Suppose there is hope to the global pandemic. In that case, fossil fuel use may have peaked in 2019 in Canada and other developed nations. The chances for greater decarbonization will go together with carrying out economic development. At least that is the hope for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and other global organizations. Moreover, it is the Justin Trudeau government’s objective, which has included decarbonization part to be in its pandemic economic stimulus plans.
Last week, at an energy forum, Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Environment Minister, said that COVID had hastened the move to a cleaner economy. He added that leveraging climate action to reconstruct Canada’s post-pandemic economy was simply the most intelligent thing to do. The widespread use of energy is projected to reduce to 6% in Canada in 2020. Therefore, according to a recent study published in Nature, with low fossil fuel use worldwide, greenhouse gas emissions globally could be 4% to 7% lower in 2020 than in 2019.
Less commuting to work, less airplane travel and more virtual meetings are some of the behavioral changes by brought pandemic lockdowns that could become permanent for some individuals. However, with the resumption of economies, it will be business as usual as emissions will also grow. According to the Canadian Energy Regulator, in a new outlook, Canada’s fossil fuel use may have peaked in 2019 when Canada and other nations continue to increase their obligations to decarbonization.
Federal and provincial governments are imposing taxes, regulations and incentives to make the Canadian oil and gas sector reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, they indeed continue to support fossil fuel industries. Because around 28% of Canada’s emissions originate from transportation, 53% of that is from passenger vehicles, even a small reduction in car emissions can significantly affect when multiplied by 34 million.
The federal government is planning to execute a new clean fuel standard, which, according to Wilkinson, is “one of the largest single tools to reduce emissions.” The new standard would reduce GHGs by around 30 million tonnes yearly. It has been a bit of a non-story in B.C., which has had a low-carbon fuel standard for around a decade. To meet Canada’s ambitious net-zero target by 2050, governments and industries will be required to invest in electrification, decarbonization technologies and carbon capture and sequestration on a large scale.
Wilkinson alluded to several B.C. clean-tech companies that were already capitalizing on the drive for more carbon capture. Even as Svante in Burnaby has advanced a fast carbon capture technique that filters CO2 from the emissions of cement, steel, aluminum, fertilizer and hydrogen plants, Carbon Engineering are working toward commercial-scale direct air carbon capture. LNG projects being developed in B.C. will have a reduced emission intensity than most other LNG projects, thanks to upstream electrification, electrifying the liquefaction process, and new methane emission regulations.
According to the IEA, Peter Zebedee, CEO of LNG Canada, stated during last week’s energy forum that LNG’s demand grew 12.5% in 2019 and will triple by 2040. China, India and other fastest-growing economies have been trying to reduce their reliance on coal by switching to natural gas and renewables and are struggling with air pollution. Last year, the IEA confirmed that in a GHG life-cycle analysis, natural gas produces 50% fewer GHG emissions than coal when burned for power, depending on the application. Zebedee said that LNG Canada’s exports to China would produce around 35% to 55% fewer greenhouse gas emissions.