In mid-summer 2007, I took on the role of President & CEO of what was then known as the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute (CPPI) – and what is today the Canadian Fuels Association. I was new to the industry, having come from the aerospace sector, where I had been President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada. In fact, prior to CPPI, I had spent my whole career in the aerospace and aviation worlds.
Needless to say, I was on a steep learning curve the first few months, but I quickly learned to appreciate the immense value of the transportation fuels sector, and the vast, complex and impressive national system of people and physical assets that produced, distributed and marketed gasoline, diesel, jet and marine fuels and home heating oil, as well as broad array of other products like asphalt, specialty lubricants and vital feedstocks for the chemical industry. A system dedicated to ensuring a reliable supply of high quality, safe, cost-competitive fuels and other essential products, wherever and whenever Canadians needed them. A system that truly kept Canada on the move 24/7, 365 days of the year!
While there were significant differences between the two industries, there were also important similarities. Both were populated by a wealth of smart, talented and dedicated people. Their respective depths of experience and expertise were truly impressive. Both drew from a long history of innovation in products and processes directed at continuous improvement. And both were deeply committed to safety and continuously improving their environmental performance.
Now 13 years later, the fuels sector continues to meet 95% of Canadians’ transportation energy needs – 42% of the total energy consumed by Canadians! It continues to be a safety record leader in Canada’s manufacturing industry. And CFA members’ drive for ever better environmental performance continues unabated. Year-over-year sector performance has improved on virtually every key environmental metric – delivering cleaner operations and cleaner products for Canadians. CFA members’ impressive accomplishments are underpinned by a strong commitment to investment in environmental performance and a collaborative approach to working with regulators to ‘get policy right’, so that desired outcomes are achieved without compromising Canadians’ access to the essential transportation fuels or diminishing sector competitiveness in an increasingly global fuels market.
The focus of this commitment is now squarely on accelerating efforts to reduce GHG emissions – building on what has already been accomplished, and in the context of Canada’s long-term net-zero aspirations. Reducing transportation emissions – 25% of total Canadian GHG emissions today – is the target of this effort.
CFA members understand that achieving Canada’s emissions-reduction aspirations will require a profound change – nothing short of a transformation in our transportation energy system. They have met Canadians’ evolving transportation fuel needs and expectations for more than a century, and are now pursuing opportunities to develop new technologies and processes, and to adapt the existing fuel-production and distribution infrastructure for a low emissions Canada, while contributing to a strong, resilient economy.
They see an important and continuing role for themselves in:
- Reducing GHG emissions at the lowest possible cost to society – because we need to balance our emissions reductions with maintaining a healthy economy.
- Leveraging and adapting existing infrastructure and expertise – to enable us to respond faster and with greater agility.
- Enhancing domestic energy security – so that Canada can act independently and harness our domestic capability.
They see a future where Canadians achieve significant transportation GHG emission reductions without compromising the ability to move people and goods. They see a future where Canada is a leader in the development of clean transportation energy choices. A future where those choices include reliable, affordable low-carbon liquid fuels.
This future will require a policy environment that is stable, predictable and science-based. Unnecessary regulatory hurdles need to be removed. Policy instruments must respect technology-neutral solutions. Public policy has to create the conditions essential to private sector investment – investment that can help truly accelerate change. In all this, governments and stakeholders need to remain focused on reducing emissions, not ‘demonizing’ carbon – this paradigm allows for a multitude of solutions and reflects the range of options that Canada will need to deploy to achieve its climate change goals.
As I pass the torch to my successor, Bob Larocque, I leave with the confidence that the fuels sector has a strong vision for the future and is ready for the challenges ahead, and that the CFA is in capable hands. I’ll be cheering from the sidelines of retirement, and watching with interest the transformation to come.
It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work with and for the dedicated people who keep Canada on the move!