by FINANCIAL POST BUSINESS
When you read the list, ask yourself if there is an important voice in the debate on climate change who should be added to the list. Or maybe there's someone on the list who you think doesn't have much impact and should be taken off. Leave your comments here and join the debate.
Stephen Harper’s new-found environmental zeal has put him within striking distance of a majority government. That would give him free rein to carry out his “made-in-Canada” plan for addressing climate change — one that, incidentally, dodges the international credit-trading system mandated under the Kyoto Protocol. In its place, Harper’s plan is expected to inject $2
billion over 10 years into renewable energy facilities, technology and conservation measures. As leader of the opposition, he railed against the signing of Kyoto, calling it a “socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.” But with Liberal leader Stéphane Dion claiming moral high ground on the issue, the prime minister has performed a stunning reversal, committing billions to politically expedient projects across the country. Today he says, “the science is clear ... we must act.”
of public appearances. His most recent campaign, called “If You Were Prime Minister,” solicited opinions from ordinary Canadians on how to deal with global warming. It made 50 stops across Canada during a month-long tour in February.
Suzuki is now taking those comments to Ottawa. Considered a sage by many — and a crank by more than a few — Suzuki is an undeniable force and a master at using his celebrity to sway public opinion. Love him or hate him, when he speaks, Canada listens.
A Calgary MP since 2004, Jim Prentice was tipped as Stephen Harper’s first choice to replace former environment minister Rona Ambrose in January’s Cabinet shuffle. Instead, the job went to John Baird, a House of Commons rookie from Ottawa. Still, Prentice remains one of Harper’s most trusted lieutenants. As the senior cabinet minister for Alberta, he’s the Tory government’s point man on relations with the province’s powerful energy industry.
He led the discussion in February, for example, when he, Harper and Baird landed in Calgary for a summit with oilpatch leaders. A respected parliamentarian across the political spectrum, Prentice also chairs the Cabinet’s Operations Committee, which oversees the day-to-day management of policy issues. He has also been appointed — instead of the Environment Minister — to the chair of the Cabinet’s new Environment and Energy Security Committee.
Objective: Restore Liberal power
5. David Keith, Canada Research Chair in Energy and Environment, University of Calgary
Sphere of Influence: Academic researchers, national and international government leaders and policy-makers
Objective: To ground environment policy in thorough and innovative science
David Keith is a world-renowned expert on carbon capture, the process of extracting CO2 from industrial processes and storing it in underground vaults, such as decommissioned oil wells. His area of expertise offers a potential solution to the problem of achieving major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions without undermining national economies. Carbon capture is an important concept in the emerging environmental policies of Stephen Harper and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, and Keith is a member of Harper’s and Stelmach’s new Canada-Alberta ecoEnergy Carbon Capture and Storage Task Force. He is also an internationally recognized policy consultant and has held memberships on several influential boards and organizations, including Canada’s blue-ribbon Panel on Sustainable Energy Technology and the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change.
6. David Boyd, Environmental lawyer, university professor and researcher
Sphere of Influence: Politicians, policy wonks, environmental activists
Objective: To increase commitment to climate-change policy among business and government leaders
David Boyd is perhaps best-known as the author of UnNatural Law: Rethinking Canadian Environmental Law and Policy, a cogent critique of the shortcomings in Canada’s legal framework for environmental issues. Although first published in 2003, Boyd’s book remains influential today — and in surprising mix of quarters. Stephen Harper and federal Environment Minister John Baird have both quoted from its pages, pointing to the book’s sway among high-level environmental policy-makers. It’s also taught in universities and has been praised by David Suzuki as an “exhaustive” and “revealing” critique of Canadian environmental weaknesses. Boyd is also the former executive director of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund and has argued environmental law cases before the Supreme Court of Canada.
Still a rookie in the House of Commons, Environment Minister John Baird earned kudos during his first year for pushing through the Conservative government’s new Accountability Act without major hitches. That speaks well of the former Ontario MPP’s ability as a parliamentary project manager. And his reputation for aggressiveness in debate no doubt played into his appointment to the environment portfolio — especially as Harper and his party prepare for a bare-knuckle battle with Stéphane Dion for green credibility.
But commentators also note that Baird had little or no significant experience on his file before becoming environment minister. Many are asking whether he’s in this game as a strategist, or as an enforcer.
Sphere of Influence: National and international governing bodies, NGOs
Objective: To preserve Inuit culture through protection of the environment
As chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference until mid-2006, Sheila Watt-Cloutier represented 155,000 Inuit people in Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Russia. Her focus has been on the argument that climate change is destroying traditional Inuit culture by causing deterioration of the Arctic environment. That’s leading to cultural breakdown, which is expressing itself in high rates of addiction, suicide and other social problems among Inuit, especially young people. In 2005, she filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging that unchecked greenhouse gas emissions are violating Inuit rights. It was the first action of its kind.
In February, she was nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Watt-Cloutier may not be widely known to the Canadian public, but that could change. Her campaign puts an immediate and human face on the threat of climate change and brings a potent emotional centre to the debate.
9. Ross McKitrick, Economist, University of Guelph
Sphere of Influence: Climate-change skeptics
Objective: To challenge conventional scientific wisdom on global warming
Ross McKitrick is best-known for his critique of climatologist Michael Mann’s famous “hockey stick” graph, which purports to show how global temperatures have spiked in recent decades, after 1,000 years of relative stability. McKitrick argues that the graph — featured prominently in UN reports and the Al Gore documentary, An Inconvenient Truth — is based on faulty data.
He says that global warming is not yet a scientific certainty. A senior fellow at the Fraser Institute think-tank, McKitrick has been widely attacked because he is not a scientist. But he is also a frequent commentator in major media and has appeared before parliamentary committees.
His book Taken By Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy and Politics of Global Warming, co-authored with mathematician Christopher Essex, was runner-up for the 2002 Donner prize in public policy writing.
10. Marlo Raynolds, Executive director, Pembina Institute
Sphere of Influence: Energy industry, provincial and federal governments, the public
Objective: To advance sustainable development policy and practices
A PhD in engineering with a 12-year history at the Pembina Institute — a leading non-profit environmental policy organization headquartered in Alberta — Marlo Raynolds has made a career of working with industry and government to support the goal of sustainable development, particularly in relation to Alberta’s energy industry. As Pembina’s executive director, he now leads the No. 1 group in Alberta for energy-industry critiques. Pembina is also a major voice in environment policy debates and public education across Canada. The Pembina Institute has a consulting arm that has worked with major companies, such as Alcan, Petro-Canada, Weyerhaeuser and Suncor Energy.
11. Andrew Weaver, Climatologist, University of Victoria
Sphere of Influence: United Nations, scientific community, B.C. government, media
Objective: To build accurate models of climate change
Andrew Weaver, the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis, maintains one of the most sophisticated climate-modelling systems on the planet, built on the NEC SX-6 supercomputer. Widely considered a world-renowned climate-change authority, he was the lead author on two recent landmark reports by the UN International Panel on Climate Change. Those reports blame global warming on fossil-fuel consumption. He’s also a popular media commentator and an influential thinker who is consulted by government.
12. Ed Stelmach, Premier of Alberta
Sphere on Influence: Alberta voters, Federal Tories
Objective: To retain control over Alberta’s oilpatch-based growth
Although he has yet to receive a mandate from voters, Ed Stelmach — successor to the legendary “King Ralph” Klein — currently occupies a unique position in the climate-change debate. Having vowed to protect Alberta’s energy industry, he’s opposed to reductions in total carbon emissions. But to block having benchmarks imposed by the federal government, he has also legislated targets for reduction of greenhouse gas production in the oil industry, on a per-barrel basis. Stelmach may be working with federal leaders, but they have to keep him onside, too. Memories of the NEP loom large in Alberta’s collective memory, and the province — the heartland of Tory support — reacts badly to anything that smacks of Ottawa trying to control its resource sector.
13. Mark Jaccard , Economist, Simon Fraser University, author
Sphere of Influence: Government, business, energy sector, economists
Objective: To promote a role for fossil fuels in climate-change strategy
An award-winning author, economist and former chair of the B.C. Utilities Commission, Mark Jaccard has become a voice for business leaders, politicians and individuals seeking middle ground in the climate-change debate. His position? Global warming is a pressing issue, but it can be addressed without the wholesale abandonment of carbon-based fuels.
In his book Fossil Fuels: The Unusual Suspect in the Quest for Clean and Enduring Energy — winner of the 2006 Donner Prize — Jaccard argues that proven technologies can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. That can create a window during which alternative energy sources can be brought on line.
14. Murray Elston, President & CEO, Canadian Nuclear Power Association
Sphere of Influence: Nuclear industry, government
Objective: To promote nuclear power as a carbon-friendly alternative
Murray Elston arrived at the Canadian Nuclear Power Association in 2004 with impeccable credentials as a lobbyist. Having spent 13 years as an Ontario MPP, including a stint as the minister of health, he’s savvy in the ways of government.
He’s also knowledgeable about the influence game, as the former president of Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies, a lobby group representing 60 drug-development firms. This experience will come in handy as he promotes the rehabilitated image of nuclear power as an emissions-free alternative in generating electricity. He already has one powerful ally in federal Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn, who, in a recent speech to the Economic Club in Toronto, described nuclear power as “a key source of energy in Canada.” Murray was also a key supporter of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s bid to become leader of the provincial Liberals in 1996, and thus has good relations with a major client.
15. Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada
Sphere of Influence: Canadian voters
Objective: Build credibility with voters, win a seat in Parliament
At a different time, this space might have belonged to NDP leader Jack Layton. But Elizabeth May has almost eclipsed the head of Canada’s traditional green party in recent polls. That suggests voters may be prepared to give her a real chance. Her second-place finish during last fall’s federal by-election in the Ontario riding of London North Centre further supports this notion. But politics is a fickle game.
Even with her credentials as the former executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada and member of the board of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, May is bound to become a regular target for other political parties. Politicians of every stripe are clamouring for the eco-voter, and they’ll be trying hard to chip away at her base of support. May needs to prove herself, and the real test is yet to come.
16. Rick George, CEO, Suncor Energy Inc.
Sphere of Influence: Oilsands executives, consumers
Objective: To reduce greenhouse emissions in energy production
Suncor is a major emitter of greenhouse gases, due to its production facilities in the Athabasca oilsands near Fort McMurray. But Rick George, a Colorado-born engineer and former head of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives — and co-chair of its new climate-change task force — is making pioneering efforts to diversify his company into green alternatives. Suncor, for example, runs three wind-power projects, which offset a total of 200,000 tonnes a year in carbon dioxide emissions.
The company has also been selling ethanol-blended gasoline since 1996, and last year opened Canada’s largest ethanol plant, near Sarnia, Ont. Meanwhile, George is making Suncor a technological leader in the effort to reduce emissions from oilsands projects. On a per-unit basis, his company’s emissions have dropped 32% since 1990. True, Suncor’s net carbon production is rising due to expanded production. But George has vowed to find further reductions by investing in research into new technologies, including carbon capture.
17. Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia
Sphere of Influence: B.C. voters, leaders at the provincial and federal levels
Objective: To keep winning elections
Liberal premier Gordon Campbell set a benchmark for Canadian politicians in February with an aggressive environmental program unveiled in his government’s Throne Speech. Among the highlights were a commitment to a 33% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and the creation of a “climate action team” to identify “aggressive and economically viable” anti-pollution targets, including making the provincial government carbon-neutral by 2010.
He also announced a $25-million fund to encourage the commercialization of alternative energy technologies. Campbell’s program won kudos from influential citizens, including University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver and eco-crusader David Suzuki. But it will be interesting to see how the promises play out. The government’s budget, released a week later, contained little to support the objectives laid out in the Throne Speech. Maybe next year?
18. Ken Field, Chairman and majority owner, GreenField Ethanol
Sphere of Influence: Entrepreneurs, small business
Objective: To profit from growing sales of ethanol
GreenField Ethanol (formerly Commercial Alcohols) has become Canada’s biggest producer of ethanol, and Ken Field has become a model for entrepreneurs looking to make investments in the green economy.
He started from scratch in 1989, founding his company as a tax shelter that made alcohol from artichokes. GreenField now has a diversified product line and manufacturing facilities in Chatham and Tiverton, both in Ontario. Three more plants are in the works to serve growing demand for ethanol as a gasoline additive. Field is also a member of the new Canadian Council of Chief Executives task force on climate change, which seeks to “develop comprehensive and realistic plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
19. Bob Page, Professor of Environmental Management, University of Calgary
Sphere of Influence: Academics, governments, business and industry
Objective:To promote sustainable development in industry
Formerly the VP of Sustainable Development at TransAlta, Bob Page is a pioneer among Canadian executives in the field of emissions trading. During his tenure at TransAlta, a power wholesaler, it completed Canada’s first trans-Atlantic carbon trade, foreshadowing a practice that may soon be available in Canada with the creation of the Montreal Climate Exchange.
Carbon trading may not figure highly right now in Canada’s green policies, but Page’s impact runs deeper than that. At TransAlta, he launched other initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2002, for example, TransAlta bought Vision Quest Windelectric, the largest wind-power producer in Canada. (All told, the company has made the Dow Jones Sustainability Index seven years in a row.) Now the TransAlta Professor of Environment Management at the University of Calgary, Page has a long list of additional credentials, including memberships, past and present, on boards and panels, including the Canada Water Network and the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy.
20. Terence Corcoran, Editor, Financial Post
Sphere of Influence: Skeptics, public opinion
Objective: To challenge conventional wisdom on climate change
OK, we know he’s one of our guys. But no other journalist in Canada has made the climate-change issue as much of a campaign as Corcoran has on the comment pages of the Financial Post. Corcoran is a skeptic, and makes no apologies for his opinions. He’s turned his pages into a gathering place for doubters, contrarians and people who oppose heavy-headed government intervention in the economy — especially when it’s motivated by what they call “junk science.” Corcoran may not be the most well-liked writer around, especially among commentators with different politics, but there’s no denying his influence. When the Drudge Report linked to his section’s online “Deniers” series last month, the flood of traffic to the site crashed the servers at the National Post.