Canada's energy sector and economy must not slip behind peers

Report urges action to ensure that Canada remains competitive against US, Europe, and China

Canada's energy sector and economy must not slip behind peers
Steve Randall

The transition to a net-zero economy is one of the biggest ever challenges for the world and Canada cannot slip behind its peers.

A new report from the non-partisan Canadian Institute for Climate Choices is urging policymakers and business leaders to scale-up solutions that are currently available while navigating “unavoidable uncertainty.”

The report looks in depth at how Canada can achieve net zero by 2050 and gain advantages by doing so.

But it warns that other countries could forge ahead including the US, with renewed commitments to climate change measures under the Biden administration.

Kathy Bardswick, the Institute’s president, says that reducing emissions to net zero won’t be easy but is doable.

“For Canada to prosper on the path to net zero, governments and private sector leaders need to navigate complex changes to our policy and energy landscapes, while acting decisively on the solutions and insight available today,” she said. “Canada has significant advantages compared to our peers, but as technological disruptions and global markets shift the ground beneath us, decision makers will need to manage uncertainty while adapting to seize emerging opportunities."

The report suggests a two-pronged approach that embraces ‘safe bets’ that are already commercially available such as electric vehicles, heat pumps in buildings, and smart grids; as well as backing riskier future solutions such as advanced biofuels, zero-emissions hydrogen, and some types of engineered negative emission technologies that are not yet commercially available.

“Canada will need to spread its bets by investing in a portfolio of wild card technologies, to increase the odds that some of these solutions will come through when we need them," said Jason Dion, the Institute’s mitigation research director.

Keep pace or risk competitiveness

The Institute says that Canada must ensure that its energy system and economy keep pace with others such as Europe and China in the move to net zero.

If they do not, then competitiveness will be at risk with market share declining.

At the same time, both consumers and investors will increasingly put pressure on companies that are weakening the drive to net zero.

"Uncertainty comes with the territory on Canada's path to net zero—but that's no reason to delay,” said Jason Dion, Mitigation Research Director, Canadian Institute for Climate Choices. “Canada has every advantage, and little risk, in rapidly scaling up these solutions. At the same time,