If There's A Political Will, There's A Way To Meet Emission Targets

The lack of political will to meet emission targets could see more extreme flooding in the future, like what happened the Québec community of Gatineau in 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

It seems like a day doesn’t pass without the release of yet another study that shows human actions will inevitably increase the Earth’s average temperature past a tipping point that will lead to runaway climate change.

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

A new study called the Canadian Energy Outlook - 2050, prepared by Polytechnique Montréal and Pôle e3 at the HEC Montréal business school, suggests current reduction efforts are inadequate to meet these promises. Yet, the study also suggests the targets are far from being out of reach — thanks in part to the rapid decline in the cost of transforming our energy sector to low carbon emission technologies.

Targets won’t be met

The study, based on technical and economic models prepared by the Montréal firm ESMIA, explored five scenarios for the energy system in Canada and each province until 2050. Its conclusion: neither the federal government nor any of the provinces, with the exception of Nova Scotia, has put in place measures that will allow them to meet their respective 2030 or 2050 targets.

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

This means the federal government’s own estimates, which predict Canada would still achieve a reduction of about 10 per cent in GHG emissions by 2030, are overly optimistic.

If There's A Political Will, There's A Way To Meet Emission TargetsA young woman chains herself to a fence during a 2016 protest in Québec over the Trans-Northern pipeline project. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

One of the key findings of this study is a detailed province-by-province analysis of four reduction scenarios that assess the energy trajectories that need to be followed to achieve: (1) provincial targets; (2) federal targets (30 per cent reduction compared to 2005 by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050); (3) international targets (80 per cent compared to 1990 by 2050) and (4) federal targets with the purchase of 20 per cent of GHG emission allowances from California, according to Canada’s National Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in late 2017.

Objectives are possible

The most significant findings of these models is that the most ambitious objectives to reduce GHG emissions are both technically and economically possible.

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

More importantly, this amount is 30 per cent lower than a similar assessment made only three years ago for a scenario of a 70 per cent reduction in GHG emissions. That 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 the prices of solar energy and batteries.

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

Problems in Ontario

In contrast, Ontario appears to have more difficulty transforming its energy system. At Canada’s marginal cost, the province would reduce its emissions by only 70 per cent, suggesting the importance of supporting the development of new green technologies.

If There's A Political Will, There's A Way To Meet Emission TargetsThe oil sands of Fort McMurray, Alta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

To optimize GHG reduction, each province will need to adopt unique solutions that reflect its resources and environment. It’s 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 make it possible to develop integrated strategies, both in the production of energy and in its use.

If the climate objectives for 2030 and 2050 are going to be economically realistic, as shown in this Energy Outlook, the transformation that will be needed is profound. And it won’t succeed without the support of a true transition strategy — which is unfortunately still sorely lacking at all levels of government in Canada.The Conversation

About The Author

Normand Mousseau, Directeur de l’Institut de l’énergie Trottier, Polytechnique Montréal et Professeur de physique, Université de Montréal

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

List Price: $25.00
Sale Price: $25.00 $23.75 You save: $1.25
Product Description:
With the effects of climate change already upon us, the need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions is nothing less than urgent. It’s a daunting challenge, but the technologies and strategies to meet it exist today. A small set of energy policies, designed and implemented well, can put us on the path to a low carbon future. Energy systems are large and complex, so energy policy must be focused and cost-effective. One-size-fits-all approaches simply won’t get the job done. Policymakers need a clear, comprehensive resource that outlines the energy policies that will have the biggest impact on our climate future, and describes how to design these policies well.

Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy is the first such guide, bringing together the latest research and analysis around low carbon energy solutions. Written by Hal Harvey, CEO of the policy firm Energy Innovation, with Robbie Orvis and Jeffrey Rissman of Energy Innovation, Designing Climate Solutions is an accessible resource on lowering carbon emissions for policymakers, activists, philanthropists, and others in the climate and energy community. In Part I, the authors deliver a roadmap for understanding which countries, sectors, and sources produce the greatest amount of greenhouse gas emissions, and give readers the tools to select and design efficient policies for each of these sectors. In Part II, they break down each type of policy, from renewable portfolio standards to carbon pricing, offering key design principles and case studies where each policy has been implemented successfully.

We don’t need to wait for new technologies or strategies to create a low carbon future—and we can’t afford to. Designing Climate Solutions gives professionals the tools they need to select, design, and implement the policies that can put us on the path to a livable climate future.

List Price: $39.99
Sale Price: $39.99 $24.74 You save: $15.25
Product Description:
Research shows that a socially-emotionally supportive setting is the solution to increasing student achievement. The School Climate Solution helps kids and adults master critical social-emotional skills, encourages student leadership, provides effective and compassionate behavior management strategies, and raises academic performance. With dozens of fun and easy-to-do activities and community meeting agendas, this book provides everything you need to create a positive learning environment in any classroom, school, or school community. Based on William Glasser’s Choice Theory and steeped in social-emotional learning, the book shows educators how to engage the whole school community in identifying and celebrating its positive values. For use by principals, teachers, counselors, coaches, or any other school leaders looking to improve classroom climate, the strategies in this book have been tested in schools, and they work. Digital content includes customizable forms from the book.

Price: $18.54
Product Description: For New condition books in our store; You will be the first user. You will be the first to open the book cover. For Used condition books in our store; It shows signs of wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. There are no problems in page content and in the paper. There are no problems except minor faults. All pages and cover are intact , but may have aesthetic issues such as price clipping, nicks, scratches, and scuffs. Pages may include some notes and highlighting. For all our books; Cargo will be delivered in the required time. 100% Satisfaction is Guaranteed!

English Afrikaans Arabic Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Traditional) Dutch Filipino French German Hindi Indonesian Italian Japanese Korean Malay Persian Portuguese Russian Spanish Swahili Swedish Thai Turkish Urdu Vietnamese


Default Image
Passive housing cuts costs – and global warming
by Alex Kirby
Buildings which heat and cool themselves – passive housing – save householders money and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Print Friendly
Solar lamps light up more African nights
by Paul Brown
Solar lamps are shining more brightly in Africa, tackling poverty, ill-health and natural hazards, thanks to Chinese…
Print Friendly
GMO crops could expect a brighter future
by Paul Brown
Genetically modified (GMO) crops remain controversial, but scientists still have faith that they will help both to…
Print Friendly
Planting trees will not slow global warming
by Tim Radford
Nothing, not even the creation of huge plantations of trees to absorb carbon dioxide, is a viable alternative to…
Print Friendly
Green energy tips good for business
by Paul Brown
Sharing energy-saving ideas such as using seawater pumps to heat buildings is helping big charities and businesses cut…
Print Friendly
Bigger isn't better for energy savings
by Inga Vesper
The desire for more spacious cars and houses is cancelling out energy savings made by environmentally friendly…
Print Friendly
Nuclear waste problems start gold rush
by Paul Brown
Staggering sums of money involved in the long-term challenge of solving the world’s nuclear waste problems make it a…


Jay Inslee Tells Hayes That He Wants To Gut The Filibuster To Fight Climate Change
Washington Governor Jay Inslee is running for president on the single issue of climate change and argues that doing…
Causes and Effects of Climate Change
by National Geographic
What causes climate change (also known as global warming)? And what are the effects of climate change? Learn the human…
Extreme Weather and Global Warming
by NASA Goddard
Is the frequency of extreme weather events a sign that global warming is gaining pace and exceeding predictions? Bill…
Thanks to Climate Change, Wet Winters No Match for Drier California Summers
by KPIX CBS SF Bay Area
If the emerald-green hills around Northern California have you thinking recent rains have put a damper on the fire…
Climate Change Is Not One Issue
"Climate change is not one issue," said David Wallace-Wells, author of "The Uninhabitable Earth," but is…
The Heat: Climate change
by CGTN America
Images gathered by NASA show an increase in foliage in China and India. The greening effect is mainly due to ambitious…
No company is doing enough to combat climate change: Jeremy Grantham
by CNBC Television
Jeremy Grantham, co-founder of GMO, on climate change and what needs to be done to combat it.
Power Plants Are POISONING Groundwater All Over America
by The Ring of Fire
According to a new report, 90% of coal-fired power plants across the country have completely contaminated the…


Default Image
Come on, UK weather forecasters – tell it like it is on climate change
by Adam Corner
They have a national reach that most climate campaigners would die for. They are familiar and respected experts on the…
Green New Deal: 6 places already reducing emissions from buildings
Green New Deal: 6 places already reducing emissions from buildings
by David Roberts
One of the elements of the Green New Deal resolution that has caused the most consternation among critics on the right…
Default Image
UK environmentalists target Barclays in fossil fuels campaign
by Matthew Taylor
A UK-wide campaign is being launched to persuade one of the country’s biggest high street banks to stop investing…
Oceanic carbon uptake could falter
Oceanic carbon uptake could falter
by Tim Radford
What does oceanic carbon uptake achieve? Greenhouse gas that sinks below the waves slows global warming a little and…
Britain (Yes, Rainy Britain) Could Run Short of Water by 2050, Official Says
Britain (Yes, Rainy Britain) Could Run Short of Water by 2050, Official Says
by Global Warming & Climate Change
“Climate change plus growth equals an existential threat,” Mr. Bevan said. To avoid severe water shortages, he added,…
Default Image
Record high US temperatures outpace record lows two to one, study finds
by Associated Press
Over the past 20 years, Americans have been twice as likely to sweat through record-breaking heat rather than shiver…
Climate change: Water shortages in England 'within 25 years'
Climate change: Water shortages in England 'within 25 years'
by BBC News - Science & Environment
Image copyright PA Image caption Low water levels at Wayoh Reservoir near Bolton in the UK heatwave in July 2018 Within…
Default Image
Why you'll never meet a white supremacist who cares about climate change
by Rebecca Solnit
As the news of the Christchurch mosque massacre broke and I scoured the news, I came across a map showing that the…