Navigating Net Zero: JWN Energy to launch COP26 series next week

COP26 will be as much about the words as it will be about the numbers.

As the world’s attention turns to Glasgow at the end of this month and into November for the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, and the 26th annual meeting since the signing of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, it is difficult to predict what will emerge at the conference’s close.

One key goal is for delegates to put the finishing touches on the Paris Rulebook, first advanced in 2015. But given the momentum the climate debate has gained in recent months, COP26 is expected to produce new and renewed commitments to collective action. Still, it’s safe to say there will be much debate and discussion to weigh and ponder — and many numbers to find the right context in which to contemplate them — as representatives from nearly 200 countries seek consensus on that collective action.

Canada is not the world’s largest emitter, of course, but it’s among the handful of developed countries whose emissions are still growing. And given that reality, there’s a heavier burden on Canada to demonstrate a commitment to action perhaps more than most.

For Canadians in general, and Albertans in particular, COP26 presents an opportunity to ground Canada’s climate efforts in a global context. It’s an opportunity to think critically about choices the country needs to make in the swirling complexities of what we now know as a Net Zero world. It’s a chance to make sense of the headlines and broadcasts about climate considerations that are now a daily staple of our lives. 

Net Zero is a term burdened with tremendous responsibilities — but also tremendous opportunities. Net Zero is about critical choices Canadians will make. It will influence how we vote and how we invest. It will impact the taxes we pay. It will crystalize our sense of environmental responsibility. It will shape our global perspectives as it cracks open the sad realities of energy poverty and energy entitlement. It will mold our thinking generationally.

COP26 is an opportunity to put Net Zero into thoughtful context — and navigationally map out strategic pathways forward.

It can be challenging to sort the climate wheat from the climate chaff — to understand what is true and valid and distinguish it from the politicized and radicalized hyperbole at the fringe. To help Canadians keen to understand what is a highly nuanced issue, we asked nine individuals to share their thoughts in the days leading up to COP26. Their perspectives will be presented via our Navigating Net Zero platform — a thought leadership framework created at JWN Energy to curate content related to Canadian efforts on the climate file. The authors were selected because they each offer a different view of how to contemplate climate — and understand the climate pathways down which Canada and Alberta are already journeying. They represent the policy and innovation ecosystems, as well as the corporate and Indigenous sectors.

Our “perspectives panel” includes:

  • Marla Orenstein, director, Natural Resources Centre, and Janet Lane, director, Human Capital Centre, Canada West Foundation
  • Jeanette Jackson, chief executive officer, Foresight
  • Jim Boucher, chair and president, Saa Dene Group
  • Laura Kilcrease, chief executive officer, Alberta Innovates
  • Michael Binnion, chief executive officer, Questerre Energy Corporation and Modern Miracle Network
  • Steve MacDonald, chief executive officer, Emissions Reduction Alberta
  • Brad Hayes, director, Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources
  • Martha Hall Findlay, chief sustainability officer, Suncor Energy Inc.

“Net Zero” is also tied directly to the concept of energy transition — another term that bears much responsibility. Like Net Zero, energy transition is “social shorthand” that is now part of our lives in ways we are only beginning to discern. Like Net Zero, “energy transition” has the potential to be both unifying and divisive as Canadians face a range of increasingly difficult choices about energy and the climate.

Through JWN’s Navigating Net Zero platform, our goal is to convene conversations that are balanced and constructive — creating a space that responsibly advances the dialogues central to climate considerations as Canada explores its pathways and possibilities.

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