The energy question has never been more vital, or more relevant, as it is today. This past May I had the opportunity to attend the Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation Conference in Vancouver, where there was a definite buzz in the air reflecting Canada’s commitment to strengthen cooperation amongst governments, the private sector, and international organizations to facilitate a transition pathway and accelerate progress towards a clean energy future (ex: hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, etc., as well as energy efficiency solutions).
The world is at a pivotal moment, when the global transition to a low-carbon economy is one of the greatest challenges — and opportunities — of our lifetime. Furthermore this transition represents a real opportunity for Canada to innovate and lead the way.
I was invited to speak on an expert panel on the electrification of transport on May 26 by the International Energy Agency and the Electric Vehicle Initiative. Moderated by Pierpaolo Cazzola of the IEA, I lent my expertise to the Infrastructure Panel where I touched on the challenges and solutions required to deploy EV (Electric Vehicles) in mass transit and freight. The discussion covered the charging ecosystem and what will be required, from electricity generation with renewables to different charging technologies on or off grid, and the ensuing energy and infrastructure requirements of light- and heavy-duty vehicles. In particular, I lingered on what is needed to anticipate and deal with the challenges at the market level, as well as the need to engage with private equity and other investors in urban infrastructure, since neither national nor local governments have the financial bandwidth to pay for it all.
It was thrilling and inspiring to be among an incredible group of experts passionate about EV, including the members of the Government of Canada and Natural Resources Canada (shout out to the dynamic leadership of Paula Veira, Director of Transport) who were responsible for the Electric Vehicle Initiative as well as the curriculum of CEM10/MI4. I also attended one of the conferences’ flagship events, the Women in Clean Energy Breakfast moderated by Michelle Branigan. I was particularly moved by the talks of Chilean Minister of Energy, Susana Jiménez (who spoke with emotional authenticity) and CEO and Social Representative of the UN Secretary General, Rachel Kyte (whose tough, no-nonsense attitude was contagious and inspiring). The breakfast also launched the EQUALby30 Global Campaign to prioritize gender equality at the heart of the global transition to a clean energy future. At the invitation of the Government of Canada, ABB signed the campaign.
My primary takeaway is that it was great to witness the diversity and number of experts who are committed to the EV initiative, and who came from all over the world to make the CEM10/MI4 a success. And, on a parting note, I want to encourage everyone reading this to take a look at the EQUALby30 Global Campaign and see if there’s room for your organization to become involved in gender equity towards a clean energy future.