On Monday, January 17th 2011 in Calgary, Corporate Knights Magazine teamed with the Energy Policy Institute of Canada (EPIC) to invite key thought leaders to discuss the significant challenges facing the economy, energy, and the environment. They focused on the following question: Most Canadians expect that we all will eventually transition from carbon-based to low carbon energy. Given that the transition will take years, how can we best manage it?
While initiating change is one of the focuses of a Canadian energy strategy, decision makers must be cautious to ensure that proposed changes are attainable and sustainable. Dr. Roger Gibbins, President and CEO of the Canada West Foundation, is in favour of improving methods for handling our resources. “The prescription going forward is very simple, alarmingly simple. That is we have to continue doing what we do best only do it better, and much better, going forward." (Paul Wells, Daily Oil Bulletin January 17, 2011.)
In addition to building attainable goals, measuring environmental consequences should be considered when discussing an energy strategy. Preston Manning feels that, “The first principle should be proper measurement of the environmental impacts of all our major energy sources, not just oilsands within the petroleum sector. There's an old saying: 'If it matters, measure it.' I don't think we measure the environmental impact right across the board to the degree that we need to." (Wells) By measuring environmental impact in all aspects of energy, not only the oilsands, we will be able to obtain a more comprehensive look at our energy environment.
Marlo Raynolds, senior advisor to the Pembina Institute expressed the importance of reviewing our consumption, "I do think it has to focus and hit the greenhouse gas emission head on ... I don't see why we would move into strategy discussions around energy without really addressing the need for deep reductions." (Wells) While a greater understanding of more efficient processes and better tools to measure their impact will help us become more efficient, we must also focus on how we can reduce our reliance on carbon-based energy to ensure long-term success.
Regardless of the main driver behind a Canadian energy strategy, Dr. Gibbins supports the notion that a Canadian energy policy must focus on Canada’s strengths, one of which is Canada’s ability to make improvements on existing technology, "We will be the solar power panel installers," he said. "We won't design them. We won't build them." (Dan Healing, Calgary Herald January 18th 2011.)
"Our role going forward is not to figure out how to transition away from hydrocarbons—the world will be working on that. What we have to do is figure out how to get better—much better—at the green production of hydrocarbons." Gibbins said. (Wells)
The suggestions from the roundtables in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver will be taken into consideration as EPIC creates a proposal to the federal and provincial governments for a Canadian energy strategy.
The Canada West Foundation has multiple initiatives focused on driving constructive discussion about energy policy and Canada’s energy future under the Powering Up for the Future Project. In November 2010, the Canada West Foundation published Western Leadership for a Canadian Energy Strategy, which outlined the need for reform of current Canadian energy policy, along with the principles upon which western leadership for a Canadian energy strategy should rest.
A new project, Let’s Talk Energy, is built around a series of short articles authored by Nexen Executive-in-Residence, Michael Cleland. The purpose is to get people talking about whether Canada needs an energy strategy, and if so, why and what ideas should inform such a strategy. The discussion and debate on this website may also serve to be relevant to Canada’s energy ministers when they meet in Kananaskis, Alberta in July 2011. For more details see letstalkenergy.ca.
“Debate on National Energy Strategy Wide-Ranging” Paul Wells, Daily Oil Bulletin (January 17, 2011)
“Don’t count on officials for coherent energy policy: experts” Dan Healing, Calgary Herald (January 18, 2011)