Mayor Jyoti Gondek is travelling south of the border this week for one of the world’s biggest oil and gas events.
The World Petroleum Congress runs until Thursday in Houston, Texas, bringing together corporate energy executives and political leaders from around the world. Calgary is next up to host the conference in 2023 with the theme “the path to net zero.”
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This year, the conference is also focused on future technologies and low-carbon strategies. Gondek said Monday that she’ll have plenty to discuss with leaders of cities that have also declared a climate emergency; Calgary joined their ranks just a few weeks ago.
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At the event Monday, leaders at some of the biggest U.S. oil companies said oil will continue to be needed for decades to come, even amid a clean-energy transition. World fossil fuel demand has rebounded sharply in 2021, with natural gas already at pre-pandemic levels and oil nearing levels reached in 2019.
“The fact remains, under most credible scenarios, including net zero pathways, oil and natural gas will continue to play a significant role in meeting society’s need,” Exxon CEO Darren Woods said at the conference.
Gondek told reporters shortly before heading to the Calgary airport that reaching net-zero by 2050 is still a major discussion point.
“I believe that the energy sector as well as governments are very aware that there’s still a lot of work to do,” she said.
“I don’t think it’s ever the wrong moment to be talking about the things that we need to do moving forward, and I think we’re all very realistic about the type of change that’s needed,” she said.
“We understand the amount of investment that’s going to be needed to make that change happen, and that’s the kind of capital that I want to be talking about and attracting to our city.”
Coun. Peter Demong said the event is also a good opportunity to promote Calgary and pursue technology and clean-energy investment — another piece of what the climate emergency declaration is meant to accomplish.
“It’s prudent to actually be at these functions as much as possible to just wave the Calgary flag wherever we can.”
Energy ministers from several top oil-producing countries, including Saudi Arabia, are no longer attending the Houston conference this week due to “travel restrictions and concerns” related to the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Gondek said she’s continuing to take precautions while travelling, and she’s also been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The mayor added that she’ll be sending a message she’s been repeating since this year’s municipal election campaign: Calgary is “a centre of excellence in energy transition.”
“That’s the message that needs to get out to not only the rest of Canada, but the rest of the world,” she said.
Gondek’s trip comes on the heels of a meeting with federal environment and climate change minister Steven Guilbeault when he visited Calgary last week.
“I indicated to him that there is a willingness to work together with the federal government as long as there’s an understanding that the targets we are setting are realistic and it’s something that we jointly understand can be achieved,” she said.
— With files from Reuters
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