A just transition to net-zero won’t be easy and anyone who claims it will be is either kidding themselves or ignoring the complexities of this challenge. The truth is, net-zero by 2050 is a tall order.
Alberta’s hydrocarbon sector faced an uncertain future in a world moving towards lower-carbon energy before the pandemic, with existing trends accelerating since March 2020. This uncertainty towards the future of the sector offers both risks and opportunities. The province’s rich natural resource wealth and highly skilled workforce have potential to capture a growing share of the clean technology market, and play a pivotal role in reaching climate targets.
Planning for the future is complicated. We don’t know for sure what the future will look like. That means — and forgive me for being a little nerdy here — defining “future fitness” is a probabilistic question: we have to assess “fitness” across a range of possible futures. At the same time, the future also isn’t entirely out of our control. Policy choices we make now can influence which futures are more (or less) likely to come to pass.
Sitting in his kitchen with a ballpoint pen and a small coiled notebook, Walter considers his expenses. With December looming around the corner, he laments the fact that his furnace, after all these years, has chosen to retire on the heels of winter. With his natural gas furnace no longer working, Walter has purchased two electric heaters to warm his home. These new additions leave him feeling unsure of how best to tackle his energy bills and this nervousness inspires him to investigate his home’s various electrical needs. In his son’s room, shelves decked with plastic dinosaurs and superhero posters adorn the walls. A small boy by the name of Brooks sits in the corner with a laptop propped over his knees. Walter approaches and unplugs the computer cord, telling the boy to finish his homework by hand. The boy’s teacher, he assures, won’t mind. Little does Walter know that the cost of powering his son’s laptop is of little significance, especially when compared to the oversized electric heaters he’s had running since the furnace died. Still, these days he hopes to divert whatever savings he can.
Chad Park, Energy Futures Lab Director offers his top six suggestions for Alberta’s Climate Technology Task Force, drawing on the experience and insights of the Energy Futures Lab so far.
We are all familiar with the idea of starting with the end in mind. This is the essence of “backcasting”, a methodology for planning in complexity. Sustainability expert, Pong Leung introduces the backcasting framework and its application to the sustainability challenge.
The term “Brain Trust” was coined in the 1930s by a New York Times reporter to describe a group of advisors who provided advice to Franklin D. Roosevelt during his presidential campaign.
Accelerating the transition to a sustainable energy system is a pretty big goal. Let’s face it, if we could meet this challenge with a step-by-step approach, we would have solved it by now.
To better understand the potential for cleantech in Canada, Rudayna Bahubeshi sat down with Fellows Kipp Horton, President and CEO of WindRiver Power and Meera Nathwani-Crowe, Shell’s Manager of Heavy Oil.