Calgary's path to net-zero

February 14, 2022
New Economy Energy & Environment
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The first New Economy LIVE of 2022 explored Calgary’s unique value proposition as a net-zero leader with the talent, entrepreneurial spirit, and industry collaboration required to make an impact in the global energy transition. The event series engages Calgarians in the economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy, and the vision for the city to be a place where bright minds and big ideas come together to solve global challenges.

“If you have a great idea no matter where you are from in the world, Calgary is the place where you can build it and be successful,” said, Chris Brown, Business Development Manager Energy and Environment, Calgary Economic Development.

Ahead of the industry expert panel discussion, Brown presented insights from the Alberta Energy Transition Study, which concluded the pursuit of net-zero in the province could create 170,000 jobs in the cleantech sector and contribute $61 billion to GDP by 2050. To meet the opportunity, Alberta will need to invest more than $2.1 billion a year in cleantech by 2030, increasing to $5.5 billion by 2040.

Panelists agreed net-zero is non-negotiable for the future, but there will be highs and lows on the path forward.

“It’s not as much a question of feasibility on a technical level as it is a necessity for how we see our future,” said Meredith Adler, Executive Director, Student Energy. “Over 80 per cent of young people are calling for net-zero to happen in 2050 or sooner.”

Collaboration between industry, government and the community are key, with clear policy and significant investment needed to reach net-zero ambitions.

“The world is indeed capable of coordinated action and rapid technological advancement,” said Dr. Mark Summers, Chief Strategy Officer, Emissions Reduction Alberta. “We need a broad sweep of transformative technologies, complete solutions and to attack the problem from different angles to reach net-zero, including technology, financing, policy, talent, top-down approaches, bottom-up grassroots movements and public confidence.”

There isn’t one silver bullet to get to net-zero, but a crucial element discussed was support for cleantech innovation and startups to develop and scale commercially viable solutions.

“We’ve got a lot of smart people here and we’re driven, but we have to find a way to get capital to these earlier stage entrepreneurs.” said Jackie Forrest, Executive Director, ARC Energy Research Institute. “Foundations are strong and we’re going to see energy transition grow, but there’s going to be ups and downs.”

Calgary is home to head offices of major companies throughout the energy-value chain who are investing in large-scale cleantech projects.

“Cenovus was one of the first companies globally to set a net-zero ambition,” said Anamika Mukherjee, Director of Innovation Gateway, Cenovus. “It’s a full value-chain consideration.”

Mukherjee noted important considerations in the development of decarbonization solutions, including understanding the magnitude of the problem, avoiding the creation of new waste streams and recognizing the collective responsibility of climate action.

“What are you and I as consumers doing to reduce our footprint?”

In terms of building momentum and growing the talent pipeline for the net-zero future, “a lot of it does start with young people,” added Adler.

“Socializing new ideas early, making sure you have the right skill-building programs in the city and that you’re nurturing those people over time.”

Missed the event? Visit Calgary Economic Development’s YouTube channel for the full discussion. For more information on Calgary’s energy and environment industry, visit our sector profile.

Alberta Energy Transition Study

Alberta Energy Transition Fact Sheet

Calgary: Canada's Cleantech Innovation Hub Fact Sheet

The complimentary New Economy LIVE events explore the key focus areas of the economic strategy: Talent, Place, Business Environment and Innovation and their importance to a vibrant economy.

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