Prominent project management company SNC-Lavalin has released ‘Engineering Net Zero – is Canada on track to meet its 2030 targets’, an analysis of Canada’s ability to meet its interim target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40-45% by 2030, as compared to 2005 levels. It follows the publication of ‘Engineering Net Zero (Canada)’ in 2021, a blueprint showing how Canada could achieve Net Zero by 2050.
The 2030 targets represent an enormous and likely unattainable undertaking, says SNC, without a major shock to existing systems across all economic sectors. As of 2019, Canada had only reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 1.1% compared to 2005 levels. In eight years, the country now targets to reverse a trend that has been building across most sectors – except for the electricity market – for much of the past 15 years.
The report’s highlights include the following commentary:
• While significant improvements have been made in the electricity sector, numerous other sectors have increased their emissions. As of 2019, Canada had reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by only 1.1% since 2005.
- A nationwide, collaborative effort across sectors is needed to accelerate the integration of the technological and socio-economic changes required to blunt the worst impacts of climate change.
- Further electrification, including of transport, oil and gas extraction and refining, industrial manufacturing processes, could allow for some quick wins in the short term, using techno-economically proven technologies.
- Greater efforts are also needed to drive the development of carbon capture and storage facilities and the commercial availability of hydrogen-fuelled products, on a 2050 horizon.
- Government support at all levels is indispensable to drive technological development forward, in addition to further societal and economic stimulus to alter consumer behaviour and fuel technological advancements.
The report highlights the enormous opportunities that lie from embarking on a nation-wide decarbonisation exercise. The report’s main findings:
- Reducing carbon emissions requires a concerted strategy with the provinces that includes replacing fossil fuels with clean energy, increasing non-emitting energy production, developing new technology, and changing behaviours regarding energy consumption.
- As fossil fuel users see a significant increase in their operational costs due to the carbon tax, a shift to alternative or less carbon-intensive energy sources is expected to happen as a matter of commercial incentive.
- A mix of all “zero emissions” power generation technologies will be required for the energy and capacity expansion necessary to electrify all economic sectors. While it is significantly faster to develop wind and solar, large-scale electrical generation facilities such as hydro or nuclear plants must be part of the solution. The required build rate for large-scale hydro and nuclear would be similar to the build rates achieved in the 1970s and 1980s.