Climate Action: The Next Generation Part 3 of 6

By: Matt Pogue

Here at the Clean50, we ensure that those earlier on in their careers are given their due share of recognition, as they are the ones who will be carrying the heaviest burden of climate change throughout the most important part of their professional journeys. We have a specific category of recognition for these individuals who we consider Clean50 Emerging Leaders – those who are 35 or under (at the time of their accomplishments) – who are driving sustainability in Canada and globally. Each and every year we receive numerous nominations for those who in our emerging leader category, and this year has been no different – as we’ve received more than 45 young climate leaders nominations.

Unfortunately, this is far more than we can recognize in a single year! These individuals are eligible for both the primary Clean50 list and and Emerging Leader awards, but given the sheer volume of nominees, there is no guarantee they will all win an award. In order to ensure each young leader gets their deserved time in the spotlight, we’ve decided to run a weekly feature every single one of our Emerging Leader nominees over the course of six weeks.

This is the third installment of our Climate Action: The Next Generation series… read further below to learn about eight of our truly amazing nominees this year:

Anna Harman

Anna Harman (27) – JLL – Ottawa, ON

When the second largest source of GHGs in Canada is buildings, the actions of the largest landlord in the country, the Government of Canada, surely matter a lot! Anna used her mechanical engineering background to play a pivotal role on the WSP team, helping the Government develop prioritization strategies for deep green retrofits of buildings, and identifying best practices to achieve targeted results. She also contributed to a carbon road mapping tool that she used to help identify opportunities to cut over 18 million tonnes of CO2 annually from over 1,000 buildings in the government’s portfolio. Additionally, she worked alongside her team on strategies to completely decarbonize 150 government-owned buildings around the world by 2050. Anna has recently joined JLL in the capacity of Senior Decarbonization Advisor where she is continuing to extend her efforts across Canada and Internationally to bring together a network of leaders who are working together to curve the effects of climate change. 

Alexander Ip

Alexander Ip (36)– Cert Systems – Toronto, ON

Industrial manufacturing processes account for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, with chemicals production contributing to over 1.5 Gigatons of CO2 emissions per year. However, the CERT Systems team has developed a revolutionary carbon conversion technology which enables the sustainable electrification of chemical manufacturing, producing valuable products such as ethylene and syngas. Over the past two years Alexander and cofounder Christine Gabardo, 2022 Emerging Leader, have scaled CERT’s technology by over 10,000 times, with their new pilot electrolyser being able to convert over 100 kg of carbon per day. This is the largest CO2 electrolyser that has ever been demonstrated.

Moe Kabbara

Moe Kabbara (31) – The Transition Accelerator – Calgary, AB

While there have been many exciting announcements on EV manufacturing in Canada, our country had no comprehensive industrial strategy or roadmap develop a sustainable supply chain that supported the electrification of the transportation industry.  That is until Moe and his team stepped in; spearheading the formation of the Accelerate Alliance, a project that is organizing and mobilizing all the necessary key stakeholders along the ZEV supply chain, and push for provincial and federal policies, programs and support needed for the industry to thrive. This initiative involves partnerships with over 40 industry leaders in the value chain, and will add critical job security and additional opportunities as our transportation industry – which already employs over 500,000 Canadians – shifts toward electrification.

Chris Kallal

Chris Kallal (32) – Wild + Pine – Edmonton, AB

11 years ago, Chris founded Wild + Pine in his second year at the university of Alberta. Since then, he has seen his business evolve into an emerging leader in Canadian climate action – developing verified nature-based carbon removal projects through restoring Canada’s forests. However, Wild + Pine does not simply ‘plant trees’, as their ground-breaking technology optimizes the growth of tree seedlings in their 100% artificial vertical greenhouse. This technology allows seedlings to grow within a controlled environment, generating 3x the product per square foot, while using 80% less water compared to conventional growing methods. Chris isn’t letting his own his company slip under the radar either – in 2021 they became Edmonton’s 8th Certified B Corporation and in 2021 they offset 100% of their GHG emissions, with plans to become a net zero business by 2030.

Geetanjali Kanwar

Geetanjali Kanwar (29) – MKB & Co. – Toronto, ON

Geetanjali brings extensive experience operating at the nexus of finance, clean economy, and innovation. Having grown up in one of the most polluted cities in the world, she believes that the climate emergency demands urgent action from all of us. At MKB, Geetanjali and her team are on a mission to accelerate the energy transition by supporting management teams focused on decarbonizing high carbon-emitting sectors such as energy, transportation, food and agriculture. MKB’s first thematic fund of $52m was followed by its $175m successor fund, collectively both funds have made investments in 14 globally scalable climate technology companies to date.

Siddartha Krishnan

Siddartha Krishnan (36) – Blue Vision Capital – Toronto, ON

Until recently, Siddartha was a Partner at BDC’s Industrial, Clean, and Energy Technology Venture Fund (BDC ICE Venture Fund). Along with the BDC ICE team, he managed close to $300M in investments into early-stage industrial and clean tech companies. Siddartha often acted as a board member or advisor to his investees – offering guidance and ensuring growth. Siddartha helped BDC enable cleantech leaders such as Sofdesk, ThoughtWire, and two-time Clean50 award-winning company CarbonCure Technologies, to sustain their growth trajectory, and thrive in Canadian and international markets. In June, Siddartha moved on from BDC, partnering with Blue Vision Capital, a brand-new venture firm focusing on making seed-stage climate tech investments. The firm has completed a first close of $40 million, and has actively begun deploying capital, while continuing to fundraise for a second close.

Ulrich Legrand

Ulrich Legrand (31) – Electro Carbon Inc. – St-Bruno, QU

Back in 2019, Ulrich obtained overwhelming results from a carbon conversion study done at a McGill University laboratory on a 1 cm2 carbon electrolyser cell. This study demonstrated that the electrochemical cell for CO2 reduction could be scaled-up to a much greater capacity than we ever imagined! Propelling him into action, he joined up with his business partners to create Electro Carbon, who has developed a 200 cm2 electrochemical cell, and then an industrial 1,900 cm2 cell that converts CO2 into valuable chemicals like potassium formate. So far, they have received positive results from their pilot technology, as it operates at 86% current efficiency. These results led to a 3-year collaboration with CNETE and a $1.4 million budget funded by NSERC, Prima Quebec and Mitacs.

Aletta Leitch

Aletta Leitch (31) – Government of Yukon – Whitehorse, YT

Tired with environmental policy and legislation being swept under the rug, Aletta has made it her mission to ensure the Yukon does their part in the carbon free transition. She led the team which designed ‘Our Clean Future’ – an enhanced climate change plan, clean energy, and green economy strategy for the Yukon. This program, which obtained support from the territory’s government in September of 2020, sets a course for a $500 million commitment on climate action over the next 10 years. It is nothing like the territory has ever seen before, with targets of 45% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, a net zero target of 2050, and yearly reporting and updates to legislation when necessary. Talk about long lasting change!