Calgary film at COP28 examines use of fossil fuels by developing countries Wa Jobz

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Looking at the use of fossil fuels in developing countries is the question at the centre of the documentary Without Leaving Anyone Behind.

The filmmakers are University of Calgary professor Harrie Vredenburg and Sylvester Ndumbi, a Calgary-based producer.

The film was screened on Dec. 5 at the Canadian pavilion at COP28 in Dubai and is being screened on Monday Dec. 11 in the United Nations area.

“We are very clear climate change is a very serious issue that we need to deal with. And yet, (the film is) not coming at it from a polarized response that we’re so accustomed to hearing,” said Vredenburg a University of Calgary professor at the Haskayne School of Business.

Vredenburg said renewables are going to play a major role along with hydrogen, carbon capture and nuclear power.

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“We go to Hawaii, the island of Kawai, that in a few years will be almost entirely renewables and energy storage focused. That’s a small island, but it shows what can happen. It’s kind of a test case.”

The film explores how leaders in  developing countries are attempting to raise people out of poverty through the use of fossil fuels.

“Too bad we came late to the party. Now it’s our turn, but that’s not to say we’re not prepared to do our bit even though our contribution to climate change is minimal,” Vredenburg said.

Recent COP meetings have focused on sending cash to helping developing nations but Vredenburg says technology transfers are critical.

“Where I personally differ from some of the discussions that are going on at the last couple of COP meetings is that this isn’t just about sending money to developing countries in the Global south. This is about technology transfer. Helping countries that are helping themselves. We have to help them with technology transfers through consultancy through direct foreign investment and putting money into helping them decarbonize their fossil fuel industry,” Vredenburg said.

“Canadian companies have always worked around the world and brought in new technologies. That’s been their competitive advantage. Why would it be any different now when we’re talking about decarbonization technology?”

Sylvester Ndumbi is the Calgary director of the film who is in Dubai now for COP28.

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“Having a film that was produced by a Calgary company with a Calgary crew, screening at the United Nations event, and also with the Canadian pavilion has been truly amazing,” Ndumbi said. “It goes to show the belief I’ve always had that in Calgary we can also do it. We belong on the world stage.”

He wanted to make sure people from the Global South had a platform to tell their story.

“There’s people in the Global south who are concerned about eating tomorrow. So how do you address that? How do you convince the farmer to abandon fertilizer that he’s been that he’s been using for years?”

He says the film aims to change the language around climate change so it becomes less polarized.

“Especially in Alberta we saw it right in front of our eyes here at COP28. Danielle Smith comes into the pavilion with a very different message from the federal minister,”

Ndumbi said he wanted to move away the Global North “prescription mentality”  in the film. ”

“We wanted to stay away from that, and let people see the different perspectives in different realities around the world, and I think me being from the Global south I can see some of my influence in what we did to make sure.” Ndumbi said.

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