Transition is a sticky word for a lot of people. Add “net-zero” or “pipeline” to the mix and you might even spark a wave of public passion. But emotions are always anchored in something and those relating to Alberta’s energy transition carry no exception. Sure, through the years we’ve talked about net-zero by 2050 but these conversations have often carried an element of speculation. A nice theory, one might say, but how will we get there? While the answer to this question is neither simple nor obvious, the events of last week offer a little insight into the nature of energy transition.
This post is part 2 of 3 exploring sustainable finance, bringing together the perspectives of three of our Core Working Group members: Patrycja Drainville (Associate Director, Sustainable Finance, Scotiabank), Chad Park (Vice President, Sustainability & Citizenship, The Cooperators), and Jamie Bonham (Director of Corporate Engagement, NEI Investments)
If there was ever any doubt that net-zero finance was the way of the future, former Bank of Canada and Bank of England governor Mark Carney cleared it up in a March 29th tweet. “Huge announcement today that the core of the global asset management industry, managing over $32 trillion in assets, is committing to addressing climate change [and] delivering the goals of the Paris Agreement.” When you start talking about that many trillions of dollars, even the most ardent skeptic is forced to sit up and start listening.
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.
Around the world, countries, corporations, and people are picking up the call for a net-zero future. This global rallying cry is highlighting that we need to do more to reach a lower emissions future and we need to do it at an exponential pace. We cannot close the gap between our reality today, and our aspirations for what is possible, without developing and deploying technologies that both manage our greenhouse gas emissions and add value to our economy.