Jim Fonger, VP Asset& Advanced Technology Development, Ameresco

jfonger@ameresco.com

If, like me, you are of a certain age then you watched the Jetsons as a kid. Believe it or not that little cartoon successfully predicted the advent of video calls, robot vacuums, smart watches, drones, holograms, tablets, and flat screen TVs. But the thing everybody really wanted was the flying car.  I really like my electric vehicle and it looks like a Jetson car, but it does not fly.  I bought my EV and made other changes to my lifestyle because I am greatly concerned about one thing the Jetsons did not predict: climate change.

At last count 1,935 jurisdictions in 34 countries have declared a climate emergency, according to the Climate Emergency Declaration. This reflects the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning that we have only 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees. Beyond this would significantly worsen the risk to hundreds of millions of people of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty. Warming at twice the global average, Canada is certainly not immune. While declarations are an important first step, they risk becoming greenwashing if they are not followed up by concrete actions. Every effort must be made to reduce emissions and increase removals of atmospheric carbon to end the deadly cycle of damage that the current climate is delivering. Fortunately, climate change is both a threat and an opportunity for local distribution companies (LDCs).

LDCs are in a prime position to become important players in the transition to a low-carbon economy.  Electrification, digitization and increased connectivity will be enablers of this transition—providing plenty of opportunity for LDCs to partner with private sector partners to offer new services. The battle against climate change can be our moonshot. Innovation and experimentation will bring new inventions now just like they did in the 1960s. And I might get my autonomous flying car.