While students at the University of Calgary, Kali Taylor and Janice Tran acted on idea to bring fellow students from across the globe together for a conference on sustainable energy solutions. They led a group of peers in hosting the first International Student Energy Summit (ISES) in 2009.
The Summit, which was completely for students and by students, attracted 350 young people from 30 different countries. “We were reaching out to students all over the world with different perspectives and that come from different backgrounds,” said Taylor. “Bringing them all together into one spot and having them interact has, from what we’ve seen so far, been an amazing catalyst in actually invoking change.”
The event had something for everyone, be it a technical, political or financial look at energy. “We intended to do it through breadth as opposed to depth. We wanted to reach as many people as possible and make it as approachable as possible,” explained Tran.
Experts in various relevant fields came to speak. At the second Summit, which took place in 2011, Rajendra Pachauri (Chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change), Jeremy Rifkin (economist and political advisor), Andrew Nikiforuk (noted Canadian journalist) and Mark Jaccard (environmental economist at Simon Fraser University) were among the many experts who gave presentations. Taylor and Tran raised roughly $750,000 for the two conferences and had more than 50 students working on logistics.
The goal of the conferences was to bring together people from various backgrounds and interest groups. Differences in opinion on energy solutions have emerged as a result of the diversity in home country, occupation and fields of expertise. According the Taylor and Tran, the conferences encourage leadership and cooperation rather than advocate for particular solutions.
Student Energy, the organization responsible for planning the summits and ensuring that the ongoing dialogue around energy reaches more and more students, is led by Taylor and Tran. Outside of Student Energy, Tran is pursuing her chartered accountant designation. She’s working with Ernst & Young on energy audits, sustainability consulting and corporate social responsibility reporting for big companies. She’s also researching corporate greenhouse gas audits and reporting at the University of Saskatchewan, and is hoping to eventually get a PhD.
Taylor is a carbon capture and storage (CCS) analyst with Integrated CO2 Network in Calgary. She’s working with companies to help them reduce their GHG footprint. In the next year, she’s hoping to start on a master’s degree in climate change management.