Montreal will host the 21st Congress of the World Energy Council from September 12 to 16, 2010. More than 3,500 delegates from over a hundred countries, representing all energy sectors, will meet to discuss the challenges the energy sector will face over the next 25 years. The World Energy Congress takes place every three years and is the premier global energy forum with exhibition to forge a better understanding of energy issues and solutions on a global basis. This is the second time the Congress has come to Montreal. The city previously hosted the 14th Congress in 1989.

The Montreal Congress also comes at a strategic moment for the energy industry, nine months after COP15 in Copenhagen, and two months after the G8/G20 Summits, where energy was front and center on the agenda. Taking place barely two months before COP16 in Cancun, Mexico, the Montreal Congress is de facto the key moment for all leaders and decision makers in the energy sector. Why?

Stephane Bertran

COP15 in Copenhagen was the largest gathering of heads of state in the history of the United Nations. Even if the conference didn’t achieve all it had hoped to, the sheer number of attendees and the recognition gained for maintaining the dialogue on climate change proved that there is much that needs to be resolved.

Given the need for action, the dialogue must go on. It is a necessity. Energy is the issue of the day. It is becoming clear that as energy and climate related problems and challenges become more global, awareness of these problems and the sense of urgency surrounding them also assumes international proportions.

Pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is increasingly stronger, even though 86% of world supply still comes from combustion of fossil fuels. That being said, the challenge of climate change and reduction of greenhouse gases is only one of the important issues.

At this time, more than one third of the world’s population (2 billion persons) has no reliable energy supply. Moreover, between now and 2020, world energy needs will grow steadily, and prices will rise significantly as the pressure mounts from economic recovery and growth of developing countries. It is expected that the world demand for energy will double by 2050.

Added to this, the energy sector now faces overwhelming problems of environmental, social, and political acceptability while the world economy is also coping with major disruptions.

The Montreal World Energy Congress is currently seen by the global energy community as a pivotal event. Given the present economic climate and an attendant sense of global urgency, combined with the advent of profound transformations in the world, a total of 14 international organizations will be associated with the Congress. The list of energy-related events that will be held in conjunction with the Congress includes the annual WEC-FT Energy Leader Summit which will be held outside London for the first time; special meetings of Energy Ministers from Frenchspeaking countries and their Commonwealth counterparts; and extraordinary meetings of organizations with an interest in the energy sector, such as the World Bank and the e8.

Some 250 high-level speakers from industry, government and research and academia will talk about key issues facing the energy sector today, divided into four central themes to be discussed during the four-day event: day one addresses ACCESSIBILITY (meeting worldwide energy demand); day two addresses AVAILABILITY (what is the right energy mix for long term stability?); day three addresses ACCEPTABILITY (energy solutions for the planet), and; day four addresses ACCOUNTABILITY (policies, regulations and financing).

A list of some noted speakers who have confirmed their attendance at the Congress:

•Angel Gurría, Secretary General, OCDE
•Henri Proglio, President and CEO, EDF, France
•Khalid Al-Falih, President and CEO, Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia
•Peter Voser, CEO, Shell, Netherlands
•Georgina Kessel, Minister of Energy, Mexico
•José Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo, President and CEO, Petrobras, Brazil
•Davood Manzoor, Minister of Energy, Iran
•Daniel Yergin, Chairman, CERA, United States
•Zhou Jiping, Vice President, China National Petroleum Corporation, China
•Rick George, President and CEO, Suncor, Canada
•Sergey Novikov, Head of Federal Tariff Service, Russia
•Anne Lauvergeon, President and Director, Groupe Areva, France
•Pierre Gadonneix, President, World Energy Council
•Jacynthe Côté, CEO, Rio Tinto Alcan, Canada

Some 200 exhibitors will gather at the Montreal Convention Center to display their know-how and the results of recent technology research as well as educate the public about the challenges we must all face if we are to maintain our societies’ standard of living and development. Many companies from all sectors of the power generation and the petroleum industries will take part in the 4-day exhibition. Other types of exhibitors that will be represented include governments, consultancy experts as well as the financial sector.

The Montreal Congress will also have an impact outside the country with the Montreal Declaration. This text will be drafted at the close of the Congress sessions. Because the Declaration will carry official weight and present the conclusions from the Congress, it will define the World Energy Council’s action plan for the next three years, until the Daegu Congress in 2013.

The WEC adopted a philosophy of accountability. This means that the Council wants to be able to measure its progress from Montreal to the next Congress in Daegu. So if it decides, for example, to lower its greenhouse gas emissions, promote green energy, or advocate new kinds of cars, the actual results will be measured so it can follow progress for at least the next three or four years.

These efforts are applied with respect to the Council’s mission: "To promote the sustainable supply and use of energy for the greatest benefit of all people". This mission is shared by all WEC Member Committees that are represented in 93 countries world-wide. Such an exposure allows this non- profit organization to have a greater impact from a global perspective.

It is very urgent to work on efficiency and invest in research and development to ensure a steady supply as well as more efficient consumption. It is extremely important for people to know what's going on right now, and be aware of the tremendous challenges we all face in terms of energy— poor countries and developing countries, as well as rich countries—everybody, right down to the consumer.

Since November 2007, Stéphane Bertrand has held the position of Executive Director of the World Energy Congress – Montréal 2010.

Prior to that, between 2003 and 2007, he was Principal Private Secretary to the Premier of Québec. As part of his duties he contributed directly to formulating government policy and establishing the provincial budget.

Stéphane Bertrand worked at Gaz Métropolitain for a number of years, holding the positions of Manager, and then Vice President, Communications, Public and Government Affairs. Prior to that, he was a consultant with a communication consulting firm in Montréal where he was in charge of two major gas pipeline projects, and also served as Vice President, Planning and Development at Société financière des Caisses populaires Desjardins. He was also Principal Private Secretary and Economist, Responsible for Press Relations in the Office of the Deputy Minister for Finance and Privatization and in the Office of the Minister of Cultural Affairs for Québec.

The holder of a Master's Degree in Economics from Université de Montréal, Stéphane Bertrand is a member of the Board of Directors of the Public Relations Chair at UQAM and the Foundation of Stars. He also sat on the board of directors of Carbone 14, was Chairman of the Fondation des Jeux du Québec, the Public Affairs Committee of the Canadian Gas Association, and sat on the Board of Directors of Info-Excavation and the Pipeline Association.