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Monica Gattinger, Director, Institute for Science, Society and Policy, University of Ottawa

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The Role of Public Confidence in Energy Policy and Regulation

Published in: Environment
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Monica Gattinger, Director, Institute for Science, Society and Policy, University of Ottawa

  1. 1. 1 uOttawa.cauOttawa.ca The Role of Public Confidence in Energy Policy and Regulation: Elephants, Horses and Sitting Ducks Professor Monica Gattinger, Chair, Positive Energy Director, Institute for Science, Society and Policy
  2. 2. 2 uOttawa.ca Presentation Overview Context • Brave New World of Energy – Energy policy and regulation increasingly complex – Energy development increasingly contentious • The Positive Energy project Public Confidence • Drivers • The diagnostique: why now? – Elephants, Horses and Sitting Ducks • The prescription: how to strengthen public confidence
  3. 3. 3 uOttawa.ca Brave New World of Energy Energy Policy and Regulation Increasingly Complex – Governments in search of ‘holy grail’ of energy policy/regulation • Identifying the appropriate balance points between four imperatives: market, environment, security and social acceptance/support
  4. 4. 4 uOttawa.ca The Brave New World of Energy Politics of energy increasingly fierce and polarized – From NIMBY to BANANA & principled opposition – Not just fossil fuels Can we afford to go on this way? – Costly: money/time going into projects – Deteriorating relationships – Capital flight / lost economic & environmental opportunities
  5. 5. 5 uOttawa.ca Positive Energy Uses convening power of the university to bring together key energy players to strengthen public confidence – Policy-makers, regulators, industry, environmental NGOs, Indigenous groups, academia Undertakes solution-oriented applied evidence-based research to inform dialogue and action
  6. 6. 6 uOttawa.ca What Drives Public Confidence? Public Confidence Governments: Policy and Regulation Society: NGOs, communities, neighbours Industry: Performance
  7. 7. 7 uOttawa.ca Public Confidence: Why Now? Social / Value Change Policy Gaps Energy decision- making processes Project proponent practices
  8. 8. 8 uOttawa.ca The Horses: Social & Value Change Fundamental changes in postwar period - Decline of trust in institutions and deference to authority/expertise • consequence: whither evidence-based decision-making and credibility of public authorities to take unbiased decisions? - Desire for greater public involvement in decisions • tension between participatory & rep’ve democracy - Shift from communitarian to individual values • Prioritizes individual/local over group/national interests
  9. 9. 9 uOttawa.ca The Horses: Social & Value Change - Rise of anti-corporate/big business/fossil fuel values • Preference for small-scale locally owned renewable - Decline in risk tolerance • Perceptions of risk can trump realities of risk; risk/benefit rather than cost/benefit We aren’t in (1950s) Kansas anymore: the horses have left the barn
  10. 10. 10 uOttawa.ca The Elephants: Policy Gaps Many elephants in many rooms - Climate change: absence of forums/action • Playing out in energy decision-making processes - Indigenous concerns / Reconciliation - Many concerns beyond energy playing out in energy decision-making - Lack of mechanisms to address cumulative effects or to plan regionally • Playing out in regulatory process for individual projects
  11. 11. 11 uOttawa.ca Sitting Ducks: Energy Decision Processes Unresolved Policy Issues Played out in policy/reg’y processes Reduce public confidence
  12. 12. 12 uOttawa.ca The Sitting Ducks Energy policy & regulatory decision- making processes - Regulatory processes critiqued on all these lines; regulators’ responses may exacerbate the problem - Where project decision-making brought to political level, leaders’ responses may undermine confidence in regulatory processes and privilege short term over long term imperatives
  13. 13. 13 uOttawa.ca Who Cares? Who Should Care? • Democracies with large energy resource bases and ambitious targets for energy transition • Solutions require involvement of ministries/policy sectors beyond energy • Need to be willing to ask – and answer – the tough questions • Getting energy governance right will unlock economic and social opportunities, and help countries move to a cleaner energy future
  14. 14. 14 uOttawa.ca What to do? Importance of getting diagnosis/solutions right Accept the horses - Can’t turn back the clock on social and value change - Governments can’t act unilaterally but need to balance listening/acting Befriend the elephants – Address gaps: climate, reconciliation, cumulative/ regional effects – Ask & answer tough questions: how do we move from the ‘what’ to the ‘how’ on climate?
  15. 15. 15 uOttawa.ca What to do? Get the ducks back on their feet – Strengthen confidence in energy decision-making: • Substance: fairness, evidence-based decision- making • Process: access, trust in evidence, capacity, representation, political/regulatory interface Opportunity for Canada (and North America) to move from bleeding edge to leading edge of public confidence
  16. 16. 16 uOttawa.ca www.uottawa.ca/positive- energy

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