Reaching net-zero emissions requires profound transformations to all sectors of activity, including a transition in the Canadian energy system. This outlook aims to promote a better understanding of what is happening today and, building from this, to examine how we can forge tomorrow’s Canada. To this end, the explored scenarios produce results that are discussed with several overarching object- ives in mind:
- Identify possible pathways to reach net-zero targets with differ- ent timescales and different choices that can be made to reach those targets. These pathways cut across Canada’s energy sys- tem as well as other activities specific to certain sectors such as industrial processes and agriculture. Analyzing how the dif- ferent pathways affect them is essential to understand the im- plications of the energy transition that will extend over the decades to come, and to highlight some of the choices that Canadians contemplate and the potential they hold for improv- ing their quality of life in conjunction with the transition.
- Ensure a thorough discussion of cross-provincial variations within these pathways. Keeping provincial variation in mind is crucial for at least two reasons in this context:
- The importance of political efforts to bring about emission reductions varies quite substantially across provinces, based on differences in the structure of their economies, the size of the population and its spread among rural and urban regions, as well as the preferences, values and ideol- ogies that prevail in their population and political class.
- Furthermore, these differences occur in the context of a federation, where a significant portion of jurisdiction for energy matters lies with the provinces. While this situation complicates national initiatives to coordinate emission re- duction efforts and transform the economy, it also points to the possibility that thinking in national terms may lead to a more efficient distribution of the transition costs.
- Provide an extended analysis of the main aspects of reaching net-zero, as opposed to merely reducing emissions. This in- cludes key families of technologies to transform energy sys- tems, the capture of some carbon emissions, and how to treat the special case of the industrial sector.
The CEO2021 is not a crystal ball: it does not predict the future. It instead explores cost-optimal pathways, as measured mainly from the energy system’s perspective, in response to external constraints such as the carbon tax or GHG emission ceilings. Modelling leaves aside questions that are essential to a society, including equity, health, education and more.