Edward Greenspon: The Worst Times Give Trust a Chance
Policy Speaking blogMonday March 30, 2020
Toronto, December 16, 2019 – The Energy Future Forum (EFF), a new pan-Canadian initiative to develop policy answers that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen the economy, was officially launched today at a meeting in Toronto. The forum includes senior representatives of Canada’s business, government, academic, environmental and Indigenous communities, comprising participants from five regions.
The foundational partners – Royal Bank of Canada, Suncor Energy, Hydro-Québec and the Ivey Foundation – are determined to see this collaborative effort map out an ambitious set of policy solutions that are environmentally sound, economically beneficial and publicly acceptable.
“The Energy Future Forum brings together a diverse group of thinkers, doers and policymakers in an unprecedented effort to find common cause in addressing Canada’s climate and energy challenges,” said Edward Greenspon, President and CEO of the Public Policy Forum, which is leading the process.
“The recent federal election confirmed Canadians are increasingly concerned about climate change while accepting an energy transition will unfold over time,” Greenspon said. “We are incredibly optimistic that the pieces are falling into place to address these issues decisively, efficiently and equitably and we are heartened by early indicators of progress, such as Canada and Alberta’s agreement on large carbon emitters.”
EFF’s inaugural gathering is being hosted by RBC. It includes more than 30 participants from the federal and Alberta governments, energy companies, environmental groups, the finance industry, Indigenous groups, universities and research specialists. EFF is designed as a multi-year, multi-sector initiative to facilitate the innovative thinking needed to bridge the long-standing energy-environment divide and move Canada into a leadership position internationally.
“As I recently reiterated in my annual report letter, climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our age. It’s a primary concern of our employees, clients, many shareholders and the public. This includes the next generation who are, in many regards, leading the conversation,” said Dave McKay, President and CEO of RBC. “All stakeholders must embrace the challenge and show Canadians that innovation can achieve measurable progress on climate change and help create a clean, prosperous economy.”
“Canada must be a leader in both energy and the environment. The Energy Future Forum is designed to try to get past the polarized voices and find real solutions”, said Mark Little, President and CEO of Suncor Energy.
“Climate change is scientifically proven, and we have a responsibility to act. The energy sector must be a part of the solution in the fight to reduce GHG emissions,” said Hydro-Québec President and CEO Eric Martel. “As a producer of clean electricity, Hydro-Québec intends to contribute positively to this discussion, which brings together a coalition of key players in Canada.”
“It seems after 25 years of definitive science and equivocal policy responses, the public has awoken to the reality of climate change,” said Bruce Lourie, President of the Ivey Foundation. “The conversation has become real and that means tough work for those looking to see meaningful action; and that is my expectation of this effort.”
The Energy Future Forum’s participants must reconcile two realities, Greenspon said: that the climate situation is growing more urgent and that history shows that energy transitions, such as steam to electricity, take time to develop. Electric vehicles accounted for just 2.2% of Canadian car sales last year, he noted, so fossil fuels will remain part of our lives for some time yet, making it imperative that cleaner oil and gas along with greater electrification be part of the solution.
Today’s inaugural meeting of the Energy Future Forum is focused on a discussion of possible early policy initiatives as well as a longer-term process to understand the trade-offs associated with a range of potential initiatives. These insights will inform EFF’s subsequent discussions about policy choices as it seeks to develop ideas and approaches that can make a difference and gain broad support.
This process will draw on the expertise of EFF participants and the input of outside specialists and policy decision-makers at all levels of government, complementing research and consultations already carried out by groups such as the Economic Strategy Tables, the Joint Oil and Gas Working Group, and Generation Energy. It hopes to steer the national conversation toward a common understanding between policymakers and stakeholders on policy opportunities worth pursuing and provide concrete, arms-length recommendations.
The EFF will meet at least three times a year over the next three years in locations across the country. For more information visit the Energy Future Forum’s page.
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|Jennifer Field, Vice President