Calgary’s Climate Symposium
March 29, 2021
Dear Calgary City Council:
I attended the City-sponsored annual Climate Symposium last week that discussed how climate change is impacting Calgary and what innovative solutions could be implemented. These issues are top-of-mind for many, and it’s not the overall topic that I’m concerned about; it’s some of the speakers.
Speakers such as the following environmentalists were given an opportunity to share their knowledge with the 3,000 plus attendees:
Keynote speaker Bruce Lourie – the ubiquitous president of the Toronto-based Ivey Foundation, helped form the Task Force for a Resilient Recovery, and also played a role in Ontario’s Green Energy Act, among other things.
Michael Mann – the creator of the infamous CO2 “hockey stick graph”.
Ed Whittingham – the former Executive Director of the Pembina Institute who became famous when he encountered backlash after being appointed to the Alberta Energy Regulator’s Board by the NDP.
Staff from the Pembina Institute, an ENGO that’s actively campaigned against the fossil fuel sector.
What was noticeably missing from the roster were members from Calgary’s oil and gas industry that are working on innovations while providing the city and the country with reliable, affordable energy.
In fairness, there were two staff from ATCO discussing the topic “Innovation and Decarbonization in Natural Gas Distribution”, which was a fascinating presentation on the technology their company is working on in the fields of hydrogen and renewable natural gas; it’s important research and something all Calgarians should be proud of.
However, that is not the only innovative work being done by Calgary-based energy companies. Why wasn’t there a presentation from such organizations such the Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN) or Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA)? Were they given an opportunity to present but chose not to? If so, did they feel welcomed to the symposium?
I was pleased to hear the presenter for the “Building Calgary’s New Economy Through Climate Resilience” session present an honest assessment of Calgary’s economy and the future of energy, while acknowledging the importance of the oil and gas sector and its workers in Calgary’s future. The City needs more thought leaders who are visionary, realistic, and prepared to act, not just talk.
The City needs to engage with the oil and gas sector to help with the economic recovery and the energy transition. Yes, the City has to be innovative, but not at the expense of the industry and the people that made Calgary what it is today. The climate strategy needs to include and work closely with the oil and gas sector.
Undoubtedly, talking about and educating on the environment is important, and the City has a role to play; however, balance is important, and the City should not overstep its jurisdictional responsibilities.
The oil and gas sector has powered this city, literally and figuratively, for generations. Our city slogan is “Be Part of the Energy”; therefore, we should be proud of the oil and gas industry, not treat it like an “embarrassing cousin”.
If Council doesn’t support oil and gas workers, maybe oil and gas workers shouldn’t support Council, especially those members who are running for re-election in October. Calgarians should be asking their current council member and anyone running in the October municipal election some hard questions about their support for the oil and gas sector, especially in light of the of invited speakers to this symposium and lack of representation from the oil and gas industry.
Look for a sample of those “hard” questions in a future article.
If you have a comment for any City of Calgary council member, he/she can be reached here:
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