Technology and Policy Options for a Low-Emission Energy System in Canada

Council of Canadian Academies for Magna International Inc.

[CBC] Canada could drastically cut its greenhouse gas emissions and meet international climate change commitments using existing commercially available technologies and policies that have been proven to work, a new report says…

Carbon-emitting coal, oil and gas currently account for 72 per cent of Canada’s energy supply, says a report commissioned by Canadian auto parts manufacturer Magna International Inc. and released today by the Council of Canadian Academies.

But the report suggests that if the federal government and provincial governments have the will to cut their emissions significantly, the tools they need already exist.

“We already have the commercial technologies to get where we want to go,” said Mark Jaccard, a professor at the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University and one of the eight members of the expert scientific panel that prepared the report.

It suggests, for example:

  • There are low-carbon alternatives to the coal-fired power plants that are still in use in several provinces, such as nuclear and hydroelectricity, and many provinces like Ontario have already shown it’s possible to eliminate coal.
  • Electric vehicle technology and biofuels could drastically reduce emissions in the transportation sector. “If everybody tomorrow switched to buying plug-in hybrid electric cars, 10 years from now use of gasoline would be reduced 85 per cent,” Jaccard said. “And that final 15 per cent could be produced by ethanol in environmentally sound ways. Or biodiesel.”
  • Industries heavily reliant on fossil fuels could make use of carbon capture technology to bury emissions instead of releasing them into the atmosphere. While there have been some questions about whether this technology is ready to be used on an industrial scale, Jaccard says Norway has been using it on that scale for 20 years. “It’s a proven technology.”

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