Green energy investment a 'once in a generation' shot: Mark Wiseman

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The chair of Alberta’s largest pension fund manager is hailing the shift toward green energy as the “investment opportunity of a generation.”

Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) chair Mark Wiseman said the increased focus on the damage caused by climate change and the regime shift south of the border should accelerate the adoption of clean energy sources and create massive opportunities for forward-thinking investors.

“I think we’re going to see a massive acceleration, particularly in the first two years of the Biden administration, to a move to climate finance; to a move to green energy and to a move towards a much more aggressive policy transition and economic transition to net-zero [emissions],” he said in an interview on Tuesday. “So, I think hydrogen is one of the things that will, in all likelihood, play a very important role in that.”

AIMCo is among the eight largest pension fund managers in Canada, and had $118.8 billion worth of assets under management as of the end of fiscal 2019. The fund has posted an 8.2-per-cent annualized return on investments over the last decade.

While Canada has historically leaned heavily on the extraction and export of traditional energy sources, Wiseman said he is convinced the nation’s long track record of energy innovation should allow Canada to be at the fore of the green energy revolution.

“I really believe that this may be the investment opportunity of a generation. And, I believe Canadian investors, Canadian banks, Canadian pension plans can play an incredibly important role in leading what is now being described as transition finance,” he said.

“As we move to a net-zero world in 2030, 2040, 2050 and beyond, we are going to have to finance that change. Canadian corporations have the opportunity to be at the forefront of that change. I think we should view it as not something we have to be defensive about, but actually: ‘How are we going to play offence? How are we going to lead, in terms of transition finance?’”

The federal government has pledged that Canada will reach net-zero emissions status by 2050, joining about 120 other countries which have set the same goal.

Though Wiseman views the clean-power push as a potential boon for the domestic economy, he said that Canada’s oil and gas sector can play a critical role in bridging the gap as the green energy industry matures.

“Canadian natural resources and Canadian energy is still going to be incredibly important,” he said.

“Canadian energy has to play a very important role overall in North America.”