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Leading Change and GLOBE 2020

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Student Energy recently participated in Leading Change and GLOBE 2020 last week in Vancouver, BC. As long-time attendees and friends of the GLOBE Series, we are happy to see the program growing and evolving each year. At the end of this recap, we’ll share some of our highlights and favourite moments!

Energy Transformation Policy Sprint

From a youth perspective, the policy-making process can sometimes seem quite opaque. Many of us know in general the kinds of changes we need to see in order to accelerate the energy transition, but how do we drill down into specifics? Who will implement these new programs, assign incentives and disincentives, and evaluate progress? How can we address specific local issues while ensuring policy packages are scalable?

To get a taste of what the policy-making process involves, Student Energy ran an Energy Transformation Policy Sprint at Leading Change, challenging participants to design a policy addressing one of three of the largest sources of carbon emissions in Canada: Industry, Transport, or Buildings. 

Here is a sample of what our groups came up with during the Policy Sprint (click to enlarge):

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What If? Unpacking energy scenarios and what they mean for Canada

 

On February 12th, Student Energy’s Executive Director, Meredith Adler, moderated a mainstage panel at GLOBE 2020, with speakers representing organizations that produce or rely on energy scenarios in their decision-making:

 This panel dove into the assumptions behind energy modelling and forecasting, unpacking how people relate to complex energy topics, and energy scenarios inform policymaking.
 
Energy scenarios are highly influential in determining the scope, timeline and ambition of climate targets across all sectors, from energy companies to the financial sector to governments' policies, so it's important that these models are aligned with climate science. Young people are deeply concerned that many governments and companies may set emissions targets that are too low, with timelines too far away to limit warming to 1.5C. Many of these timelines and targets are heavily influenced by energy scenarios. Whether they are intended to be neutral data sets and analysis or recommendations, energy scenarios set a standard for what is considered feasible or economically advantageous

Our takeaways from the panel

  • Most influential energy forecasts are based on current and historical trends - there are few forecasts that actually predict and provide pathways to achieving a 1.5 or 2C future, which could contribute to setting targets that are too weak or too gradual. 
  • Scenarios that do show pathways forward often include solutions that are not yet sufficiently scalable (carbon capture and storage, certain types of nature based solutions). 
  • Models can sometimes overlook social issues like affordability and accessibility in the energy transition (for example, whether people can afford to adopt necessary new technologies, retrofits, or transition careers).

Highlights at Leading Change and GLOBE 2020

As GLOBE takes place in Canada, the conference is undoubtedly affected by current events in Canada. Right now, land defenders from the Wet’suwet’en and supporting Indigenous nations are leading actions across Canada to halt construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through unceded traditional territory and oppose police intervention on these lands. So the topic of Indigenous sovereignty (particularly in relation to climate change) was at the forefront of many of the conversations we witnessed at the conference, including in MC Larissa Crawford’s opening remarks and delegate Christie McLeod's question.
 
We appreciate GLOBE’s openness to making space for these important conversations.

Another highlight for us was Faceoff: The Energy Panacea, an exciting panel debate that explored whether there are any silver bullet solutions in the energy transition (spoiler alert: there aren't), and whether we've prioritized the right solutions and industries to take us forward. You can check out the full panel here!