No 190 Posted by fw, June 10, 2011
About the Equinox Summit: Energy 2030
During the week of June 5-9, the Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WSGI), based in Waterloo, Ontario, has hosted Canada’s premier energy conference — the Equinox Summit: Energy 2030. WSGI is a non-profit partnership between the Perimeter Institute and the University of Waterloo. The Summit brings together leading scientists, future leaders, and experienced advisors to share their insights in a spirit of open collaboration.
Their task is to envision a low carbon, electrified future coupled with a growing need to expand the capacity, increase the resilience and security, and improve the efficiency of our energy systems. Recommendations will be shared at the end of the Summit.
General audiences and additional media have had access to the daily public events via streaming video and attendance at selected public lectures. Video recordings of presentations will be accessible on the website after the Summit concludes.
Information from this first Waterloo Global Science Initiative event will be captured for a future Equinox Blueprint. A preview of the findings in the form of an Equinox Communiqué was released on June 9, 2011 and is presented below.
A glaring omission from the Communiqué?
But first, I offer this personal observation: Based on a skimming of the Communiqué, there appears to be no provision for public input in future planning. Why this glaring omission? Do Summit organizers consider that we ordinary citizens have no meaningful role to play in the energy planning process? Are we, the disempowered, expected to simply stand aside and leave it to “the experts” to solve our energy problems? Having heard numerous speakers at this Summit wonder aloud why citizens have not been more actively engaged in the energy and climate change debate, I’m surprised the answer is not obvious to them – events such as this Summit, as well the actions of leading Canadian NGO environmental organizations, reduce citizens to passive observers. Rarely do they, the NGOs, invest any time, energy or money in effective hands-on, face-to-face interactive training and education programs that would help ordinary citizens to become more knowledgeable and skilled change agents in their communities. (For one brilliant exception to this generalization about NGOs, see RELATED READING below).
Energy is humanity’s largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and our appetite for electricity is growing faster than for any other form of energy. Transforming the ways we generate, distribute and store electricity is among the most pressing challenges facing society today.
Over the next four decades, global energy demand is expected to almost double from 16.5 terawatts to 30 terawatts. If we want to stabilize CO2 levels in our atmosphere at 550 parts per million (sic — probably a typo — should be 350ppm), all of that growth needs to be met by non-carbon forms of energy.
Reducing the amount of fossil fuel we burn to generate electricity would make a substantial contribution to the goal of addressing climate change. In the wider context of peak oil and the rapidly growing global population, there is an urgent need for action.
The Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI) was established to help bring science to bear on the most difficult problems facing our world. Over the past week, 36 scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and future leaders from around the world came together to explore how science and technology might serve as a catalyst for the urgent change that is needed.
Vision for 2030
This Communiqué identifies a group of technological approaches and implementation steps that have the potential over coming decades to accelerate the transition of our energy systems toward electrification and in the longer term toward an energy future where our dependence on fossil fuels is greatly reduced.
Given the right support, the six priority actions identified below can catalyze change on a global scale, from the cities of the developed world, to the billions of people who live in towns and villages that lack adequate access to electricity.
Replacing coal for baseload power
Many of the world’s towns, cities and industries rely on a consistent supply of “baseload” power, most of which is currently generated through the burning of fossil fuels. Among a range of options, the Summit has identified three alternative means of providing that power that have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Renewables enabled by storage
Advanced nuclear power to close the fuel cycle
Urban electric mobility
Making cities energy-smart
Rural electrification with flexible solar cells
The ideas outlined in this Communiqué will form the basis of a detailed document that will be produced in coming months – the Equinox Blueprint: Energy 2030.
Equinox Blueprint: Energy 2030 will paint a picture of the challenges faced by society in energy, detail forecasts from various global and national agencies for the likely state of affairs in 2030, and list the Equinox Summit’s recommendations and proposals to address these.
Equinox Blueprint: Energy 2030 will be aimed at informing, advising and inspiring science and technology influencers, government and industry leaders globally. It will focus on how science and technology can contribute to the challenges faced. It will offer practical, real-world solutions – based on the latest scientific thinking – and offer recommendations for investment and focus, and for the coordination of national and international scientific and engineering efforts which may, over the next 20 years, help address energy challenges in a meaningful way.
The mission of the Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI) is not just to create and host each Equinox Summit, but to also share its recommendations and advance them in various forums, public and private. Consequently, a year-long campaign will highlight the results of Equinox Summit: Energy 2030 and seek to inform political, business and opinion leaders in its ideas and proposals.
This will include presentations at policy, scientific and public events in various countries, as well as webcasts, television packages and articles in the global media.
Among the meetings already slated for presentation of the Equinox Summit are the Canadian Science Writers Association annual meeting and the World Conference of Science Journalists in Doha in June 2011.
Under consideration is the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver in February 2012, the Science and Technology in Society Forum in Kyoto in October 2011, the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi and World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2012, and the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in May 2012.