University of Toronto President Meric Gertler delivers opening remarks to 300+ guests at the Climate Economy Summit

On November 24, 2022, Climate Positive Energy held its inaugural business conference, the Climate Economy Summit. Along with our co-hosts Toronto Region Board of Trade, we were delighted to welcome more than 300 guests and thought leaders from across Ontario to hear from 45 expert speakers – including Ontario Minister of Energy Todd Smith, U of T President Meric Gertler, and Toronto Region Board of Trade President and CEO Jan De Silva.

The Climate Positive Energy initiative at University of Toronto is developing solutions to transform our energy systems, and to help Canada become a global clean-energy model in achieving net-zero by 2050. Key to this is building partnerships and facilitating collaborative research with local and global companies, across all industries.

“Toronto has what it takes to be a global leader in the climate economy,” said Toronto Region Board of Trade’s Jan Da Silva during remarks. “And industry must be at the table – a table set up to advance projects that will close the clean tech adoption gap.”

“U of T and its partners are collaborating to move the needle quickly,” added President Gertler. He emphasized the call for collaboration during his remarks, noting that partnerships between the public and private sectors are crucial in helping the Toronto region capitalize on its strong cluster of clean energy companies.

Climate Positive Energy Acadamic Lead David Sinton, along with members Shoshanna Saxe and Ali Hooshyar, also emphasized the importance of collaboration in accelerating activity towards net-zero during breakout sessions and remarks.

Professor Sinton moderated a discussion between Tony Valeri of ArcelorMittal Dofasco and Katherine Arblaster of Uranium Energy Corp, who discussed the “greening” of heavy industries like steel, cement, and chemical manufacturing, which face unique challenges on their pathway to decarbonization. Valeri emphasized the importance of the next generation in tackling the climate challenge – for example, highly skilled individuals such as CPE researchers, who are dedicating their careers to stepping in with great solutions to the climate change problem.

Hooshyar is leading a proposed $20-million grid modernization testing and simulation centre. The proposed centre would be the first of its kind in Canada, convening stakeholders in the electricity sector to accelerate the integration of renewable energy solutions, energy storage and electric vehicle charging infrastructure into the grid.

Saxe, for her part, told a panel that the goal of retrofitting buildings toward net-zero emissions is well within reach – but that the greatest impediment North America faces is a “deficit of imagination” about how to develop infrastructure for a sustainable society. “Our emission goals are totally achievable. We just have to be willing to achieve them,” said Saxe. “The tools are waiting there for us to grab them.”

One of these tools available for both U of T researchers as well as industry partners is the Climate Positive Energy initiative itself, which hosts a suite of programs year-round like workshops, hackathons and funding opportunities that support knowledge translation to support a just energy transition, and real-world technology like carbon capture solutions.

“The Climate Economy Summit was an important first step to launch the Climate Positive Energy brand to industry, government and SMEs,” said Shatha Qaqish-Clavering, Director of Strategy and Operations for CPE. “It highlighted the depth and breadth of our expertise and the exciting initiatives that our researchers are working on. I have no doubt that this conference will bring myriad of collaborations.”

In closing remarks, ‎Giles Gherson, EVP and Chair, Economic Blueprint Institute, Toronto Region Board of Trade, highlighted two important words that encapsulated the day: “opportunity” and “partnership.”

Thank you to our co-host Toronto Board of Trade, the 45+ industry experts who sparked meaningful discussions, and to all of the guests who joined us at our private Pre-Summit Reception as well as the Summit itself. We look forward to future events and discussions advancing clean energy research at the University, and across Canada.