that we are driving meaningful results and that today’s ambitious pragmatism works. Looking back from 2050, success will mean everyone in the world will have access to the energy they need, without having to compromise on social or environmental wellness. That likely will mean increased electrification; opportunities to develop new technologies, products and value chain; and innovation to address the world’s biggest sustainability problems, through collaboration across sectors and circular systems.
The challenge before us – to have ready access to energy that doesn’t cause environmental damage – is a large challenge, but not a challenge that is beyond our collective abilities.
By Kate Chisholm, Q.C., Senior Vice President, Chief Legal and Sustainability Officer, Capital Power
The world as we know it is on the brink of transformation —the urgent need to impede climate change is challenging all of us to adapt our lifestyles, be more innovative, and collaborate thoughtfully to build a more future-focused, and ultimately sustainable, future. The energy industry is working at the forefront of this complex challenge. It is leading the charge to alter our energy system so that it delivers sustainable energy for generations to come.
An Industry in Flux
Climate change is perhaps the most critical challenge of our time. It’s been a key driver of change and transformation in the energy industry for more than a decade.
Holistic transformation of our energy systems requires an “all-of-the-above” solution from our industry—one that maximally expands our use of renewable energy, employs storage technologies to optimize those renewable sources and transitions away from coal by focusing on lower- and zero-carbon thermal back-up sources, by continually improving their efficiency and emissions performance and by investing in carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies.
This approach will position our global energy community to meet our mid-century decarbonization target while ensuring affordable and reliable power for all. It can also help address some of the opportunities and challenges we’ll face along the way to achieving a decarbonized world by 2050, including:
- Resource allocation: Every region is unique in its natural resource endowment and its resulting accessibility to different types of renewable and thermal energy. Some jurisdictions (like Alberta, where I’m from) aren’t blessed with abundant hydro and haven’t invested in nuclear, so must therefore turn to other energy sources to keep the lights on and homes warm in winter.
- Reliability: The intermittency of renewables like wind (which can generally be relied upon to generate power only 30 to 40% of the time) and solar (which only generates power during the day) requires them to have back-up at night and during all hours when the wind isn’t blowing.
- Flexibility: Because we only want to use this back up intermittently, we want it to be reliably available whenever we need it, but we don’t want it to cost very much. We also want it to be flexible enough to turn on instantaneously whenever a sudden need arises. Natural gas alone fulfills these needs right now.
- Storage: People are working very hard to improve the technology, however batteries are currently only capable of storing power for hours, not yet for days or weeks, as can sometimes be needed in the dead of winter. In areas that lack hydro, only natural gas can do this, too.
- Carbon economy: We are already capturing and storing carbon from large emitters, and we’re starting to convert captured carbon into valuable products that can be sold to offset the cost of capture. Really smart people are working very hard to prove this process at commercial scale, and to commercialize and proliferate the carbon products. Once a market for these products has fully developed, we’ll be able to use the resulting revenue to build plants that capture carbon right out of the air!
- Unpredictability: Even scientists and engineers don’t yet know which disruptive technology— long-term batteries or carbon conversion— will be readily available first but both technologies will ultimately serve important and complementary purposes in our fight against climate change.
These variables explain why the world needs an “all-of-the-above” solution to conquer climate change; we need to take a multi-pronged approach to energy transformation and implement all of the tools at our disposal to meet the global goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
2050: A Future Built Together
The climate crisis is a complex global problem, but we absolutely can solve it together. As we move toward broad electrification, we’ll need “all-hands-on-deck” to expand supply in a way that maintains reliability and affordability while also reducing emissions. For this to happen, we really need to stop as a zero-sum game. The current polarization between those who would rush the world off fossil fuels and those who seek to reduce emissions from the use of fossil fuels is a costly distraction. In order to create the future we want for our children and grandchildren as fast as possible, we need to use every tool, technology and innovation within our reach. As a global community of engaged industry players, governments and citizens, we need partnership, not hostility.
GLOBE 2020 will provide an important opportunity for sustainability players across sectors and jurisdictions to gather, engage and strategize on solutions to mitigate the climate crisis facing our world. I hope you’ll join me in the carbon conversion conversation taking place at the GLOBE 2020 panel “A Tale of Transformation: Opportunities and Challenges in the CCUS Ecosystem” in February. At Capital Power, we’re passionately committed to doing our part in this transformation to a low-carbon future.
Let’s talk. Let’s work together toward our common goal.