Earlier this month, I hosted a terrific discussion on climate change, focusing on what we can do today to prepare for the potentially dire effects of a planet that is getting warmer.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to David Pearson, David Robinson, Cathy Orlando and Ross Assinewe for their expert insight, and to the dozens of Sudburians who came with their excellent questions and suggestions.
I was left with two distinct conclusions from this discussion.
1) The situation is serious and we’re running out of time to act. We, frankly, do not have time to continue pandering to climate change deniers. We need to fight climate change together, not fight each other.
And 2), Sudbury is uniquely poised to lead Canada in the fight against climate change. Because of our history, because of our leadership and because of our resources, Sudbury is already at the forefront of climate action in Canada, and we need to work together to make sure we stay there. With the help of work that is happening in our very community, our government is able to take meaningful action to prevent and mitigate the worst effects of climate change.
A low-carbon economy requires clean energy, and clean energy requires energy storage and smart grid technology. Take, for example, the increase in the number of electric vehicles, which are expected to exceed 130 million by 2030, as well as the growing use of storage technology to integrate renewable energy sources into the grid. This is part of what is driving the $23-billion global battery industry to grow to an expected $90+ billion over the next decade.
Batteries and smart grid technology require nickel, copper, cobalt and precious metals that are found in Sudbury and Northern Ontario. This means the world will need these resources more than ever. And more than that, the world needs these resources to be produced sustainably. That’s where Sudbury comes in.
Operating in one of the largest, mineral-rich regions on the planet, Sudbury’s mining and related service sectors are leading the charge when it comes to research and innovation in efficient and responsible mineral extraction and processing.
Sudbury has a story of the incredible progress — both ecologically and economically — and I tell that story every day when I am in Ottawa. Sudbury’s transformation into a model for the future is being woven into our innovation and climate change infrastructure.
For example, also in July, I helped announce the Charging the Future Challenge to accelerate the most promising Canadian battery innovations from lab to market. During the 18-month challenge, five finalists will pitch their concepts to a jury of experts to win up to $700,000 each to develop their battery prototype. Ultimately, the most promising battery breakthrough will be awarded a $1-million grand prize.
The Challenge is just one of six cleantech challenges that are part of the Impact Canada Initiative. Challenges were designed to attract a diverse range of problem solvers to generate breakthrough cleantech outcomes. Just like we have done here.
Forty years ago, Sudbury faced down the challenges associated with acid rain. Through the combination of government regulation and industry, community and academic partnerships, the result is green city and a vibrant economy based on mining innovation. That’s what Sudbury brings to the table in today’s climate challenge … and it is formidable.
I am proud to represent a city and a government that tackle major problems head on, that embrace science- and innovation-based solutions and project a positive vision for the future.
Paul Lefebvre is Member of Parliament for Sudbury and Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources.