Powering Conversation

A nation’s relationship with energy can tell you a lot about its culture – and where it’s heading.

To appreciate how this is so, it’s helpful to have an international perspective. Before joining Pollution Probe in 2010, our Chief Operating Officer (co-author of this editorial) worked in Abu Dhabi project managing construction on the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. The Institute is the centrepiece of Masdar City – a planned city intended to be “a model for sustainable urban development regionally and globally, seeking to be a commercially viable development that delivers the highest quality living and working environment with the lowest possible ecological footprint.” The City is designed to be car-free, and to rely entirely on renewable energy sources, with a sustainable, zero-carbon, zero-waste ecology. And it’s funded almost entirely by the government of Abu Dhabi … from wealth derived from its oil exports.

Bob Oliver, CEO, and Husam Mansour, COO, of Pollution Probe
Bob Oliver, CEO, and Husam Mansour, COO, of Pollution ProbePHOTO: DAVE STARRETT

This is a product of Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision for 2030, which is to diversify the nation’s economy away from oil revenues by investing in entrepreneurism, education and innovation.

Canada, like Abu Dhabi, is also graced with an enormous endowment of energy resources. In fact, Canada’s potential energy wealth is far larger and more diverse in both renewable and non-renewable forms of energy. In many ways, this makes creating a vision for Canada’s future, enabled by its energy wealth, all the more challenging.

Premiers of Canada’s provinces are taking on this challenge by developing a Shared Vision for Energy in Canada, supported by a Canadian energy strategy. Through the Council of the Federation, premiers issued a progress report in July 2013 that opens with a bold statement: “Economic development that is environmentally responsible is fundamental to ensure the success of Canada’s energy
future.” The commitments implicit in a strategy are also described: “…to ensuring a secure, sustainable, and reliable supply of energy that meets the domestic and economic needs of Canadians; maintaining high standards of environmental and social responsibility; conserving and using existing energy more efficiently; and enhancing Canada’s energy sectors through the development and deployment of new technologies.”

The energy system is composed of interconnected elements of technology and infrastructure that transform natural sources of energy into commodities to power useful services that deliver valued amenities, such as access, convenience and comfort. We’ve developed the chart pictured above to help readers connect articles in this magazine to particular parts of the energy system.

Fundamentally, this is a discussion about values – because it is not just about what we want to achieve together, but how we will work together to make it happen. But agreement on a set of common principles to guide our actions will require something new: “energy literacy,” meaning the ability to converse with one another about energy in terms that we can all understand. Energy literacy is therefore necessary for Canadians everywhere to participate in fulfilling our collective obligations to responsibly steward our energy endowment and to realize our potential as a global energy leader. To become an energy literate nation is to change our relationship with energy – a cultural transformation with profound implications for Canada’s future prosperity.

That is what this magazine is all about. Its purpose is to in Canada by exposing readers to interesting and possibly unfamiliar aspects of our energy system, and to challenge conventional notions. Wherever possible, we reveal the workings of the system through the voices of actual people. The views expressed may not be shared by all – and that’s the point. Energy Exchange is not the last word on any particular energy issue, nor is it intended to present only consensus viewpoints. It is an invitation to join a lively, important and timely conversation.

Energy Exchange is a strategic, collaborative national scale initiative dedicated to building energy literacy. Energy Exchange, a division of Pollution Probe, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing energy literacy in Canada. The Energy Exchange logo is a registered trademark. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written consent of the Publisher. Views of the writers do not necessarily reflect those of the Publisher.


Pollution Probe thanks the following individuals for contributing to this edition of Energy Exchange magazine:

Nadine Barber, Government & Public Affairs, Devon Canada
Jim Burpee, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Electricity Association
Daniel Goodwin, Country Communications Manager, Shell Canada Limited
Christopher Henderson, President, Lumos Energy
Fiona Jones, Director, Energy and Climate Change Policy, Suncor Energy
Linda Klaamas, Writer and Editor, Fouled Language
Sarah Lawley, Senior Manager, Communications, TD Environment /TD Bank Group
Don MacKinnon, President, Power Workers’ Union
Randall Mang, President, RandallAnthony Communications Inc.
Kim Warburton, Vice President, Communications/Public Affairs, GE
Bob Oliver, Chief Executive Officer, Pollution Probe
Husam Mansour, Chief Operating Officer, Pollution Probe


Bob Oliver, Chief Executive Officer
Husam Mansour, Chief Operating Officer
Linda Klaamas, Editorial Advisor
Julia Normand, Researcher

Randall Mang, Editor
Brenda Bouw, Lynn Sully, Assistant Editors
Scott Laing, Art Director

Teena Poirer, Director, Client Engagement
Charlene Rooke, Group Editor
Liz Massicotte, Program Manager
Isabelle Cabral, Production Co-ordinator, The Globe and Mail
Sally Pirri Director, Production, The Globe and Mail

Funding support from the following organizations helped make this edition of Energy Exchange magazine possible.

Leave a Comment