Issue targets: if there is a will (policy), there is a path


This article was originally published in The Conversation, an independent and non-profit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. The disclosure information is available on the original website.

Author: Normand Mousseau, Director of the Institut de l'Energie Trottier, Polytechnic of Montreal and Professor of Physics, University of Montreal

It seems that one day does not pass without the release of yet another study that shows that human actions will inevitably raise the Earth's average temperature, surpassing a critical point that will lead to uncontrolled climate change.

This increase is occurring despite the many promises of climate policy by governments around the world. Canada, like most countries, has ambitious climate targets: an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.

A new study called Canadian Energy Outlook – 2050, prepared by Polytechnique Montreal and Pole e3 at HEC Montreal Business School, suggests that current reduction efforts are inadequate to deliver on these promises. However, the study also suggests that targets are far from out of reach – in part because of the rapid decline in the cost of transforming our energy sector into low-carbon technologies.

Goals will not be met

The study, based on the technical and economic models developed by the Montreal-based company ESMIA, explored five scenarios for the energy system in Canada and each province by 2050. Its conclusion: neither the federal government nor any of the provinces, with the exception of Nova Scotia. , has implemented measures that will enable them to achieve their 2030 or 2050 objectives.

While Canada has committed to a 30% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 compared to 2005, the study's modeling suggests that even including any existing and announced federal and provincial measures, current emissions will remain constant and will even increase by 10% by 2050..

This means that the federal government's own estimates, which predict that Canada would still achieve a 10% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, are overly optimistic.

One of the main conclusions of this study is a detailed provincial-by-province analysis of four reduction scenarios that evaluate the energy trajectories that need to be followed to achieve: (1) provincial goals; (2) federal targets (reduction of 30% compared to 2005 by 2030 and 80% by 2050); (3) international targets (80 percent compared to 1990 through 2050), and (4) federal targets for the purchase of 20 percent of California's GHG emissions allowances, according to Canada's National Report to the Convention- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. end of 2017.

Objectives are possible

The most significant findings of these models are that the more ambitious targets for reducing GHG emissions are technically and economically feasible.

In fact, the marginal cost of the last equivalent ton of CO2 eliminated in 2050 to meet international targets is estimated at about $ 1,000. While this cost may seem high compared to today's carbon price (about $ 20 per tonne in the federal program), it is comparable to the cost of reducing emissions from programs managed by the Green Fund in Quebec.

More importantly, this figure is 30% lower than a similar assessment made just three years ago for a scenario of 70% reduction in GHG emissions. This assessment projected a marginal cost of $ 1,400 per tonne of CO2 equivalent. The difference is mainly due to the speed of technological changes in the energy sector and the fall in prices of solar energy and batteries.

Analysis of the impact of these goals on the provinces also reveals unexpected trends. For example, although Saskatchewan now opposes a carbon price, by 2050 the province would not have to pay more than the rest of Canada to meet national targets. Models show that Saskatchewan could reduce its emissions by up to 90% by 2050, while Canada as a whole could reduce them by 80%.

Problems in Ontario

In contrast, Ontario seems to have a harder time transforming its energy system. In Canada's marginal cost, the province would reduce its emissions by only 70%, suggesting the importance of supporting the development of new green technologies.

To optimize GHG reduction, each province will need to adopt unique solutions that reflect its resources and environment. It is also essential for all levels of government – from municipal to provincial to federal to provincial – to adopt a collaborative approach based on science and best practices.

This approach should allow the development of integrated strategies, both in energy production and in its use.

If the climate goals for 2030 and 2050 are economically realistic, as shown in this Energy Outlook, the transformation that will be needed is profound. And it will not succeed without the support of a real transition strategy – which, unfortunately, is still lacking at all levels of government in Canada.

This article has been republished in The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. The disclosure information is available on the original website. Read the original article: https: // theconversation


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