The Path to Net Zero: 10 Areas for Action
The path to net zero will require hard work, creativity, and a whole lot of collaboration. To help fuel and shape this collaboration, we have distilled the key takeaways from GLOBE Forum 2022 into the 10 action areas we need to prioritize in the next 10 years to achieve net zero by 2050.
Over the next few months, we will be developing an interactive 10×10 Matrix that highlights the actions that governments, businesses, and NGOs can take to achieve this ambitious but urgent target. We hope the 10×10 Matrix will not only inspire action, but also help you to better understand how your actions are connected to and enable others in your ecosystem.
To ensure that the 10×10 Matrix is representative of the issues facing diverse stakeholder groups, we have engaged the Leading Change Steering Committee and other partners. Virtual GLOBE Forum delegates will also have the opportunity to provide input into the full matrix in the coming weeks
The 10×10 will come to life at GLOBExCHANGE – our next Destination Net Zero event, taking place in Toronto on February 27 – March 1, 2023. GLOBExCHANGE will build on the conversations at GLOBE Forum and use the 10×10 Matrix as a basis for driving meaningful change in pursuit of our net-zero goals.
Mobilizing & Deploying Capital:
Develop policies that de-risk and incentivize investment, remove barriers to innovative financial instruments, and address funding gaps through partnerships and private/public investment
Accelerate commercialization of clean technologies, improve inter-jurisdictional knowledge sharing, support innovators and ecosystems, and accelerate public-private partnerships and community collaboration
Aligning Transparency, Standards & Reporting:
Create accountability and align climate-disclosure policies between jurisdictions and develop holistic sustainability/ESG frameworks to facilitate action and knowledge sharing
Identify national and regional risks, direct funding to resilient infrastructure retrofits and development, and improve land use planning
Creating a Circular Economy:
Design an Indigenous-centred circular economy roadmap; establish national and provincial goals, policies, and programs; and incorporate circular economy principles into data and financial modelling
Implementing Nature-based Solutions:
Prioritize nature-based solutions in formulating government initiatives and embed the value of natural solutions into infrastructure and business planning processes
Centering Indigenous Leadership, Engagement & Ways of Knowing:
Cultivate long-term relationships with Indigenous leadership and communities, enhance authentic engagement, collaboration and community capacity building initiatives, and support Indigenous knowledge-based adaptation
Leveraging Infrastructure & the Built Environment:
Focus on infrastructure investments and development that address community challenges, encourage compatibility through international collaboration, and identify built environment innovations that deliver numerous sustainability opportunities
Shifting to Low-Carbon Transportation:
Leverage policy instruments to incentivize the shift to low-carbon alternatives, focus on increasing access to connect under-resourced communities, and create infrastructure that supports the transition to EVs
Accelerating the Clean Energy Transition:
Implement strategic policy supports that actively close the gap between federal policy and provincial enforcement, align industry focus around the adoption of net-zero technologies, and encourage coalition-building across sectors
Are you thinking about offering an in-person, hybrid or virtual event, workshop or presentation? We can help!
For more information about how we can partner with you to deliver your next sustainability event, reach out to our Senior Manager, Event Partnerships, Caroline Vanasse, directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GLOBE Series updates straight to your inbox.
Day One Highlights from GLOBE Forum 2022, with Elizabeth Shirt
From the Prime Minister’s major net-zero announcement, to seeing all our favourite people back together for the first time in two years, the first day of GLOBE Forum 2022 was one for the books! Watch to hear from our very own Elizabeth Shirt, GLOBE Series’ Managing Director, and catch up on all the Day One highlights.
GLOBE Series updates straight to your inbox.
On the Road to a Net Zero Economy, We Can’t Forget About People
Guest content by Christine Bergeron, President and CEO of Vancity.
As British Columbians begin to rebuild from the wreckage of the latest extreme weather event, it’s clear that the climate emergency is here. To prevent further warming that will result in even more catastrophic consequences for people and the planet, we need to focus our efforts and ingenuity on the transition to a net-zero economy. This transition was the focus of the most recent global climate summit, COP26, and will continue to be front and center in the decades leading up to 2050. There are tremendous economic upsides to getting it right: a trillion-dollar economic opportunity, new jobs, and a boon for innovative solutions and products.
It’s clear that the climate crisis, and the actions we take to address it, affect every one of us. But not everyone is affected equally. As we build our net-zero future, it is critical to consider what human shape this economic transition will take. We’ve seen this movie before. Following the 2008 recession, the economy rebounded quite strongly. People? Not so much. Many were left jobless or in worse jobs than before the recession. Wages eroded and debt levels skyrocketed while housing became increasingly unaffordable for many.
We can’t allow this to happen again, especially since the reverberations of this transition are going to last longer than any recession. We won’t be successful if people are alienated from the climate fight because they pay a hefty price for the transition – for example, those who are already economically disadvantaged, or people and communities whose livelihood depends on emissions-heavy industries that we must now turn away from.
Canada, in particular, must be mindful of addressing the human costs of a net-zero transition. A recent study found that sectors vulnerable to the impact of this transition account for 70% of Canada’s exports, and more than $300bn in export revenues and investments. In human terms, that translates to 800,000 Canadian jobs located in every province and territory.
Those are just the employment impacts. Not everyone has the same ability to withstand the impacts and adapt to the new net-zero “normal.” We can’t successfully transition to a net-zero economy if only those who can afford to adapt make it through the transition intact.
A People-First Approach to Net Zero
We have to approach the net-zero transition through a people-first lens. What does this mean? It means identifying how the climate emergency, and our responses to it, are impacting people – for example, workers and communities relying on high-emissions sectors. It means understanding how existing systemic barriers and inequities make those impacts worse for some people, or limit their ability to mitigate and adapt – for example, lower-income people living in higher-risk neighborhoods because those same climate risks are making homes there more affordable. And it means having a plan of action for governments, businesses, unions, and communities to work together to address this head-on.
In Canada, a people-first approach is especially critical in the energy sector, traditionally a key driver of Canada’s economy. It’s clear we must transition most of our energy production to clean-energy sources. Prime Minister Trudeau announced at COP26 that “Canada has set a goal of selling only zero-emission cars and establishing a net-zero emissions electricity grid by 2035.” Arguably this is not soon enough based on global warming projections, and yet is also very aggressive based on how long it has taken to make major industry shifts in the past.
Converting Energy Risks to Opportunities in Canada
Renewables currently provide only about 16% of Canada’s total supply of energy for electricity, heating and transportation. While that’s a higher proportion than what we see globally (13.4%) or in OECD countries (10.5%), it demonstrates just how much change needs to occur in order to meet our international commitments and to truly shift to a net-zero economy.
There’s a similar mix of room for change and potential for growth in clean-energy exports. The global renewable energy market had total revenues of $692.8bn (USD) in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9% between 2016 and 2020. Canada’s clean-energy exports totaled only $21bn in 2019. This represents an annual growth rate of 9.7% since 2014, three times faster than all Canadian product exports over the same period. But clean-energy exports still totaled only 5.5% of Canada’s product exports in 2019.
There is a clear opportunity for the Canadian economy as it begins to wean itself off oil and gas. Industry advocates expect that by 2030, Canada’s clean-energy sector will grow its GDP by 58% and its workforce by nearly 50%, adding more than 200,000 jobs. This growth will help offset the effects of oil-and-gas contraction at the macro level.
The question is, can Canada translate this growth into real opportunities for those people and communities who are no longer able to rely on oil and gas for their livelihoods, such as oil-and-gas workers, equipment suppliers and other local service providers? How do we reskill these individuals to capitalize on the new job opportunities? And how do we ensure that groups that were historically left out of the oil-and-gas boom, such as First Nations members and women, are included in the new energy growth opportunity?
There needs to be a deliberate effort on the part of governments, the private sector, workers and communities to make this transition fair – and successful. Re-skilling initiatives and building worker awareness of their transferable skills have been developed by both unions and non-union organizations, such as Iron & Earth. Scaling up and fully resourcing such initiatives will require collaboration between governments and employers.
Ensuring that Canada’s clean-energy future proceeds through true partnership with Indigenous peoples is also critical to advancing both the just transition and Reconciliation. The clean-energy sector is increasingly recognizing this. As of Nov 11, 2021, Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) – a pan-Canadian social enterprise working to advance Indigenous inclusion in Canada’s energy futures economy – has mapped 197 clean-energy projects across Canada that have significant Indigenous involvement. ICE notes that these projects are generating jobs and training opportunities for Indigenous people, and providing a more consistent flow of revenue to meet community needs.
The Role of Financial Institutions in the Net-Zero Transition
It is imperative that financial institutions change what they fund. This means transitioning from emissions-heavy industries to cleaner jobs and industries, as well as factoring climate risks and social benefits into the assessment of loan requests and investment decisions. Financial institutions can also do more to support businesses in identifying and disclosing climate-related risks.
The climate crisis also requires that financial institutions put people first. This means helping people access and manage their finances when forced from their communities by severe climate events, such as the recent flooding in Merritt and Princeton or the forest fire at Lytton. Financial institutions can also use the tools at their disposal to encourage just-transition initiatives and lead systemic change.
For example, we introduced Canada’s first Responsible Investment (RI) mutual fund 35 years ago, and we became the first financial institution in North America to be carbon neutral in our operations nearly 15 years ago. Today, RI is an entrenched component of the investment world, and significant reductions in operational emissions are part of most large Canadian banks’ climate-action plans. We continue to finance changemakers in areas such as affordable housing, green technology, equity, and financial inclusion.
These examples highlight how the private sector can show leadership in support of a just transition. But more support is required. Systemic challenges need system-wide solutions, and such solutions require governments to also step up and lead, putting people first. That is the next key step for the just transition.
GLOBE Series updates straight to your inbox.
Top 3 Clean Energy Trends to Watch Out for in 2019
Ethan Zindler is Head of Americas at Bloomberg NEF (BNEF), the definitive source of insight, data and news on the transformation of the energy economy. Ethan manages the company’s analyst and commercial teams in New York, Washington, San Francisco, and Sao Paulo.
Ahead of his speaker appearance at GLOBE Capital 2019, Ethan shares his insights on the future of clean energy, including the top 3 trends to watch out for in 2019.
The shift to low-carbon energy sources is happening, regardless of policy
At BNEF, our view is that a fundamental shift towards lower-carbon technologies will continue. This shift will take place regardless of how much additional policy support is provided. Having said that, a concerted effort to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement in the form of specific national, state or even municipal-level policies would certainly speed things up.
By 2050, we estimate over 11 trillion dollars will be invested in energy power generation and power storage assets, and around 85 percent of that investment will go to zero-carbon generation. This represents a very sizable potential opportunity. The estimate is based on our long-term New Energy Outlook, which is a projection established on the trajectories we’ve seen in the learning curves of relevant technologies, as well as the progress we’ve seen over the last 10 to 15 years. It is not founded on assumptions about relevant new policies.
The clean energy landscape has evolved
This is an interesting time for the clean energy sector. BNEF has been around for 15 years, and for the first 10 years, the best way to conduct market analysis was to simply look at which countries introduced generous subsidies. Where subsidies were created, large volumes of capital would flow very soon after. As soon as the subsidy spigot was turned off, private capital would stop flowing, and markets would dry up very quickly. During this time, you could argue we were as much policy analysts as market analysts.
We’re now in a much more interesting period in which we see legitimate cost competition between zero-carbon sources of energy and incumbent fossil generation, and that’s exciting. It’s game on in terms of competition between technologies, and that competition can take place on an entirely unsubsidized basis.
The question is: When will we reach the point where this is no longer a competition, and clean energy technologies are the clear-cut winners and the cheapest in the market? We predict it will start to take place sometime between the middle and the end of the next decade.
Top 3 clean energy trends to watch out for in 2019
1. Batteries will continue to play a key role
Not everyone thinks batteries are exciting, but I think they are. Batteries are an important instrument for enabling true clean power generation. Put simply, they allow us to use wind power when the wind is not blowing and solar power when the sun isn’t shining. We’re seeing incredible progress in terms of battery prices coming down, and around the world we’re starting to see projects that combine renewables and batteries to undercut fossil generation.
2. Economies will grow without growing the demand for electricity
We are seeing a general trend whereby the world’s wealthiest economies can grow their economies without growing the demand for electricity, and in some cases without growing their demand for energy overall. This is important because it means there is the potential to keep carbon emissions in check, at least in the power sector.
3. Basic energy needs will be met with existing technology
Around 1.5 billion people around the world have no meaningful access to energy. What’s exciting is that basic energy needs, such as running a lantern or a fan, can be served with existing technologies. The challenge we face is no longer cost, but the logistics of implementing these technologies.
As this group of people moves beyond basic energy access, the potential is there to do it cleanly, as solar, wind, microgrids, and other technologies render the concept of a hub-and-spoke grid outdated. The potential for addressing energy access issues – and addressing it without contributing to climate change – is very exciting.
The Capital conversation
At GLOBE Capital 2019, I’m curious to learn more from an investor perspective. What new risks are investors willing to take? What new markets are they looking at? What new technologies might they be willing to back? And what new types of financing structures are they willing to participate in? New risk and innovation around investment – that’s what I’m keen to explore.
Learn more about GLOBE Capital 2019: www.globeseries.com/capital
Renewable Energy for All – An Interview with Mafalda Duarte
By investing in the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), advanced economies have helped the developing world more fully participate in the global energy transition. More than 300 projects later, Mafalda Duarte, who heads up the funds, is now looking to keep the magic going.
A decade ago, 14 nations—led by the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, and Canada — came together and opened their cheque books to create the Climate Investment Funds. The now-USD$8.3 billion fund is helping 72 emerging and developing economies worldwide prepare for and — bounce back from — the impacts of climate change. Under Mafalda Duarte’s leadership, CIF has since distributed the funds as direct grants, looking into new mechanisms that will mobilize climate finance from capital markets.
You oversee funds that have helped millions of people prepare for today’s challenges those that lie ahead. What’s that like?
I’ve been working with CIF for eight years now, and have been leading the funds for the last four. It’s been an honor to work with a number of climate champions out there in the developing world, as well as with large financial institutions who have been willing to make different investment choices than they would have in the past. The work we do to support and empower champions working in renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, water management, and agriculture is humbling, and a privilege.
How exactly do you help those champions?
We support the markets and business models that will help clear the way for these countries to achieve a low-carbon future. Part of this process is providing concessional finance in the millions, sometimes hundreds of millions, of dollars. Another part is looking at institutional and regulatory frameworks they operate within, and figuring out what changes are needed — and what assistance and technical capacity might benefit them. We help bring all the key stakeholders together. From a technical and political economy standpoint, regulatory reform changes are far from straightforward. We also make a significant difference in that we de-risk and lower the cost of capital. We do this for well-known technologies, such as wind, that are proven but have not seen enough investment in a given country; and for renewable energy technologies that have less of a track record, such as concentrated solar power.
Where have you made the biggest mark?
We’ve tried to help first movers, with Mexico being one successful example. In 2008, when we started, there was very little renewable energy investment, and that was of course the year of the global financial crash. We were in there, helping with the first deals that led to growth in the wind sector. In other countries, like Kazakhstan, we have helped change their renewable energy laws. We had a stake in their first solar and wind projects to demonstrate their investment viability, and we also learned a lot about how to enhance their regulatory framework to better support renewable energy sources.
CIF has completed more than 300 projects. Which one or two stand out for you?
One of the projects we’re most proud of is our intervention in Morocco, which resulted in the 500 MW Noor Concentrated Solar Power complex—that country’s first utility-scale solar energy facility. To make that happen, we pioneered a different financial structure. By being there with other development finance institutions, we gave confidence to a number of investors. Our contribution helped reduce the project costs by 25 percent. Concentrated solar power is still a costly, early-stage technology, but it has a lot of potential. Our intervention significantly reduced the level of public subsidy that was needed to get it done.
What mistakes have you learned from?
Given how carefully we assess each prospective investment, the lessons we learn are more about how we adapt our practices to respond to a given nation’s specific needs. For example, we have a big program in Nigeria. We realized early on that we wanted to facilitate loans to help consumers develop small-scale renewables. To do that, we needed to rethink the way we approached the local commercial institutions in that country. This included considering the types of the conditions that would encourage those institutions to develop credit lines for these businesses. The lessons we are learning are more around our practices, and how we approach project design.
Your team has developed some serious expertise on renewables in the developing world. How do you share those findings?
From the beginning, we knew we would be a true learning laboratory. We wanted to gather insights and share them widely within developing countries, but also internationally. Both our geothermal and concentrated solar power experiences provide lessons that developed countries can learn from. The same is the case with credit lines that we have helped structure in Turkey and Tajikistan. We link the countries together with international experts around specific themes, such as microgrids and off-grid solutions, or the role of women in the energy transition. We’ve had Cambodia and Zambia exchange practices on water management, and Brazil and Mozambique in forest management—they have similar challenges and also of course both speak Portuguese! We bring them together, we ask them what they want to learn, what they need, and we structure the learning around that. It’s fundamental to our mandate.
You are based in Washington, DC, the seat of a government that is, at least federally, not committed to climate action, energy efficiency and renewables. What do you tell the nations you work with about the missing leadership at home?
No matter who we are speaking with, we have to make sure that our message is being heard and absorbed. The way you message, and what you say, your narrative, and the people to whom you choose to deliver the message is very important. People may seem to be at opposite positions, very far apart, but in the end they aspire to meet similar objectives. Nobody disputes the idea that more jobs are a good thing. Nobody disputes that industry-driving climate action is good. Nobody disputed the health benefits of clean energy—a lot of cities are facing serious air pollution problems. Nobody disputes that climate variability is there. We have to find ways of bringing people into the conversation.
This is a special year for the CIF in that it marks a decade since the fund was first established. What are you doing to recapitalize?
Our anniversary this year gives us an opportunity to really demonstrate the value we’ve added. When you work at the scale that we do, it can take years before you start to see impacts and results; now we have this really large portfolio of more than 300 projects in developing countries. We are gathering all this evidence and will be able to demonstrate the value and the importance of flexible toolkits and mechanisms. Watch this space.
Some say climate action needs less talk and, as the name implies, more action. But since our founding ten years ago, action is all we’ve ever done. Now is finally the time to start talking about the gains we’ve made and the progress still to come.
There will be representatives from more than 55 nations on hand at GLOBE Forum 2018. What is the one thing you would like them to remember, to keep in mind, about the Climate Investment Funds?
CIF began life at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008, when public funding was in some ways scarcer than it is today. Key to our success then, as now, was conveying the message that climate action is not only a worthy investment, but also a crisis that threatens nearly every aspect of our lives. It pollutes the air we breathe, fuels the natural disasters that destroy lives and livelihoods, hastens the spread of disease, and disrupts ecosystems as well as natural resources. Think of water scarcity. The sooner we think of climate change as an all-encompassing challenge – and one that jeopardizes our way of life – the sooner, I hope, we will marshal the necessary resources to address it.
CIF is just one part of the solution. This is a responsibility we all share, whether you’re an elected official, an activist, or an everyday consumer. Because we all have a stake in a climate-smarter future.
Image: Morrocco’s Concentrated Solar Power Plant Noor-Ouarzazate, www.climateinvestmentfunds.org
GLOBE Capital returns to Toronto on February 27-28, 2019.
Join leaders in finance, infrastructure and cleantech to discuss how to capitalize on opportunities in the clean economy.
The Resource Revolution: Is it Here? – An Interview with Scott Jacobs
Scott spent a decade working in Silicon Valley as a tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist. A believer in the power of innovation to solve big problems, Scott decided to apply his expertise to energy and resource systems in 2004. After co-founding McKinsey’s Clean Energy Practice advising hundreds of leading companies, many governments, and a number of the largest institutional investors in the world, in 2014 Scott helped start Generate Capital, a San Francisco-based infrastructure investment and operating platform.
What sets Generate Capital apart from other financing companies?
We’re a balance sheet business, not a fund management platform, which is a novel alignment model with investors. It also provides substantial flexibility in the way the company can support its investments and its partners. We recently raised USD$200m worth of institutional equity led by our new partner, Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, to add to prior equity and debt capital raised since the company’s founding.
Generate Capital has found its niche as the capital partner for the ‘Resource Revolution,’ a phrase we coined at McKinsey. The Resource Revolution is all about doing more with less, particularly with respect to natural resources. This kind of productivity equation has propelled economic growth for centuries. We’ve seen it in the Agriculture Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, more recently in the Digital Revolution – all of which were more focused on labor productivity – and now we’re seeing it in a fourth revolution…the Resource Revolution.
For us, that translates into investing in small-scale energy, water, waste and agriculture infrastructure projects that, despite being the most economically efficient, tend to be ignored by most traditional sources of capital due to their size, maturity, and complexity.
What are the signs that the Resource Revolution is happening?
In the energy space, we’re seeing signs that it’s happening in something as simple as the increased fuel economy of internal combustion engines. But there are more dramatic improvements. A great example is building efficiency improvements that we’re seeing across the U.S., and particularly in places like Japan where energy has been a scarce resource for a lot longer.
We’re also seeing the Resource Revolution in the growth of the renewable energy sector. More than 50% of growth in energy production capacity added to the grid in the last several years has been renewable energy. And in food and agricultural systems, we’ve seen great productivity growth associated with new fertilizers and agricultural inputs, new ways of irrigating crops, and new crop rotations…all of which are designed to increase the yield from the land.
What are the biggest opportunities in the clean energy economy for investors?
There’s going to be a tremendous amount of capital deployed in renewable energy, especially in distributed energy opportunities around solar and energy storage.
Transportation, specifically electric mobility, is also attracting a lot of attention, and it’s not just Tesla offering electric vehicles to consumers anymore. Municipal bus fleets are converting to electric transportation, and many major global economies are outlawing petroleum-based vehicles.
This is happening very quickly in places like the UK, France and China. China, as the biggest driver of demand for the automotive sector, is really signalling to the rest of us how the future infrastructure of the world will be built.
When looking at tomorrow’s clean energy investment opportunities, check out what China is doing. Their market signals not only attract attention, but significant capital.
What are the biggest barriers to a full transition to the clean energy economy?
If you think the clean energy economy is going to happen tomorrow, you’re going to be disappointed. There are really two major barriers:
- How long it takes to refresh the infrastructure
- Incumbent inertia within the existing system
The world’s energy and resource infrastructure has taken the past 100 years to build, and that is very hard to change. In places like the U.S. and Europe, low population growth and low economic growth translate to slower building of new infrastructure, though there is an aging infrastructure that needs replacing but will take some time.
But in China and other emerging countries, where both economic growth and population growth are much higher, and pollution becoming a much bigger, more noticeable problem, there is a more urgent need to build more efficient infrastructure.
There is also a lot of inertia within existing systems and, as always, existing players who are threatened by the transition to a clean energy economy are putting a lot of money into policy advocacy and other barriers that protect their position as the incumbent.
How can players in the clean energy economy harness the huge amounts of capital available?
There is a lot of discussion about the “clean trillion” in the sustainability world…the notion that we need a trillion dollars a year to go into the clean economy to solve our sustainability challenges. I take a slightly different angle on this question. I believe the trillion dollars and then some is already out there, ready to be deployed into good projects with good returns. The challenge is that the people asking for the money lack the strategy, structure and team that would build trust with the asset holders and thus cannot mobilize the capital.
GLOBE Capital returns to Toronto on February 27-28, 2019.
Join leaders in finance, infrastructure and cleantech to discuss how to capitalize on opportunities in the clean economy.
West Coast Leadership for a Sustainable Future
In what turned out to be one of the most popular sessions at GLOBE Forum 2018, political leaders from BC, Washington, Oregon and California came together to discuss The Pacific Coast Collaborative – an initiative focused on building a sustainable future that works for the people of the West Coast. The panel discussed approaches to tech, clean energy, job creation and trade among four jurisdictions that are on the cutting edge of sustainability.
- The Honourable George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Government of BC
- Shauna Sylvester, Director of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue
- Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington
- The Honourable John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia
- Matt Rodriquez, California Secretary for Environmental Protection
- Janine Benner, Director, Oregon Department of Energy