Author: Merran Smith

Merran Smith is the executive director of Clean Energy Canada and a fellow at the Simon Fraser University Centre for Dialogue. For decades, she has worked to unite industry, government and civil society organizations to solve pressing social and ecological challenges. Her leadership in the landmark Great Bear Rainforest conservation agreement helped ensure the protection of thousands of kilometres of British Columbia’s coastal ecosystem. She is the founder of Clean Energy Canada, the nation’s leading climate and energy think tank on clean energy solutions. Merran is currently one of Canada’s representatives on the International Clean Energy Ambassador Corps, and served on B.C.’s Climate Leadership Team in 2015. She is also is a 2016 recipient of the Vancouver Board of Trade ‘Wendy McDonald Award’ for community leadership, and a 2014 recipient of the Clean 16 Award for Leadership in Clean Capitalism.

Merran Smith's Recent Articles:

Share: Last December, most premiers and the prime minister adopted a landmark national climate plan to cut carbon pollution and spur clean growth. For Canada’s clean energy sector, a national climate plan is incredibly welcome. It signals to developers and investors that Canada is an important market for climate solutions, and that the demand for…

Share: It’s early morning, 2067. You tap your phone to silence the buzzing alarm, which activates your home’s automated ‘wake up’ setting. A soft glow fills your room as a network of LEDs reaches just the right level of brightness. You roll out of bed, stepping onto floors warmed by a system that draws in…

Share: A decade ago, there were only a couple thousand electric vehicles on the road worldwide. Last year, they cruised past a million—and kept going. But that’s nothing compared with what’s to come. China, for one, plans to add as many EVs next year as exist in the entire world today. And considering that transportation…

Share: Recent Canadian headlines reveal a country trying to figure out how to spur clean economic growth in a way that includes and empowers the people, communities and sectors that built Canada into the strong nation it is today. Pipelines, LNG plants, ocean protection and the link between carbon pricing and competitiveness are all flashpoints…

Share: Dear Prime Minister and Premiers: Building a high performance, low carbon economy is a major economic opportunity and a vital environmental responsibility for Canada. As a diverse group of leaders from different sectors and regions across the country, we applaud your initiative in developing the Pan-Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change. And…

Share: The Honourable Catherine McKenna Minister of Environment and Climate Change The Honourable Jim Carr Minister of Natural Resources The Honourable Marc Garneau Minister of Transport The Honourable Navdeep Bains Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Dear Ministers, We the undersigned support a national Clean…

Share: Fall economic statement includes significant support for green infrastructure to accelerate Canada’s transition to clean power OTTAWA—Merran Smith, executive director at Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the federal government’s Fall Economic Statement released today: QUOTES “The federal government is taking a smart and forward-thinking approach, investing in the infrastructure…

Share: When it comes to taking a pan-Canadian approach to climate action, a Chinese proverb says it all: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” The math is clear. Canada’s efforts to date—led predominantly by several provinces and laudable on many levels—won’t add up to…

Share: OTTAWA—Merran Smith, executive director at Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the federal government’s announcement that it will establish a minimum price on carbon across Canada in 2018: “A price on carbon pollution across Canada is a huge step forward and an essential component of a credible climate plan. It’s…

Share: Survey shows majority support for an effective climate plan and minimum carbon price, even if some provinces disagree OTTAWA — New public opinion research shows that two-thirds of Canadians believe it is more important to have a plan to meet Canada’s climate change targets than to have all provincial and territorial premiers agree with…

Share: VANCOUVER — Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the federal government’s approval of the proposed Pacific Northwest liquified natural gas (LNG) project: “Approving this project is inconsistent with the federal government’s commitments to lead on climate change and clean innovation. “The conditions that come with…

Electrification in Canada - graphic

Share: ‘We are at a crossroads between reliance on fossil fuels of the past and the renewable energy future ahead.” It was a remarkable statement from the minister responsible for energy in Canada. Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr sent a clear signal about the opportunity clean energy represents in his keynote address at the Future…

Graphic from the B.C. Climate Leadership Plan

Share: VANCOUVER—Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada and a member of the Government of British Columbia’s Climate Leadership Team, made the following comments in response to the release of the B.C. climate plan:  “A climate leadership plan should do two basic things: cut carbon pollution, and help British Columbians prosper from the shift…

Share: In the introduction to the Government of British Columbia’s new climate plan, Premier Christy Clark declares: “Our province is committed to being at the forefront of this fight and continuing to demonstrate climate action leadership.” Unfortunately, the Premier’s leadership will be measured by credible action and results—two things that are noticeably absent in this…

Share: The leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada are expected to walk away from their meetings this week with new continental commitments to tackle climate change and boost clean energy generation. It’s a logical and smart move: all three have made climate action a priority at home and abroad, and in light of…

Share: Every day, the drumbeat of countries taking action on climate change gets louder. In the past two weeks alone, Norway, a major oil producer, said it wants to see no gas-powered vehicles sold in the country by 2025; Alberta passed ground-breaking legislation to cut carbon emissions and boost clean energy generation; and Ontario launched…

Share: British Columbia faces a crossroads: either we take new action to cut carbon pollution and restore B.C.’s legacy as a climate leader, or we fail to meet our commitments and forfeit our hard-won reputation for leadership. The province’s carbon pollution is rising, and new action is required for B.C. to get back on track….

Share: Outside our borders, Canada is perhaps best known for its spectacular wilderness: its lakes, rivers, mountains and coastlines draw visitors from all over the globe. Canada’s new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, pointed to that same “rugged, natural beauty” when he campaigned on making environmental and clean energy leadership a priority. And with his new…

Share: Bad news dominated energy headlines in 2015: Plunging oil prices. Oil and gas companies scaling back investment. Business and government books sliding from black deep into the red. Layoffs. Albertans are all too familiar with this story. But there was a bright spot in global energy markets last year: clean energy. And it’s a…

Share: In energy markets, a few years is a lifetime. Fast fluctuations in supply or demand, along with myriad other factors, can send oil and gas prices skyrocketing or into the cellar. And the results — as B.C’s liquefied-natural-gas watchers can attest — can be dramatic. In January, Shell delayed a decision on whether to…

Share: VANCOUVER—Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the clean energy commitments from President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau in Washington, D.C., today: “By shifting the discussion from pipelines to power lines, the leaders made some progress today—but we still have a ways to go before our…

Share: Bad news dominated energy headlines in 2015: Plunging oil prices. Oil and gas companies scaling back investment. Coal companies going bankrupt. Layoffs. If it bleeds, it leads. Turmoil in fossil fuel markets led many analysts to suggest that clean energy investment would similarly stall out. How could renewable energy possibly compete with cheap oil,…

Share: VANCOUVER—Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the conclusion of the First Ministers’ Meeting in Vancouver today:  “Today’s agreement promises to deliver a Canadian first: a truly national plan to hit a climate target. That’s an incredibly important commitment. “A strong climate plan is also an…

Share: In energy markets, a few years is a lifetime. Fast fluctuations in supply or demand—among myriad other factors—can send oil and gas prices skyrocketing, or into the cellar. And the results can be dramatic: consider Shell, which just delayed indefinitely a decision on whether to pursue its LNG Canada joint venture project. Of the…

Share: New efforts by Canada, U.S. and Mexico to collaborate could accelerate clean energy transition VANCOUVER — Merran Smith, executive director at Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Climate Change and Energy Collaboration signed today by Canada, Mexico and the United States: “‘Clean XL’—transmission lines,…

Share: VANCOUVER — Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement on the conclusion of a meeting of federal and provincial environment ministers in Ottawa today: “Canada can reduce carbon pollution by transforming how we produce and use energy, and create big opportunities for new investment and new jobs in the…

Share: Mark Carney took the stage midway through the recent international climate-change conference in Paris, and his presence turned a few heads. When the floor was opened to questions, someone asked him, “Why is a leader of a central bank here?” The governor of the Bank of England didn’t miss a beat. This new-found attention…

Share: VANCOUVER — Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement on the release of the proposed final text of the Paris Agreement at COP21: “We applaud all national leaders and delegates who worked hard over the past two weeks to raise the bar for global climate action. The final text…

Share: As the two-week marathon of climate talks wraps up today in Paris, the release of the final agreement text is already generating the predictable round of mixed reactions. But regardless of what has or has not been accomplished at COP21, there’s reason to be optimistic. That’s because solving climate change has a lot to…

Share: The world is gathering in Paris, France, for another round of negotiations that aim to produce a global agreement to ramp up the fight against climate change. While there have been many rounds of talks before this, there are three main reasons the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) is seen as a significant milestone…

Share: VANCOUVER—Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued ministerial mandate letters to his Cabinet, providing direction on the approach his government will take and issuing clear expectations for each minister. The letters to all ministers made clear that climate change is a key challenge the government will tackle. Notably, progress on climate action, clean energy innovation…

Share: VANCOUVER — Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement on the swearing-in of the new prime minister and federal cabinet ministers:   “We congratulate Canada’s new prime minister and federal cabinet ministers, and we applaud the federal government’s commitment to take a new approach on climate change and clean energy….

Share: MEDIA STATEMENT: October 20, 2015 VANCOUVER — Merran Smith, Executive Director of Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the outcome of the federal election: “Canadians have voted for change, and that’s good news for Canada’s clean energy sector and all Canadians who expect climate leadership and clean energy solutions. “Canadians…

Share:   Back in 2007 and 2008, British Columbia introduced a slate of climate policies that today remain the envy of the world. The list included a revenue neutral carbon tax, a ban on unfettered coal power, and a clean electricity standard that today ensures the electricity grid will remain 93 percent clean or renewable….

Share: I’m delighted to share that renowned climate and clean energy policy expert Zoë Caron has joined our team as a senior policy advisor focusing on Alberta. For the past six years, Caron has worked with WWF in a variety of capacities in Canada and Scandinavia. She’s advocated for domestic and global climate leadership and for…

Share: Blazing fire and choking smoke. Water bans, and lettuce-wilting heat. That’s how British Columbians are going to remember the summer of 2015. But there is also some encouraging news, and you can be a part of it. Earlier this year, British Columbia’s government announced it is ready to get serious about climate action again….

Share: You can almost set your watch to it: Every time a new and disruptive technology begins to take hold, the backlash follows. So it is with “The Darker Side of Solar Power“–an article that appeared last week in The Globe and Mail. Writer Konrad Yakabuski argues that solar carries hidden costs that muddy the technology’s…

Share: I don’t want to brag or anything, but I paid my carbon tax the other day. I’d just tanked up my vehicle — I don’t yet have an electric car — with 30-odd litres of regular unleaded, near my home here in Vancouver, B.C. The tab included an extra $0.60, a modest premium that…

Share: For years, the story of energy in Canada has been the story of fossil fuels — so much so that in this country, at least, the terms are typically used interchangeably. Last week my team flipped that story on its head when we released Tracking the Energy Revolution — the first annual assessment of Canada’s clean-energy…

We’re catching our first hints of whether or not British Columbia’s liquefied natural gas companies intend to make good on the province’s promise to produce “the cleanest LNG in the world.” There are plenty of good reasons for the emerging sector to do so beyond reducing its climate impact, including, notably, producing hundreds more jobs.

The short answer is: No. To secure social license from a wary public and give businesses the certainty they badly need, Alberta will need to continue increasing its carbon price over time–and that commitment needs to be made now.

We must diversify our energy sector to insulate our economies from commodity price shocks, carbon risk, and decreasing demand in key markets such as the United States and, eventually, China.

If a collection of states can link up with one province with a bold plan to address carbon pricing, electric vehicles, high-efficiency buildings, and more, why can’t the Council of Federation follow suit?

2013 should not be remembered for its failures, but as the year that individual companies, cities, communities, and provinces and states stepped up to the plate and met the biggest challenge and opportunity of our age head-on.

Kudos to Dalton McGuinty and Alison Redford for mending fences. The leaders of what are respectively Canada’s most populous and resource-rich provinces both now agree that a Canadian energy strategy is a good idea for the country.

A Canadian energy strategy has the potential to do far more than simply help us secure new markets for our petroleum resources. It could unleash the necessary transformation of our economy.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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