The federal government maintains that growing oil and gas production and meeting emissions-reduction targets are mutually compatible goals. It offers the “Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change” (pan-Canadian framework) as a plan to meet 2030 targets, and the aforementioned mid-century strategy to meet 2050 targets.
The pan-Canadian framework provides a number of initiatives for reducing emissions, but it does not quantify the impact of each. Furthermore, it assumes an unspecified amount of reductions will be met with purchases of “international cap and trade credits” and appears to have double-counted potential reductions from announced measures as of November 1, 2016. For example, the ECCC reference case projection of near-zero emissions reductions by 2030 includes “measures taken by federal, provincial and territorial governments as of November 1st, 2016,” yet the pan-Canadian framework projects 89 megatonnes of reductions from the ECCC projection from “announced measures as of November 1st, 2016” along with buying emissions credits. The pan-Canadian framework also appears to have double-counted the impact of the coal phase-out, given that it was already included in the ECCC reference case projection.
In contrast to the pan-Canadian framework, the mid-century strategy provides more detail on the projections of energy consumption by fuel in 2050. The six scenarios offered provide a range of projections, the average of which is illustrated in Table ES1.
Three of the six scenarios in the mid-century strategy require purchases of carbon credits to make up 15% of the 2050 reduction, and two of them only achieve a 67% reduction by 2050. On average, electricity would provide 53% of delivered energy in 2050, compared to 17% at present, through a 152% ramp-up in total generation—meaning 47% of delivered energy would have to come from other sources. New generation capacity would cost in the order of $1.45 trillion. These scenarios illustrate well the scale of the problem. The prospect of building dozens of new nuclear reactors and dozens of new large-scale hydropower dams seems highly unlikely, for environmental, economic and, in the case of nuclear, fuel-supply and waste-disposal reasons.
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