Alberta is ready for the energy evolutionA look back at the 2018 Alberta Climate Summit

Blog - Oct. 2, 2018 - By Nina Lothian

Photo: Roberta Franchuk, Pembina Institute

Last week we were proud to hold our 4th annual Alberta Climate Summit in Calgary. It was a full day with lots of media attention and a packed room of nearly 500 climate thought leaders, who gathered to take in new perspectives and make new connections.

The diversity in the room – with representatives from government, industry, community organizations, Indigenous communities, and other environmental groups — clearly demonstrates a momentum and interest in the energy evolution in Alberta.

The day’s topics ranged from global to local. We heard from Morgan Bazilian from the Colorado School of Mines’ Payne Institute on examples of oil and gas transitions in other jurisdictions. We were also very lucky to have Mr. Li Junfeng join us from China to tell us about climate action and policies on the other side of the world.

There was also great discussion at the local level. One of the highlights was the Indigenous energy panel. Melissa Quesnelle from Indigenous Clean Energy Social Enterprise moderated a conversation with Troy Jerome, Ernie Daniels, and Vicki Wetchie about the economic development opportunities around clean energy development led by Indigenous communities. The panel included an interesting conversation about what equity really means and ideas for working with Indigenous groups on joint ventures.

Back by popular demand, we also held the second annual Youth Energy Changemakers pitch. Not only did we hear four enterprising ideas from this year’s Changemakers, we also heard back from last year’s cohort, including Disa Crow Chief and Cory Beaver — they’re hard at work planning the first Indigenous Student Energy Summit!  

The Honourable Shannon Phillips, Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks also joined us to make some remarks, commending the Youth Energy Changemakers on their understanding surrounding the urgency of climate change and their leadership in response. The minister also repeated the province’s commitment to the carbon levy, spoke about how carbon pricing makes a clear, stable investment signal, and reiterated support for the work that scientists are doing.

During the afternoon, five breakout sessions let attendees explore everything from the future of natural gas to the challenges and opportunities facing communities are they encounter energy transition. In one breakout session, “Experiential Energy Transition”, 40 participants also experienced the push and pull of the energy industry as they took on the roles of elected officials, businesses and voters in an interactive session.

Also in the afternoon was the “Energy Evolution is Good Business” panel, with Pat Carlson, Ian MacGregor, and Dale Ross, mayor of Georgetown, Texas who led his small conservative town to 100 per cent renewable energy. The panel reflected on the changes in the oil and gas sector, and what it takes to reduce emissions from the sector, while transitioning to more clean energy.

The day wrapped up with a report on the Alberta Narratives Project — an initiative that began at last year’s summit. George Marshall and Amber Bennett from Climate Outreach shared insights from a year-long conversation with a diverse group of Albertans, working to uncover fresh approaches on how to talk about climate and energy issues, build bridges and find common ground. The full report on the project, which the Pembina Institute partnered on, can be found here.

This year’s summit struck up new and challenging conversations around how Albertans can lead the energy evolution. We’re excited to keep the conversation going.


Nina Lothian

Nina Lothian is the director of the Pembina Institute's fossil fuel program. She is based in Edmonton.


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