The road to net zero is paved with good intentions

Posted on November 01, 2022 | By Alec Bruce | 0 Comments

How far those intentions will take us remains to be seen



Mark Sidebottom sits in his small office at Nova Scotia Power talking about big pictures. It’s September, and he’s only been the utility’s chief clean energy officer for three months, but there’s an urgency in his voice—as if a ship is about to sail. “In Nova Scotia we’re going to be replacing half our power generating fleet in less than 10 years, and it took 50 years to build,” he says. “There’s a lot to do.”

Earlier this year, the federal government passed the Canadian Net-Zero Accountability Act, which enshrines its commitment to achieving this monumental task by 2050. Not just that: the Act also requires national greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets for 2035, 2040, and 2045—each necessitating a credible, science-based plan to achieve it. And that falls on the provinces.

Sidebottom is no neophyte on energy matters. Prior to assuming his new responsibilities—which NS Power mandates are “to reduce carbon emissions while integrating new technologies, innovations, and greener solutions” to tackle climate change—he was the company’s chief operating officer for six-and-a-half years. Before that, he was its vice-president of power generation and delivery. He knows what his peers in other provinces are thinking. And like them, he knows about deadlines. Given the ambitious national goal, he says, the stakes are higher than ever.

“For quite a number of years, governments and utilities have been working closely on how to decarbonize Atlantic Canada. That’s been a journey of understanding.” Now, he says, the question is acute: “What does it really take to remove the carbon footprint?”

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