Stuart McLaren, Global Director of Net Zero Infrastructure at SNC Lavalin began his April 26 presentation at CityAge Toronto by laying out the challenge: Canada needs to increase its power generation three fold while driving carbon emissions down to net zero by 2050, with the population expected to hit 45 to 50 million by the same year.
Are we ready?
McLaren says no, not right now.
But we can get ready. To do it, we need to approach cities with “systems thinking”.
Cities are made up of systems that are interconnected (think transit systems, energy systems, the built environment, health care, telecommunications etc). The systems that make up a city have lots of tangible and intangible resources that will help us meet the 2050 challenge. They have human capital, finance and funding, ideas and innovation, water, food, biodiversity, technology, and diversity of thought.
Cities that have a robust plan to weave their resources together into one cohesive and costed out approach will deliver on their climate goals. Making plans is easy, McLaren told the CityAge Toronto audience, but delivery is hard.
Cities will also need to innovate to fill in gaps in their resources. City leaders must identify their gaps and invest capital into those areas to close what McLaren calls the “innovation gap”.
The scale of the challenge we’re facing is enormous. But the resources that exist in cities, and our ability to leverage and expand them through innovation, can deliver us a net zero future. But leadership is key. “Strong and sustained leadership that maximizes and integrates the resources available to cities” will be critical.
Get the full scoop on how SNC Lavalin is Future Proofing Cities here