The international drivers for environmental research and technology development are at an all-time high. The 2020 World Economic Forum’s annual Risk Report is for the first time dominated by environmental factors. At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2015 (COP 21) in Paris, the International community committed to combatting climate change and accelerating the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. Institutional investors around the globe are urging governments to do more. Each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is associated with between one and twelve environmental indicators. These cut across disciplines, sectors and institutional mandates, acknowledging the integrated nature of the many challenges facing humanity. To accelerate progress and create a common vision for Canada’s path forward against the SDGs, the Government of Canada is leading the development of a 2030 Agenda National Strategy.
Enabling a more sustainable economy
Canada has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, increasing the value of clean technology exports by 2025 and 100% penetration of zero-emissions light-duty vehicles by 2040. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has a critical role to play in advancing Canada’s efforts in climate change, environmental sustainability, and clean technologies. NRC’s R&D is focused on finding alternative low-carbon sources of energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and new technologies and approaches for a more sustainable economy – from transportation and manufacturing, to natural resources and construction, and other end-use areas. One of its programmes is doing just that…
Innovations in clean fuels
The economy needs fuel to function, and we need clean technology to meet climate change targets. NRC’s programme on Materials for Clean Fuels will take clean electricity, water, and carbon dioxide and make renewable fuels. This seven-year $57 million programme will create a cleaner, more sustainable Canadian energy and chemical industry through materials innovation. The NRC is coordinating a Canadian and international effort to collaborate with leaders in academia and industry to catalyse the discovery and development of materials for early-stage exploratory technologies to decarbonise the oil and gas and petrochemical sectors.
The Materials for Clean Fuels Challenge programme focuses on 3 areas: (1) using renewable energy to convert CO2 captured from point sources into valuable fuels and chemical feedstocks; (2) reducing the cost to make, use, move, and store emissions-free hydrogen; and (3) AI -accelerated materials discovery. Over the next 7 years, we will develop new materials for zero-emission transportation fuels and chemical feedstocks, from discovery to commercialisation. Through collaboration, we will bring disruptive solutions to the design, development and delivery of clean fuels and chemicals in Canada.