Country Managing Director & Head of Electrification Business, ABB Canada
ABB leads the way for sustainable tech, supporting five key areas of a city’s infrastructure: buildings, transportation, data centres, water, and industry.
Urgent action is needed to combat climate change, as it poses a threat to both human health and our planet — and the pressure will only increase.
Today’s global population of 7.8 billion is expected to expand to 9.7 billion by 2050, according to the United Nations. And by then, about 80 percent of people will live in cities, placing ever more stress on water, food, energy, and transport systems. This urbanization will create the need to burn more fossil fuels for transportation and increase the demand for energy — all contributing to global warming, says Eric Deschenes, Country Managing Director and Head of ABB’s Electrification Business in Canada.
The key to sustainability: smart cities
Deschenes says that a key to sustainability is the creation of smart cities. “Without smart cities, we aren’t going to be able to move the needle in terms of what a city can do to avoid a large carbon footprint. The war against global warming will be won or lost at the city level,” he says, adding that smart cities are needed to address three global trends: urbanization, increased energy demand, and digitalization.
Smart cities deliver value
Smart cities are a continuously-evolving ecosystem, empowering individuals to live, work, and move in a safer, smarter, and more sustainable way. Deschenes says they require political courage, with leaders bold enough to pass legislation and create forward-thinking initiatives. He cites the many Canadian cities moving ahead with light rail transit.
Indeed, Deschenes believes that Canada is the ideal place to develop the innovations that will drive smart cities. “In Canada, 81 percent of citizens live in cities — so, we’re already living in the future. We’re also one of the top countries in green electricity, as about two thirds of what we generate is through hydroelectricity,” he says. He adds that Canada is also a country of buildings, which demand smart solutions to curb energy use, such as mall escalators that will only run when needed.
Investment in the world’s future
As a technology leader, ABB focuses on areas where it can make the biggest impact: reducing carbon emissions, preserving resources, and promoting social progress. In fact, ABB recently announced its commitment to reaching carbon neutrality in its own operations by 2030. It’s also working with its customers and suppliers to implement sustainable practices across its value chain and the lifecycle of its products and solutions.
With its end-to-end portfolio of solutions, ABB Electrification supports the five key areas that speak to the heart of a city’s critical infrastructure: buildings, transportation, data centres, water, and industries. ABB is leading the way in Canada for sustainable technology, from large-scale transit projects like the Finch West LRT — where ABB will deliver equipment to ensure reliable power for Toronto’s new light rail line, supporting 46,000 daily passengers — to smart building solutions like Nexus®Pro, which allows building owners to let a smart emergency lighting system manage itself to reduce monitoring, testing times, and costs.
“A key part of our sustainability strategy is to contribute actively to a low-carbon society, in line with the Paris Agreement and following the guidelines of the Science Based Targets initiative,” says Deschenes. ABB has committed itself to setting science-based targets in the coming months.
“We can’t see it as an expense. We need to see it as an investment,” says Deschenes. “Investment in smart infrastructure is crucial to make cities sustainable. Smart cities are necessary to reverse the climate change crisis and to enhance the quality of life for the next generation.”