The Road to Net Zero: The Case for Electrifying Canada 

The Road to Net Zero: The Case For Electrifying Canada

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Moderator: Debbie Scharf, Assistant Deputy Minister, Natural Resources Canada

Speakers: Francis Bradley, President & CEO, Electricity Canada; Dr. Bruce Lourie, President, Ivey Foundation; Brendan Marshall, Principal Advisor, Rio Tinto; Susan McGeachie, Head, BMO Climate Institute

While there’s no silver bullet solution to achieving Canada’s net-zero ambitions, widespread electrification will be the backbone of the future clean energy economy. Electricity is an affordable and reliable way to decarbonize large parts of our economy, including high-emitting sectors. In the face of fast-forming global low-carbon supply chains, tremendous opportunity exists to harness and grow Canada’s non-emitting electricity sector to meet new demand. Yet this pressing work is hindered by coordination challenges and networks that are not structured to drive fundamental system change. 

The Road to Net Zero: The Case for Electrifying Canada will bring together sector leaders from across the supply, demand and finance sides, as well as from civil society and government to clarify the actions needed to accelerate the buildout of the affordable, reliable, and resilient electricity system of the future. Join key partners and leaders from The Transition Accelerator for a panel discussion followed by an audience Q&A. 

ADM Debbie Scharf

Debbie Scharf, Assistant Deputy Minister, Natural Resources Canada 

Debbie Scharf is an Assistant Deputy Minister at Natural Resources Canada, responsible for the Energy Systems Sector. In her role, Debbie is responsible for spearheading one of the Government of Canada’s signature energy initiatives, the transformation of regional energy systems through the Regional Energy and Resource Tables. She also oversees the sector’s Electricity Resources Branch and the Energy Policy and International Branch, both of which are integral to the Government of Canada’s central energy initiatives to realize a net-zero future. A key element of her sector’s mandate is to help catalyze Canada’s economic opportunities in the energy transition and drive governance for the energy enterprise to provide the Deputy Minister, the Associate Deputy Minister and the Minister with integrated decision-making. The Energy Systems Sector also plays a key role in identifying and accelerating the development of regional growth opportunities that will provide Canada with an advantage as we transform to a net-zero economy.  

Prior to her current role, Debbie was the Director General of Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Fuel Branch. She assumed this role in spring 2020, on the eve of an unprecedented global pandemic, with the task of creating the embryonic branch from scratch. During the next two years, under Debbie’s team-driven leadership, the Clean Fuels Branch was integral in delivering several of the government’s central energy initiatives, the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada, the $1.5-billion Clean Fuels Fund and the implementation of $750-million Emission Reductions Fund. Previously, Debbie served as Senior Director, Strategic Energy Policy; and Director, Office of Energy Efficiency, both at Natural Resources Canada. She also held various positions at Environment and Climate Change Canada advancing chemicals management, clean air and climate change files. Debbie holds a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University, and a Master Degree in Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University. 

Francis Bradley

Francis Bradley, President & CEO, Electricity Canada 

Francis Bradley is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Electricity Canada, the National Voice of Electricity. Electricity Canada serves its electricity industry members through the work of expert professionals led by Bradley and directed by a Board of Directors made up of member CEOs.   Bradley is the co-chair of the National Cross-Sector Forum, overseeing Canada’s Action Plan for Critical Infrastructure. 

He also sits on the Steering Committee for the Electricity SubSector Coordinating Council (ESCC) and sits on the Board for the Energy Council of Canada (ECC). At the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (NERC) Member Representatives Committee and Board of Trustees’ meetings, Francis represents CEA and advocates strongly for its members in their activities related to the Electric Reliability Organization Enterprise, and its role in ensuring the reliability and security of the North American bulk power system.  He was recently named to the Positive Energy Advisory Council.  Under the auspices of the University of Ottawa, the Council undertakes research to determine how various energy interests can seek and obtain broad social support for energy policies, regulation and individual energy projects and technologies. 

Prior to being named CEO in June 2019, Bradley managed EC’s day-to-day activities as Chief Operating Officer since 2014. During that time, he also acted as a member of the National Advisory Committee of Canada’s Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction and was a co-chair with the Standards Council of Canada of the Smart Grid Standards Advisory Committee. 

Dr. Bruce Lourie

Dr. Bruce Lourie, President, Ivey Foundation   

Dr. Lourie is one of Canada’s most influential leaders and experts on climate change and the transition to a net-zero economy. Best known for his ability to rethink climate problems and develop solutions that benefit both the economy and the environment, he has been instrumental in creating more than a dozen organizations that play a critical role in Canada’s transition to a net-zero economy, including Canadian Climate Institute, the Institute for Sustainable Finance, Farmers for Climate Solutions, Efficiency Canada and The Transition Accelerator. His focus at Ivey Foundation is the Economy and Environment program, which provides funding to these net-zero focused organizations, among others. He also liaises with government, industry, ENGOs and the business community to ensure Canada achieves net-zero by 2050 while remaining economically competitive. 

An engaging and lively spokesperson, Dr. Lourie has a unique ability to translate complex issues into timely and actionable information in both print and broadcast interviews alike and has been interviewed by most major Canadian news outlets. Dr. Lourie is also an experienced and in demand speaker, and has spoken at events such as Global Salmon Initiative’s COP26 Panel, The Trottier Symposium and the 2021 Calgary Climate Symposium, where he gave the keynote address. 

In addition to his influential role in pushing Canada towards net-zero by 2050, Dr. Lourie also initiated the largest climate action in North America, the phasing out of coal in Ontario, and helped shepherd the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement and establish of the Ontario Greenbelt. He is also the co-author of two books, Toxin Toxout and Slow Death By Rubber Duck, an international bestseller. Dr. Lourie holds a Ph.D examining the intersection of risk, science and policy. 

Brendan Marshall

Brendan Marshall, Principal Advisor, Rio Tinto  

Brendan Marshall is Principal Advisor External Affairs Canada at Rio Tinto – the second-largest mining company globally and the largest diversified mining and metal manufacturing company operating in Canada.

Bringing more than 15 years of public and private sector experience to the role, Brendan leads federal government engagement providing advice to the business on government affairs, regulatory issues, and policy, including in climate change, energy, critical minerals, tax, trade and fiscal spaces. He partners closely with Rio Tinto’s product groups, communications, legal, and strategy teams to advance Rio Tinto’s key projects and growth opportunities in Canada and globally. Brendan also currently serves as a Director on the Board of the Canadian Manufactures and Exporters and is a founding member of Canada’s Battery Task Force.  

Prior to joining Rio Tinto, Brendan served as Vice President Economic Affairs and Climate Change at the Mining Association of Canada where he led the industry’s critical minerals engagement federally in support of Canada’s first Critical Minerals Strategy. Brendan also led engagement in the climate change, energy, tax, trade, infrastructure, and transportation areas in addition to the association’s work in mining policy and regulation in Canada’s North. Previously, Brendan held several federal government appointments, including with the Prime Minister of Canada, and the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.

Brendan holds two Master’s degrees in Political Philosophy and Energy Management.

Susan McGeachie

Susan McGeachie, Head, BMO Climate Institute 

Susan McGeachie is head of the BMO Climate Institute, a virtual hub to convene a strategically planned system of technical expertise, enabling policies, incentives, and investment to advance decarbonization and climate resilience for BMO’s clients and the bank. She brings to this role over 20 years of experience identifying, evaluating and managing climate change-related risks and strategic positioning opportunities. Following her years in ESG research and analytics, she held leadership positions in management and engineering consulting firms. Susan is an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto where she teaches a graduate course in climate finance, and a member of the Canadian Climate Governance Experts panel. Susan was recently named one of twenty-six Canadian Climate Champions by the Canada Climate Law Initiative and the British High Commission ahead of COP26. In 2014 she was named to the Clean50 and Clean 16 lists of practitioners, which recognize contributions to advancing sustainable capitalism. 

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