Canadian Manufacturing

Field Notes: GLOBE Forum 2022 panel investigates getting real on net-zero

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an accelerated plan to reach net-zero by introducing a 2030 Emissions Reductions Plan to reduce emissions by 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

March 30, 2022   by Sadi Muktadir

From left to right: Moderator Bridgitte Anderson, CEO of Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Mark Little, CEO of Suncor Energy and Patricia Fletcher, CEO of Responsible Investment Association

On Day 1 of the 2022 GLOBE Forum, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opened up the three-day conference on Mar. 29 by announcing a commitment of $8.9B to promote cleantech initiatives in a bid to reach net-zero by 2050.

The announcement came as the three-day summit kicked off, diving into a variety of issues captivating Canadian industries from manufacturing, oil and gas, food, beverage and agriculture.

The nation is in the midst of a cleantech transformation, and one panel, asked ‘How realistic is a net-zero transformation?’ and ‘What are some of the tough pills the industry needs to swallow from an energy and technology perspective to make this happen?’

The panel in question included Mark Little, CEO of Suncor Energy, Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech, Patricia Fletcher, CEO of the Responsible Investment Association and moderated by Bridgitte Anderson, President & CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.

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Bridgitte Anderson started off by querying Mark Little on Suncor’s developments to become more sustainable.

“Two of the greatest challenges we’re trying to address are ‘how do you create stable, reliable energy that’s renewable?’ and ‘How do you create this energy in a way that reduces emissions?’” Mark said in his opening remarks.

Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech, an energy company trying to make renewable jet fuel a reality for planes, also joined the panel to speak about net-zero challenges for the advanced manufacturing and technology industry.

“Currently, we don’t have all the technology to complete the cleantech transition right now,” she said. “It’s a real challenge, we’re asking ‘How do you make materials and resources we use in our daily lives in a more sustainable way?’”

To this end, Patricia Fletcher, CEO of Responsible Investment Association was on hand as a panelist to address how they were trying to make this easier for industry.

“There are many opportunities to reduce emissions, and the financial sector is a great steward to help grow all of those opportunities. We’re particularly excited about the ‘Climate Engagement in Canada Initiative’, an investment initiative that is pledging $3.6 trillion in assets to provide investors transition pathways and change the investment community to a more net-zero economy.”

When asked about some of the hurdles and roadblocks that are preventing technologies, energy and manufactured goods from being able to achieve their net-zero goals, both Dr. Jennifer Holmgren and Mark Little were clear.

“We let perfect be the enemy of good. Every day we don’t act on climate we are putting ourselves into a bigger hole,” she said, in reference to the amount of red tape and regulatory measures involved in financing or developing new technologies in Canada.

Jennifer also mentions that the pressure is felt in the advanced technologies sector to develop sustainable technologies.

“There’s lots of funding and work happening in labs, but going to commercialization is difficult and continues to be a challenge,” she said.

“It’s important to compress the research and development time. We need to be allowed to succeed, and fail, quickly. We can’t be stuck in limbo,” Dr. Holmgren concluded.

Mark Little agreed with the LanzaTech CEO’s comments, mentioning that less red tape, equaled more progress, supporting Dr. Holmgen’s call for legislation to be ‘technology neutral’, instead of supporting incumbent technologies.

The GLOBE Forum continues for until Mar. 31, where a variety of companies will make announcements and dive into cleantech projects that are making headway to develop a net-zero Canadian economy.