Canada has set a target to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. One of the paths to reach this target is through the accelerated adoption of renewable energy technologies. This requires citizen engagement and participation. RECs represent an opportunity for citizens to engage and participate in a local and democratic form of renewable energy production. For RECs to make a meaningful contribution to Canada's net-zero objective, however, they need to find a way to scale their activities and deepen their influence with citizens, policymakers, and each other. 

Drawing on findings from a recent census of Canada's renewable energy co-operative (REC) sector, this discussion series will explore how RECs can make a more meaningful, and timely, contribution to Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Each installment of the discussion series will be held on the third Wednesday of each month, starting on January 18, 2023, at 12:00 PM (Saskatchewan time) on Zoom. The sessions are free to attend and open to anyone.  

Upcoming Talks

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Canada’s Renewable Energy Co-operatives featuring Derya Tarhan

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Canada’s Renewable Energy Co-operatives featuring Derya Tarhan

Recent studies from Europe and Canada have shown that membership bodies of renewable energy co-operatives (RECs) predominantly consist of affluent white men. This demographic concentration points at a disconnect between REC activity and its often-assumed potential in simultaneously advancing decarbonisation and social justice. This presentation will build on interviews with leading members RECs in Ontario to identify factors driving the exclusion of marginalised and frontline communities from REC initiatives. Findings reveal that a combination of inadequate policy support and complex preparatory activities in Ontario geared the pursuit of REC development towards affluent, professional class groups with access to necessary practical capacities. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of paths forward for Canada’s REC sector and the broader co-operative movement to act on the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion.  

About our speaker

Derya Tarhan is an Assistant Professor in the Teaching Stream at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University Toronto, and a postdoctoral research fellow at Royal Roads University. His work focuses on the theory, practice, and intersections of social and solidarity economy (SSE), community development, and socio-environmental change. He also has been involved in the forming of a renewable energy co-operative in Ontario and serves as a board member of the Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation.

Event Information

Date: Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm (Saskatchewan time or Central Standard Time)
File: Download Event Poster

Past Talks

Co-operative energy in Canada: Revolutionising the energy transition? featuring Julie MacArthur

Canadian energy systems are undergoing significant, albeit uneven and contested, restructuring away from fossil fuel reliance and toward energy efficiency and renewables. Policy changes to spur transition have largely focused on expanding low-carbon sources of electricity and far less on the role of ownership and participation. This gap is concerning because community participation is crucial to effective energy system transformation by enhancing trust, legitimacy, and community development. Canadian renewable energy co-operatives are already active participants in energy production, distribution, retail and educational services and form part of the broader "community energy" sector. This presentation will discuss the distinctiveness, scope, and potential role of these renewable energy co-operatives in building the social and physical infrastructures needed for radical change. It will draw insights from international examples and explore some of the complexities associated with their impact and development relevant to the Canadian context.

About our speaker

Dr. Julie MacArthur is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Reimagining Capitalism at Royal Roads University. She is the author of Empowering Electricity: Co-operatives, Sustainability and Power Sector Reform in Canada (UBC 2016), co-editor of Environmental Politics and Policy in Aotearoa New Zealand (with Maria Bargh, 2022) and author of numerous articles and book chapters on energy democracy, inclusive low carbon transitions, participatory environmental governance, and comparative energy policy. She is recent past-Chair of the international WISER (Women and Inclusivity in Sustainable Energy Research) Network.

Event Information

Date: Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm (Saskatchewan time or Central Standard Time)
File: Download Event Poster