Ottawa’s federal government targets to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Net-zero means either no emissions are produced or made are absorbed by nature or technology, so no more are added to the atmosphere. However, the Canada Energy Regulator said Tuesday reaching net-zero emissions over the next 30 years was not easy and would require a much more aggressive transition away from oil and gas. The report projects that oil and gas would still make up nearly two-thirds of energy sources three decades from now despite having more policies to emissions than are currently in place. Hence. Achieving net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 would require an accelerated pace of transition away from fossil fuels.

There are two potential scenarios for energy use in Canada as per the Canada Energy Regulator report. One involves using only climate policies while the other involves an “evolving scenario.” In the evolving policy scenario, the report projects electricity will generate more than one-quarter of Canadian energy by 2050 and that fossil fuels will provide about 10 percent of that. On the other hand, crude oil and natural gas production will grow between 17 and 18 percent by 2039 but will then start dropping seven or eight percent by 2050. The report further suggests the current carbon tax should stop rising in 2022 at $50 per tonne of emissions produced. In the “evolving scenario,” oil and gas demand will decrease by 35 percent by 2050 but will still account for 64 percent of all energy used.

Darren Christie, the chief economist at the Canada Energy Regulator, said COVID-19 added much more uncertainty to this year’s projections because fuel consumption and production fell substantially during the pandemic restrictions. Besides, he said it’s also not entirely clear how, or if, the country’s work and commuting habits would return to the pre-pandemic normal, which changed their starting point. Christie said the overall energy use in Canada was down six percent, and oil production was down about seven percent due to the pandemic.

The federal government targets that all passenger vehicles sold will be electric by 2050; however, the report projects that only half of the passenger vehicles sold will be electric by 2050, even under the evolving scenario. The project suggests that the government has to pick up electric vehicles’ pace to meet its goal.

Regulator CEO Gitane De Silva said in an interview, the report’s goal wasn’t to comment on an existing policy but to paint a picture of where things could go using a variety of assumptions. He said they hoped that that information would help inform the policy process in the future.


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