Kevin Krausert is the CEO & co-founder of Avatar Innovations Inc.
The politics of energy are once again playing in Canadian theatres. This time, a relatively new and unknown actor entered the plot and took centre stage: Jyoti Gondek, who is being sworn in today as Mayor of Calgary, Canada’s energy capital. She moved into the spotlight last week with two simple words – to “move past” oil and gas.
Before unpacking the audience reaction, it’s worth noting a couple facts.
First, Ms. Gondek’s comments were taken out of context.
Second, she won a decisive mandate to lead Calgary for the next four years with a cornerstone of her campaign being a pledge to build Calgary into a global energy transition leader.
Her entrance onto the stage was far less predictable than the well-rehearsed performances that took place next on stage right and stage left from the Twitter-verse and partisan, non-energy writers.
The characters on stage right spoke first, articulating a legitimate frustration many in our country’s energy sector acutely feel. Being the most responsible producers of energy in the world busily investing, innovating and implementing the energy transition – how dare someone suggest we “move past” this important work?
It didn’t take long for stage left to want in on the show, expressing a legitimate frustration many in our country’s climate movement acutely feel. After decades of irrefutable scientific evidence on the catastrophic effects of climate change feeling like nothing other than an emergency – they reiterated their chorus: that we move past emissions right now before it becomes too late and the show ends in tragedy.
Indeed, the astronomical rise of energy prices around the world in recent months – driven by a lack of investment in new oil and gas development coupled with stronger than expected demand as the economy recovers – has laid bare a profound disconnect between reality and fiction. But this same reality parallels the truth that the same rise in energy prices makes the competitors to oil and gas that much more economic.
Despite the cheers and jeers from the side stage, Canada’s audience is far more sophisticated. It knows that solutions to complex problems cannot be found in soundbites or headlines – but only with real action and real investment.
It’s far past time Canada – and Calgary – “move past” the petty politics of energy extremes and work together to solve the most urgent issue of our generation: providing abundant, economic and zero-emissions energy to the world.
It will require an all-hands on-stage approach. The actors simply clamoring for a feigned applause line or an overacted dramatic scene should take their final bow. Now. The rest of us – and the vast majority of Calgarians and Canadians, are busy at work implementing solutions.
As the RBC Economics report released last week clearly shows, reaching a net-zero energy future will require roughly $2-trillion dollars of investment and technological innovation on a scale never seen before. There is no time to discount one compelling solution over the other based on emotional bias or outdated market data.
We need an open mind and collective purpose. And despite the chaotic performance of our predictable and tired actors on stage left and stage right in recent days – we are starting to getting this right. Finally.
The titans of the stage are starting to take back the plot with the ultimate conclusion: the energy industry can and must be a meaningful and powerful partner in the planet’s climate ambitions.
Every historical oil and gas investment firm in Canada is now investing in energy transition. The oil and gas producers of the future are busily investing in hydrogen, carbon capture and even solar. The renewable energy players are working with oil and gas on new technologies that can solve energy storage for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.
Perhaps most impressively, they are investing in the people working in these solutions with innovative new forms of entrepreneurship to ensure the leaders of tomorrow are the ones who build it.
It’s why I’m so excited about the future of Calgary. It’s why I’m so excited about the future of Canada.
The energy transition is the single greatest economic opportunity of our lifetimes. It includes oil and gas. It includes renewables.
And Calgary is Canada’s capital of the energy transition.
As Bill Gates said last week in Princeton, New Jersey, the energy transition presents the opportunity to create some of the world’s largest and most lucrative companies. It will create “eight Teslas, 10 Teslas” and “Microsoft, Google, Amazon type-companies that come out of this space.”
How many of them are going to be headquartered in Calgary? That’s the plot line and narrative governments at all levels need to own.
Let the actors on stage left and stage right take their bows. The main act has just begun. Centre stage.
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