Tag Archives: Globe 2010

Green Oil And The Globe

The Globe 2010 Conference put on by the Globe Foundation dealt with a diversity of green topics but mostly it dealt with the topic of the Future of Energy. Green oil and the globe. Sort of has a “green eggs and ham” ring to it, doesn’t it? Sounds paradoxical, properties you wouldn’t normally put together – green oil/ green eggs…it sounds, well, it sounds downright Dr. Seussical.

But Green Oil, and, to the point, green energy is what a healthy showing of some of the world’s biggest oil and energy companies came out to talk about and did so on stages in front of thousands of people.

Alberta, Canada Tar Sands

It’s tempting to state that because the conference took place on the home court of the Tar Sands Oil industry, the topic dominated the conversation. But it’s more accurate to say that tar sands simply dominate the conversation at present because of the enormity of the reserves, mostly in Canada, and because the infrastructure for distribution is already in place.

Some Facts before we continue:

  • Oil sands in Canada are 2nd only to Saudi Arabia in terms of reserves.
  • Oil sands will be the primary energy resources for the next century.
  • Half of the freely traded energy reserves is in the oil sands.

Canada sits on an unrivalled energy resource base in the politically, economically free world. The following are excerpts from presentations and a discussion given by some of the corporate stakeholders’ CEO’s:

“An energy strategy can be a climate change strategy,” said Steve Williams, COO, Suncor Energy Inc., based out of Calgary. He stated that Suncor has big investments in renewable energy, is, in fact, one of the biggest investors in renewable energy. “We’re skating to where the puck is,” he said, quoting a famous hockey player.

Mobility is the issue. The discussion is not renewables, was the consensus. When we talk about renewables really what we are talking about is how to move people, smarter, better, more efficiently.

To that point, in a related panel, Bill Smith S.V.P. Energy Sector, Siemens Canada pointed out that we are talking about the “electrification of personal transportation” and its supporting infrastructure. For example, he can see a day when people re-fuel at charging stations set up at Tim Horton’s [Am. Transl. = Dunkin’ Donuts].

Natural Gas, A Transitional Fuel

Natural Gas is another big dog when it comes to any present day practical discussions about transitioning from a fossil fuel economy to one based on renewables. Greg Ebel, President and CEO, Spectra Energy, drove home the point that there has been considerable transformational changes in natural gas on all fronts even just in the past two years. “We met two years ago but with all the changes in natural gas, it could have been two decades ago.” He explained that with the technology we have today to go after the natural gas reserves, as opposed to just two years ago, we now have increased our N. American gas supplies by 58%. Those supplies can last N. America a good two centuries longer, he said.

“What was grand and impossible 18 months ago is now commonplace. Technology doubles every 18 months.” – Greg Ebel.

He also pointed out that a greater use of natural gas appliances will represent a huge energy efficiency. For example, 65 million homes heated by Natural Gas today equals 35 million homes heated by coal in 1970.

And insofar as policy makers go regarding fuel efficiency and renewables, “If you’re using a policy playbook 12-36 months out of date then you can’t take advantage of a changing opportunity.” – Ebel

Steve Snyder, President and CEO of TransAlta Corporation, Calgary, put it simply: “It is the technology, stupid,” he said, to no one in particular and everyone at once.

Based in Calgary, Alberta

His emphasis was that we are not in such the rush as we think we should be. “Oil, gas, electricity will still be here in 40 years. This is a 50 year issue, not a two year issue.”

An aspect of the fossil fuels/renewables/ GHG emissions conversation he hammered on was that we are identifying large problems and then jumping right in with micro-level solutions. “For example when we come up with proposed solutions to shut down the oil sands, everybody ride a bike, change a lightbulb and close the coal factories, these might be missing the mark.” To note, TransAlta was one of Canada’s first companies to make a significant investment in wind energy.

Snyder is a big supporter of Smart Metering. One of the challenges renewable energy poses to consumers is its potential for sporadic delivery. The wind doesn’t blow, the sun don’t shine and you’ve got no light or heat, goes the average consumers’ commonsensical thinking. And as consumers, we tolerate no room for error. We, at least in N. America, have come to expect power delivery 24/7. An expectation that California voters expressed only all too clearly a few years back in a special gubernatorial election.

The Smart Grid and Smart Metering looks like it will prove to be a technological solution to this challenge. Snyder suggested we accept the fact that a certain amount of government subsidies for renewables is necessary. He pointed out that the energy sector now [oil, yes] is subsidized and always has been. “Accept the science we have time,” he added.

Clarence Cazalot, Jr., President and CEO of Houston, Texas based Marathon Oil, said that reducing GHG emissions 17% by 2020 is “Tougher than putting a man on the moon.” He pointed out that the energy demand increase, primarily in the economically developing world, will be 40% between 2010 and 2030. “That’s equivalent to adding two United States to the global energy demand.”

When asked what he thought about Natural Gas as a viable transitional fuel, he responded that Marathon Oil is in the business of Tar Sands Oil, not natural gas. Marathon Oil is heavily invested in Alberta’s Tar Sands Oil industry. He also stated that, “We don’t need elected officials picking winners or losers. Waxman-Markey Bill picked winners and losers.” That bill in the U.S. is also known as the Clean Energy and Security Act.

Read More Here >>>We’re going to look back in 30-40 years and see that this was a much easier problem to solve than we thought.” – Nicholas Parker, Executive Chairman, CleanTech Group, S.F., California.

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Where The Puck Are We Going?

I guess it could be said that at last week’s Globe 2010 Conference, people were watching their p’s and q’s…and f’s…and still finding a way to tell it.

One of the most heartening awakenings to come out of the conference was to see corporate leadership acknowledge the fact that we can’t solve these problems with the same minds that created them.


Nicholas Parker, Executive Chairman, Cleantech Group LLC, based out of San Francisco stated that, yes, much of these issues of fuel efficiency, GHG emission reduction and Climate Change are questions of technology. “The technology is interpersonal neurobiology.” [Meaning the way we think.] “This is the technology. [here he tapped his forehead] We’re not going to solve the problems with the minds that created them.”

He added that we need “hypergrowth in happiness.”

“Climate change is not a problem. It’s a symptom of a problem. We have an accounting problem. We’re liquidating the assets of our resources and calling it income…The failure to imagine the future is what’s getting us here. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you get there? So, where the puck are we going?” he asked the large audience assembled to hear him and others speak on the Town Hall panel. “We are going to look back in 30-40 years and see that this was a much easier problem to solve than we thought. We need to think along the lines of an abundance economy and we need to be inclusive.”

Joining him in the discussion was David Runnalls, President and CEO, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Ottawa, Canada, “The fact is we don’t have much time. We have to make a major dent in GHG emissions by 2020. 2050 is too easy a goal because we’ll all be dead by then. We have to get going on this idea and do something with it. We can’t just fiddle around with it.”

Stay tuned for Globe 2012

Tony Manwaring, CEO of Tomorrow’s Company, London, UK noted the instability that comes from the world heating up – food scarcity issues, national security. He defined a green economy as one where “economic, social, spiritual and environmental capital are valued.”

He stated that “two years ago [the Globe Conference is every two years] we were talking about getting real. We need to bring the future into the present.” He shared that he missed his kids. An interesting point given that most of the panels were dominated by male speakers with a light sprinkling of the occasional woman and no kids were featured. Given that we are discussing to ad nauseum the future of the Earth’s resources, it would make sense to include in that discussion some of the people who will be around living on it. Or is that just my particular brand of logic?

Manwaring continued by pointing out that there needs to be established relationships between government, business and civil society. Runnalls chimed in noting that there is a false dichotomy of top-down or bottom-up instigation for change and shift. He called out the “constipation of the international process. Sooner or later we have to come to an international agreement to reduce GHG emissions that has a greater amount of equity globally.”

On another panel, “Now What? Dialogue On Implications For Business From Cop 15,” Graeme Sweeney, Exec. VP, CO2, Shell International Petroleum Co., Ltd. noted that “This is an AND conversation. Not a dialectic. It’s not governments or corporations. It’s governments and corporations.”

Speaking on the same topic, Dan Hendrix, Pres. And CEO of Interface Inc. showed some empathy for the little guy when he said that, “The reason why companies don’t get on board with it is because the CEO doesn’t get on board with it. And you have to have a board [of directors] that goes along with it. Interface is now the darlings of Wall Street – because we’re green!” His lieutenant, Dianne Dillon-Ridgley spoke at the women’s networking luncheon, as well.

Fast forward to Friday, the final day of the conference, back at the Town Hall Meeting. Moderator Christopher Henderson, Pres. Lumos Energy, Ottawa, inspired attendees when he said that “We’re going to make our luck today.” He also posed the challenge, “What are you going to take away from the conference? What are you going to do on Monday?”

British Columbia’s Minister of State for Climate Action, John Yap stated that it’s all about choices. “Green is mainstream,” he said, “Climate change is the challenge of our generation.” He cited the example of a new condo development in Victoria that is using geothermal energy for its power infrastructure, thereby significantly lowering its carbon footprint. “The consumers who choose those condos will be paying for the geothermal rather than, for example, granite kitchen countertops. Choices. It’s about choices.”

*Note: Christopher Henderson’s book on First Nation’s Energy Rights is due out in August. The book discusses his area of expertise which is “legal proceedings and aboriginal rights” as they pertain to land holdings and renewable energy sources.

Read More Here >>> Green Oil And The Globe

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Yap Announces New Climate Action App

British Columbia’s Minister of State for Climate Action, Honourable John Yap announces new mobile app contest

This morning on the final day of the Globe 2010 conference on Climate Change, British Columbia’s Honourable Minister of State for Climate Action, John Yap, announced the Apps4ClimateAction contest.

So, in fact it’s even more fun and groovy than simply one new mobile app to download, because what B.C. is doing is launching a contest for developers to come up with the best  mobile app – AND they’ve got $40,000 CDN in cash and prizes to give away to the ones who do it well.

“This will appeal to a lot of people, especially the young and the creative,” commented Minister Yap at the morning’s press conference. “The contest allows for software developers to access government data sets to develop mobile apps that can then be downloaded for use on iPhones, Blackberries, and other mobile devices.  We expect to see developers come up with a range of apps from games to measuring tools. They are limited only by their creativity.  There are 500 data sets that have been made available to developers. It’s a way for us to get the message out that all of us as individuals can take ownership of Climate Action.”

The contest’s $40,000 in cash and prizes are spread across five categories: best mobile app, best web app, people’s choice, best of B.C. and overall best app.

It’s sort of like British Columbia’s version of the X Prize for Climate Action Apps.

James Mack, B.C.’s Climate Action Secretariat explained that the 500 Data Sets that have been made available for designers are all in readable code and are app-design friendly. They are also Open Source Code friendly. “We’ve outlined some broad themes that the design community can use as guidelines but mostly it’s up to the community to show innovation and elicit public engagement,” he said at the Vancouver Convention Center this morning.

Partners who have helped provide the cash prizes and funding are: SAP Canada Inc., who is the gold sponsor of the contest.  “We believe we have a dual role with sustainability, as exemplar and as enabler,” said Kirsten Sutton, managing director SAP Labs Vancouver.

Other partners are: Microsoft Canada, Inc., Analytic Design Group, David Eaves Inc., Netscribe Communications, TELUS Corporation, Harbour Air Ltd., and Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center.

Submission deadline for Apps4ClimateAction contest is July 25, 2010.  Be sure to register to vote for the People’s Choice Award for favorite App by August 20, 2010.  Winners announced September 2010.

For deets on contest rules and prizes:  www.Apps4ClimateAction.gov.bc.ca.

“Bringing together British Columbia’s data resources and the creativity of the software community opens up the potential for people to see climate change in entirely new ways,” said Yap. “The great prizes and support of our sponsors will give us web and mobile apps that educate people about climate change and help motivate them to reduce their own carbon footprint.”

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