Thank you for inviting me to be here today. I'm honoured to be joining you from the unceded territory of the Squamish people in British Columbia.
Student Energy was founded in Calgary, Alberta, in 2009, precisely because young people in Canada wanted to determine how they could be part of creating a sustainable energy system that no longer contributed to climate change or inequities we see in the world. Our founders were not alone, and today we represent over 50,000 youth in 120 countries. In Canada we have 10 chapters, 30 fellows and a membership of thousands in every province and territory. We're also pleased to be the host organization of the SevenGen council, a group of indigenous youth from first nations, Métis and Inuit communities across Canada that are working to empower their peers to lead in our energy future.
I firmly believe that the greatest stakeholders in the actions Canada takes to curb its emissions are young Canadians. In 2050, my peers and I will still be working full-time jobs, raising children and shaping Canada's economy. For us, a strong cap on oil and gas emissions is essential. If Canada does not act, it is our immediate future that is at stake. We will be left with the economic burdens of climate change and the stranded assets that do not serve us or our communities in the economy of the future.
Overwhelmingly, young Canadians want their country and political leaders like you to take swift action to decarbonize. In 2021, Student Energy conducted our Global Youth Energy Outlook, a “first of its kind” research report that surveyed over 42,000 young people across 123 countries to assemble a robust data set on what young people want from the future of their energy system. The results were overwhelming. Over 80% of young people globally want their country to have a decarbonization target, and 92% of them want to see their country achieve net zero by 2050 or earlier.
Young people are willing to work to make this a reality, with the vast majority seeking careers in sustainable energy, and 82% stating that they would vote for a political candidate based on sustainable energy policy.
In Canada there are often questions about if, as a smaller country, we should act. This data shows us that the answer is a clear yes. Canada has the opportunity to lead, and we can see clearly that this cohesive voice of the next generation will reward this leadership at a global level.
Within our research we did also pay special attention to Canada through surveying young people ages 18 to 30 and hosting regional dialogues on the transition for heavy industry, the innovation landscape and energy access in remote and indigenous communities. Canadian young people show even stronger support for the energy transition, 82% of whom are advocating for decarbonization and 97% of them want Canada to reach a zero-carbon energy system by 2050.
Young Canadians have identified the lack of political willpower and not having appropriate policies and regulations in place as the biggest barrier to achieving this energy future. A strong cap on greenhouse gas emissions for the oil and gas sector is the first step to demonstrating this type of political leadership that Canada's future voters, workers and consumers require.
A cap on emissions creates clarity for industry, workers and impacted communities. Without that transparent and clear plan it will be hard for everyone to have certainty about their future. We already see that young people are turning away from careers in oil and gas, with enrolment in petroleum engineering at the University of Calgary being so low that the university had to suspend the program. High numbers of people currently in the industry are reporting that they are actively looking to pivot careers to other sectors.
Canadians are smart. They know that climate change will be and already is impacting them in their careers. At the same time, the skills and knowledge within Canada's existing oil and gas industry can provide us with great advantages that we can leverage to build a cohesive energy transition together.
From a training perspective, there is a huge opportunity to be innovative and support young people to develop careers that are aligned with a zero-carbon energy system. Canada is primed to foster the next generation of entrepreneurs who will be required to lead this energy future. We can work together to prepare our young people for these incredible opportunities, but it is up to you to provide the political certainty required to enable that investment in our talent and potential.
Young people want their country and leaders to make decisions based on strong values that centre equity, indigenous rights and opportunities for future generations to thrive. A just transition needs to be a priority for all Canadians, and it has to start with strong political leadership. This policy cannot have loopholes. Rather, it must show that you, our political leaders, believe in Canada's ingenuity and the potential of our people, our country and our next generation to rise to meet this opportunity to be a global leader together.
Thank you for having me here today and for working to include young people on these crucial matters that will shape our future.