Global Network Immersion Week – Sauder Business School, Vancouver


As mentioned in previous posts, Smurfit is part of a global network of MBA schools, which offers you the opportunity to sit a course in another business school for a week. It’s a great experience and one worth taking if you get the chance. I chose to go to the Sauder Business School in the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. The course was entitled ‘Clean Energy and Green Infrastructure – Innovation at the Nexus of Politics and Society’. With an MSc in Renewable Energy Development and having worked in the energy sector for 7 years prior to my MBA, I jumped at the chance. It also meant I had an excuse to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen in years.


The course really struck at the heart of global economics in the context of global warming, and how greenhouse gases (GHGs) can be reduced or offset. Needless to say, the concepts are simple in principle but incredibly difficult in practice. They require buy in across the board and with many other societal pressures acting on governments around the World, the global warming issue is often pushed down the pecking order.

Carbon taxation, carbon offsetting and market-driven GHG reduction policies were explored. Examples of where these market-driven measures were working were contrasted against regions of the world were no such economic drivers existed. Furthermore it is the developed countries of world that are the largest emitters of GHGs and the developing countries that have the greatest carbon offsetting potential. As you might expect the offsetting concept is fraught with political tensions regarding economic development.

In 2012 China overtook the USA as the World’s largest emitter of GHGs. This is primarily as a result of its enormous fleet of coal fired power stations. The scary thing is that its rate of increase of GHG production is much higher than all other major contributors. In fact the other major contributors are flat lining with the exception of India. So what is the global solution to this global problem? British Columbia and western Canada may play a big role in this over the coming years and decades.


British Columbia and the neighbouring province of Alberta have enormous shale gas reserves and the potential for exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia is very real – shortest distance to market. Per unit electricity produced LNG emits almost 50 per cent less GHGs than coal. With increasing international and national pressure (global warming and air quality), conversion of China’s coal fired power stations to gas fired power stations is one of the front running solutions to clean up China’s contribution to global warming while not impacting on its economic development. For a country on the other side of the Pacific Ocean to prove to be a major part of China’s power solution shows just how interlinked the economies of the World have become. With the Paris summit on climate change just around the corner, this subject is going to become very topical over the next weeks and months.

So that was just a snapshot of my week in Vancouver. A lot more went on that week but as they say ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour!’

Finbarr Coghlan ~ Full-Time MBA