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David Suzuki Foundation Builds Partnerships Towards a Low-Carbon Energy Economy

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On July 9th, 2013, an enthusiastic group of 1% for the Planet members and nonprofits joined up for another Member Meet up event at East of Main Café in Vancouver.   During a break between cocktail chatter, attendees were treated to a compelling talk by Ian Bruce, Manager of Science and Policy at the David Suzuki Foundation.

Ian began by positing that “climate change is the greatest political, economic, and social issue of our time,” citing that, as in most countries, about 85% of Canada’s greenhouse gases (GHGs) come from the use and production of energy, the area in which his work is focused.  He shared a bit of his background as a native of New Brunswick whose great love of the outdoors drew him to study earth sciences and geological engineering.  He was recruited out of university to work for a large multinational oil and gas service company, which was an exciting opportunity for him until, one day, “something changed.”

Standing on a helicopter pad in the Gulf of Mexico that day, looking around with a 360 degree view of a city of oil and gas platforms, he understood “in an instant” the magnitude and impact of fossil fuels being burned for our energy systems each and every day – to power our industries, get us to work, heat and cool our homes… and in that moment, he says, “I made a 180 degree turn in my career.”

Turning to today’s energy politics, Ian said he believes that Canada is “clearly grappling with an energy identity crisis.”  While the federal government lacks a sound energy strategy, a number of provinces and municipalities have taken a leadership role in addressing ways to decrease Canada’s GHG emissions. Even so, the media, and lately the federal government, have played up the polarization.

Ian then introduced the Trottier Energy Futures Project (TEFP), built on the belief that “collaboration, diverse voices and partnerships are key to overcoming this political polarization” and achieving a successful low-carbon energy economy in Canada.  The TEFP, a unique partnership between the David Suzuki Foundation, the Canadian Association of Engineers and the Trottier Family Foundation, is researching and modeling transformative energy pathways that will lead to a radical reduction in GHG emissions in Canada – the target is 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.   The group is one of the first research projects to investigate strategies and design considerations to reduce the patterns — and demand — for energy services.

Ian left the crowd excited about the potential of “building a new energy system from scratch.” He pointed out that “massive transformation is already underway, but it’s happening organically.”  And he invited those in the room, representing 1% for the Planet companies and nonprofits, to add their talents to solving this complex issue.  Contact Ian Bruce at ibruce@davidsuzuki.org.

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