Canada 'Needs Broad Mix to Hit Net Zero': Research
Canada needs to advance a mix of “safe bet” and “wildcard” solutions if it is to achieve its net zero aspirations by 2050, according to a new report published February 8 by the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices.
At least two-thirds of the emission reductions required by Canada to reach its 2030 targets under the Paris Agreement can be achieved from “safe bet” investments in commercially-available, cost-effective technologies like electric vehicles, heat pumps in buildings and point source, or highly concentrated, carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS).
“Canadian businesses, governments and households must massively scale up these solutions to achieve Canada’s 2030 and 2050 climate commitments,” the institute says. “This will require creating incentives through increasingly stringent policy.”
But getting to net zero will also require what the institute calls “wild card” solutions: high-risk, high-reward technologies such as advanced biofuels, green hydrogen and “engineered negative emission technologies” like direct air carbon capture and unconcentrated CCUS that aren’t yet commercially available.
“Wild cards have the potential to fundamentally change Canada’s path to net zero, and action is required now to ensure these solutions are ready when Canada needs them,” the report says. “Yet wild cards should be handled with careful attention to risk and uncertainty, as betting on the wrong pathway could jeopardise Canada’s net zero efforts.”
And it is these wild card solutions, the report says, that will help determine the future of the Canadian oil and gas industry – which the report characterises as “precarious”.
Future Canadian oil and gas production, it says, will depend largely on global forces – increasing electric vehicle sales or more robust climate policy in other countries.
But even if global energy commodity prices were to rise and stay high, a number of other conditions and outcomes would need to emerge for Canadian oil and gas production to remain consistent with net zero.
“The vulnerability of the Canadian oil and gas sector to larger, uncertain global and market forces underscores the need for oil-producing regions to diversify their economies,” the report says. “Many of the sectors critical to the net zero transition present opportunities to Canada’s oil-producing regions and call on their existing resources, skills, and know-how, including hydrogen, biofuels, and non-emitting electricity, to name a few.”