Energy Security Forum

Webinar explores the value of jointly reducing emissions

Japan and Canada are engaged in the efforts to actively pursue cleaner energy sources and are committed to working together to achieve carbon net zero by 2050. While demonstrat­­ing this through business collaboration, the two govern­­ments are also active in showing their commitment to the cause. 

A three-day webinar moderated by First Secretary, Trade Policy at the Embassy of Canada in Japan, Lisa Mallin was held on December 14–16, 2021, with insights from leaders of industry, government figures, Indigenous representatives and academics. Written before energy prices soared after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, this article highlights some of the key themes and comments from the diverse and esteemed speakers, but given the extent of the webinar, does not provide exhaustive coverage.

Lisa Mallin and David Bostwick

David Bostwick, Counsellor (Commercial) responsible for investment, energy, natural resources, cleantech, advanced manufacturing and trade policy at the Embassy of Canada, opened the event by telling attendees what to expect throughout the event.

“Over the next three days, we will hear from over 30 speakers highlighting various aspects of the deepening Canada–Japan energy relations, covering capabilities from liquefied petroleum gas [LPG], liquefied natural gas [LNG] and hydrogen to ammonia. We will be joined by industry leaders, academics and senior Canadian and Japanese government officials to provide their insights. It is my sincere hope that you will walk away from this week’s forum with a greater understanding of Canada’s capabilities, our talent and expertise, and why we are a reliable partner of choice for Japan in the broader Indo-Pacific region.”


“The world is at an inflection point as we work to tackle the changing climate. This isn’t a political issue, it is a science issue.”

Bostwick then introduced Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, who delivered keynote remarks. “I want to thank Ambassador [Ian G.] McKay and all of those involved in organizing this important forum. It couldn’t be more timely coming in on the heels of COP26 in Glasgow. At that meeting, both important progress and signi­fi­cant commit­ments were made. There was a clear under­standing that the world is at an inflection point as we work to tackle the changing climate. This isn’t a political issue, it is a science issue,” he said.

Jonathan Wilkinson

Minister Wilkinson then spoke on the importance of reducing emissions globally. “In these efforts, Japan and Canada are natural partners. Both of our countries have committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, both countries see the opportunities that will emerge from being leaders in clean energy and both countries under­stand the importance of energy security in maintaining the free and open Pacific region. My message to you today is a simple one: Canada stands ready to contribute to that security. That is why in 2019, when Canada hosted the 12th Clean Energy Ministerial in Vancouver, British Columbia, which is the region I represent in Canada’s federal cabinet, we helped launch a new hydrogen initiative alongside Japan.

“Now is the time to seize these opportunities and enhance Japan’s energy security while advancing our shared goal of a cleaner energy future.”

“This forum will remind us that while climate change is the greatest challenge of our generation, it can also be the greatest opportu­nity of our lifetimes if we are thoughtful in our approach and ambitious in our actions. Now is the time to seize these opportunities and enhance Japan’s energy security while advancing our shared goal of a cleaner energy future.”

Ian G. McKay

Canadian Ambassador to Japan Ian G. McKay thanked Minister Wilkinson for highlighting the importance of the energy sector to Canada, and reiterated the significance of Canada and Japan’s shared net-zero commitment, saying that “This is an enormous challenge that must be viewed as the greatest economic and strategic opportunity in the history of our bilateral relationship.” Ambassador McKay also underscored the fact that Canada is a competitive, sustainable and reliable partner in supporting Japan’s economic security and energy transition needs. 


Hikariko Ono

Hikariko Ono, Director General of the Economic Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan, spoke on the collabo­ra­tive actions between Canada and Japan. “As the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues, challenges such as the stability of the energy market, and compatibility between climate change and energy transition are becoming more important. Japan and Canada have been cooperating in the energy field for many years, and now it is high time to explore how to continue to include energy security in the Indo-Pacific region,” she explained.

Ono also discussed the recent energy price increase. She explained that “natural gas spot prices in Asia have shot up about five times in November compared to last March. It is concerning that high energy prices will affect the economic recovery from the pandemic, and Japan is working with oil-producing countries to increase production for the stability of the energy market and coordinating with consuming countries and relevant international organizations.

“Japan and Canada can and should contri­bute to decarbonization in a sustainable manner by making the most of their know­ledge, technology and resources. Canada — a resource-rich country — is a great economic partner of Japan. And Japanese companies have long been involved in the energy business in Canada. This year, Japanese companies have been launching fuel, ammonia and hydrogen projects and carbon capture and storage-related businesses in Canada,” she explained, adding that these new ventures cannot be completed overnight. Ono emphasized that long-standing relationships built on trust are important to aid in responding to the challenge of climate change and the challenges that energy transitions will bring.

Ken Koyama

Dr. Ken Koyama, Senior Managing Director of the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, was next to speak, elaborating on Japan’s energy security strategy and the geopolitics of energy. “The energy security risk is significantly growing and we will continue to depend on fossil fuels during this transition of energy neutrality or carbon neutrality. So, in order to promote the creation of electricity utilizing decarbonized methods, we’ll have to think about this from the perspective of efficiency and stability. In other words, we will have to consider gradual transitions,” he explained.

Koyama also mentioned the importance of hydrogen and ammonia, discussing the potential importance of Japan’s import and export relationships between countries across the world. “The big potential suppliers will be the Middle East, Canada, America — so the trade relationship with those critical suppliers will become very important and we must build the international supply chain to guarantee or achieve energy security between supplier and producer, and consumer investment.”


Jeff Kucharski

Dr. Jeff Kucharski, Adjunct Professor at Royal Roads University in Victoria, and a senior fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute who has a specific focus on the Indo-Pacific, discussed the future of the global oil demand.

“It would be prudent and realistic to assume oil demand in 2050 will most likely fall some­where between the levels implied in the net zero and announced policy scenarios. That is between 24 and 75 million barrels a day by 2050. In other words, between about 24 per cent and 75 per cent of what global oil demand is today,” he explained.

Kucharski discussed how the demand for natural gas is likely to fall less than oil due to its importance as a transition fuel, and as a flexible backup for renewable generation. “Similar to oil, natural gas demand in 2050 will most likely fall somewhere between 1,747 and 4,004 billion cubic metres by 2050. In other words, between about 45 per cent and 100 per cent of what global natural gas demand is today.

“As the world drives to reduce emissions and decarbonize the global economy, we will need all types of fuels to ensure that we maintain energy security and energy affordability while sustaining economic growth. Most countries in the Indo-Pacific realize this ‘all of the above’ approach to energy sources will be critical over the transition. And that’s why their energy policies focus on fuel source diversification,” he said.


Shaun Stevenson

The second day began with some words from Shaun Stevenson, President and CEO of the Port of Prince Rupert, Canada’s third-largest port. He discussed the port’s advantages and how it contributes to Canada’s ability to provide energy to Japan.

“Our close proximity to Asia means that we can access Canadian energy production through efficient supply chains across the Pacific to Japan, carving weeks out of total transportation times and taking costs out of that shipping. At the Port of Prince Rupert, we have a safe and efficient harbour. Furthermore, navigational approaches to the Port of Prince Rupert and our terminals are the safest on the West Coast. This means that we can serve vessels efficiently and safely to and from the terminals within the Port of Prince Rupert.”


Jennifer Osmar

Jennifer Osmar, Manager of Stakeholder Relations at Calgary-based energy company AltaGas Ltd., was invited to discuss the Indigenous partner­ships between the energy industry and First Nations and Métis in Canada. Osmar presented two videos to the audience of the webinar, both of which communicated different messages.

“In Canada, Indigenous reconciliation is a shared priority. Energy projects provide opportunity and responsibility for govern­ments and industry to actively participate in true partner­ships with Indigenous communities. Together, we’re learning to build more sustain­able and more equitable resource projects. The industry is demonstrating that we can align with Indigenous values to protect the environment, and to provide meaningful benefits to commu­nities, while at the same time delivering security of energy to our global partners,” she explained.

“In the first video, the partnership is at work through indigenous training and employment. When AltaGas built the Ridley Island propane export terminal in 2018, we partnered with the Metlakatla and the Lax Kw’alaams communities to build a training program to be able to hire their community members at our facility. As a result, today, over 25 per cent of our workforce at the facility is Indigenous. And we continue to work together to grow that number.” 

In the second video, Osmar pointed out how the partnerships between the energy industry and Indigenous Peoples focused on an Indigenous housing initiative. “Our industry colleagues at Cenovus [an integrated oil and natural gas company] have made the largest community investment in their company’s history, bringing critical housing to Indigenous communities in Alberta. We hope you will enjoy hearing directly from our Indigenous communities, what employment in the energy industry means to them and their families, and what new housing means to community stability.”

Clean, renewable energy at work in a field of wind turbines and solar panels in Ontario, Canada


“In terms of the long journey to a carbon-neutral society, it is unlikely that we will achieve our goals solely by our own effort.”

Tsuyoshi Ogasawara, President of Astomos Energy Corporation, discussed the carbon-neutral goal, agreed by Japan and Canada, for 2050.

“In both countries, private companies will be required to [devise] a series of plans and reports to support accountability and transparency to achieve a prosperous net zero economy. In terms of the long journey to a carbon-neutral society, it is unlikely that we will achieve our goals solely by our own effort. We’d like to keep a close dialogue with others to find effective measures together,” he explained.


Masashi Watanabe

Masashi Watanabe, Director for Fuel Ammonia, Petroleum, LNG Policy at the Agency for Natural Resource and Energy, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, spoke on Japan’s recently updated Road Map for Fuel Ammonia.

“I think most of the audience already knows that ammonia is a carrier of hydrogen, but we are now trying to utilize ammonia as a recovery fuel for power generation — especially for coal power plants. So the road map shows that we would like to introduce 20 per cent of the coal firing of ammonia in coal power plants by 2020–2030. And we are trying to increase the ratio of ammonia coal firing in the 2030s and change to ammonia fuel generation in the 2040s. This is one way to utilize or decarbonize coal power plants. Some countries have already decided to shut down all coal power plants, but we are trying to utilize them by decarbonizing them,” he explained.

“We are now trying to increase international awareness, including asking the International Energy Agency to analyze the importance of the use of ammonia to decarbonize power generation, and we are now talking to energy-rich countries for [the establishment of] a new supply chain with countries including Canada, the US, the Middle East, as well as the European Union. So from these activities we would like to establish the fuel ammonia supply chain to help promote awareness of fuel ammonia, and to introduce fuel ammonia to power plants.” 

As the third day ended, Bostwick returned to provide some closing remarks. “Regarding the Canada–Japan energy security relationship, years ago, we would often think of our relation­ship solely in terms of political or economic terms. However, today we’re seeing the interplay between these worlds, and how a stronger energy relationship between Canada and Japan can support a free and open Indo-Pacific.” 

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