Annette Verschuren on carbon pricing, jobs and making Canada a progressive energy leader
The Ecofiscal Commission recently welcomed Annette Verschuren to its Advisory Board. We sat down for an interview with her.
- Your latest venture is NRSTor — a company that focuses on renewable-energy storage. Is it fair to say that you believe green energy has a role to play in Canada’s future?
Yes. I think clean technology and green energy has a role to play in Canada and in the world. And it is playing a big role in Canada and the world. So yes, there’s enormous economic benefits to energy storage and to cleaner energy.
- The Ecofiscal Commission is advocating measures like carbon taxes and other types of pollution pricing. As a business leader, what kind of impact do you think those measures could have on environmental performance within the business sector?
I think that carbon needs to be priced. There’s no question about that. I hate using the word tax, but I do think there has to be a price on carbon. And I think as a result of that, new industries will be created and innovation will be accelerated. So I definitely think that we need to move in that direction.
Fossil fuels will continue to be a big part of our future, and we have to make them cleaner. But you can see that the world is also looking at renewable energy and focusing on greenhouse gas reduction, and all these things will create a new economy. And I think there’s lots of opportunity there.
Being directly involved in the energy storage industry, I see lots of new jobs being created, lots of new technology, lots of new software development, lots of new ideas being translated into businesses and commercial entities. I think that’s critical.
- How receptive do you think corporate Canada is to these kinds of ecofiscal policies?
I think they are receptive. There are smart people heading up corporations in our country. They’re well read. They see what the trends are and what other countries are doing. So I am quite convinced that they are prepared to respond.
- You’re not a woman with a lot of spare time. What convinced you to join the Ecofiscal Commission Advisory board?
Well, Commission Chair Chris Ragan was totally persistent. And I’m just a big believer in “let’s get going, and let’s put the facts out there.” If we can educate people on the economic benefits and fiscal benefits of moving in this direction, I think the conversations will be a lot easier.
- What do you hope to bring to the Commission?
I’m a practical person. I hope that I can be part of the solution. There’s going to be adjustments across the board — there’s no question about that. But I think it can be done prudently if policymakers, businesses and critical contributors (First Peoples, universities, etc.) work together to address the economic and environmental challenges facing Canada and the world.
- Finally, how are you going to be measuring the success of the Commission?
It’s going to be the policies being developed in our country. It’s going to be the performance of business. Obviously the metrics of reduction of greenhouse gases are extraordinarily important, so we’ve got to see those performance measures improving in our country. And I really believe that they can. And I think there has to be more creative and collaborative ways to make that happen and make our country the country that has the most progressive energy industry in the world.
About the Author
Annette Virschuren is Chair and CEO of NRStor Inc., as well as an Advisor of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission.