Evolution of GHG emissions in net-zero scenarios


As discussed throughout this report, the challenge of reaching net-zero emissions requires not only reducing emissions to their lowest possible levels, but also compensating for remaining emissions that are too costly to eliminate. The latter includes specific applications where decarbonization is very costly or where technology is not yet available, but where demand is not projected to be eliminated. The discussion in this chapter thus focuses on the implications of the transformations needed to reach net-zero.

Unlike the previous edition of this Outlook, this edition addresses emissions from agriculture, waste and industrial processes, as well as fugitive emissions from the oil and gas production sector.


  • Current federal and provincial policies are grossly insufficient to turn the trend in GHG emissions.
  • Even including a carbon price of $170/tonne by 2030, total emissions are projected to decrease by 9% between 2016 and 2030 (63 MtCO2e); measured from the 2005 level (739 MtCO2e vs. 705 MtCO2e for 2016), this corresponds to a 13% reduction, considerably less than the 40%-45% federal target, let alone the previous one of 30%.
  • Should the proposed clean fuel standard come into force, it would at best add an additional 19 MtCO2e, bringing total reduction to 12% with respect to 2016 and to only 16% with respect to 2005.
  • Reaching 30% GHG reduction by 2030 will first and foremost require transformations on the industrial front rather than citizen actions, including the decarbonization of industrial processes, a significant reduction in oil and gas production, and aggressive reductions in fugitive emissions.
  • Net-zero scenarios show a significant quantity of remaining emissions from all sectors combined (between 155 and 167 MtCO2e annually), underscoring the essential role of carbon capture and storage (CCS), including direct air capture (DAC), to help compensate.