Nathan Steeghs

A front-row seat on the history—and future—of climate action in business
Karen Hamberg
Sustainability is part of Nathan’s DNA. A graduate of mechanical engineering, he has worked in energy and climate change for nearly two decades. Nathan supports clients on their net-zero journeys, from disclosure and carbon targets to realizing the transformative business changes necessary to prosper in a decarbonizing world.
Meet Nathan

Nathan grew up with an appreciation for nature and the outdoors.

“I’ve always been into hiking, sailing, and the outdoors. Growing up on a tree nursery in Nova Scotia, I gained an appreciation for the power of nature and the vast potential for renewable resources—wind, solar, tidal, and hydro were all around me.”

The principles of sustainability became part of Nathan’s DNA and proved a guiding force for his study and career choices.

“I’ve always been acutely aware of our collective impact on the environment and the urgency to address climate change. So I studied mechanical engineering, which offered opportunities to make significant and immediate impacts.”

“I read the Kyoto Protocol in university and had the opportunity to attend COP 11 in Montreal in 2005, which really defined my entire career trajectory. It was a real inflection point. I realized the world needed to take a much broader view of energy systems in the context of climate change.”

Nathan and his sons heading out for an afternoon bike ride

“Regarding fossil fuels and climate change, we don’t have an energy problem so much as a carbon problem. After COP 11, I pivoted my career to focus on managing greenhouse gases and climate risks. Europe was doing far more than Canada around climate change, so I moved to the United Kingdom and joined one of the world’s first carbon trading firms—EcoSecurities.”

This experience gave Nathan a global perspective on the issue of climate change as he worked with clients across six continents on their decarbonization initiatives.

After a few years, Nathan returned to Canada to join Deloitte’s Sustainability & Climate Change practice.

“The 2015 Paris Accord ignited the global conversation around climate change and the energy transition. Initially, Canadian firms approached us to calculate their carbon footprint to report on regulatory requirements. Nowadays, we’ve moved far beyond a disclosure conversation. It’s now a transformation discussion: What business and operating models do we need? What are our new products and services? How can we decarbonize our supply chains? And so on...”

“Regarding fossil fuels and climate change, we don’t have an energy problem so much as a carbon problem.”

—Nathan Steeghs

Staying motivated on the climate journey

Nathan sees similarities between society grappling with climate change and navigating progressive agendas such as reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and the need for broader equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workforce.

“It often feels like three steps forward, one step back, or one step forward, three steps back, but, over time, the momentum has shifted in the right direction.”

For many, the energy transition has recently become a hot topic. However, Nathan says plenty of his colleagues have worked in the space for more than 20 years.

“I’ve always had the luxury of having a network of colleagues from previous organizations who have dedicated their careers to addressing climate change and sustainability. The swell of young talent that want a purpose-led career is extremely motivating.”

Client insights on emerging trends

Asked to recommend a climate influencer, Nathan admitted that he often learns more from his clients:

“Because we’re in touch with so many clients from different industries, and the public and private sectors, we often see the emerging trends months before you’ll hear about them from the media. But you must be paying attention to spot the signals.”

Enjoying a day out on the sailboat with his wife (Vancouver, BC)

A multifaceted challenge needs a multidisciplinary solution

“Organizations require many components and partnerships to move the dial on decarbonization and reach net-zero. Often, we’re not addressing a single problem in isolation but examining its root causes and exploring how we link that to a client organization’s broader objectives.”

“For example, a rating agency might ask clients if they have a carbon reduction target. Before committing to one, clients must consider the implications for their organization. What is their road map? What different levers are available for achieving it, including partnerships?”

In place of a simple transactional discussion, committing to a carbon target has broader implications and requires strategic conversations.

“These might range from restructuring the business and potential mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures of assets to new products and service lines. Climate change and sustainability are multifaceted, cross-functional, multidisciplinary fields. Our role is convening the parties and combining the interdisciplinary requirements vital for clients to decarbonize and to navigate the energy transition.”

“…Nowadays, we’ve moved far beyond a disclosure conversation. It’s now a transformation discussion: What business and operating models do we need? What are our new products and services? How can we decarbonize our supply chains? And so on...”

—Nathan Steeghs

Ensuring Canada’s transition to net-zero is fair and inclusive

“We need a fair transition—one that takes care of the most vulnerable and those negatively affected by the transition—if society is to overcome the unforeseen barriers, mobilize the funding, and accelerate at the pace and scale needed.”

Yet Nathan feels the challenges of tackling climate change, including socio-economic effects and the need for workers in carbon-intensive sectors to re-skill, often mask the more significant upside of a net-zero transition.

“We need to highlight the longer-term benefits better, including the investment and job opportunities.”

A once-in-a-generation opportunity

“Canada has a vital role to play as a beacon for the world regarding how to reach net-zero. We have the capabilities: vast nature-based solutions, renewable energy resources, home-grown clean technologies, established financial services, and traditional Indigenous knowledge of sustainable resource management.”

“We can lead the world in decarbonizing our oil and gas, transportation, and manufacturing sectors—not just by piloting solutions, but by showing how these solutions can be scaled and contribute to economic growth and prosperity for Canada.”

Connect with Nathan

Meet the others
We hope you enjoyed finding out a bit more about Nathan. Our sustainability team is always here to help, so please get in touch if you’d like to learn more. To meet other members of the team, continue reading below. We’ll introduce you to someone new every month.
Karen Hamberg
Clean technology industry veteran and changemaker
Geneva Claesson
Geneva Claesson
End-to-end net-zero and nature-positive solution provider
Craig Walter
Unleashing climate infrastructure opportunities