Oh, the bright shining lies.
When it comes to energy and climate change the political rhetoric promises four great and positive happenings.
New oil and gas infrastructure will fund Canada’s energy transition.
Emissions will be conquered by technologies that bury carbon in the ground at great cost or don’t yet exist.
Canada will meet all of its climate change goals and ramp up oil and gas production at the same time.
The energy transition will be effortless and orderly because there is lots of low hanging fruit to pick.
These national assumptions, repeated daily by politicians and the media like some weird liturgy, give David Hughes, Canada’s foremost energy analyst, a headache.
The earth scientist and former researcher for National Resources Canada has been crunching inconvenient energy numbers for decades with a frightful reliability. His new report, Canada’s Energy Sector, published by the Corporate Mapping Project and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives this week, shatters many illusions.
As a committed oil-exporting nation, Canada still hasn’t grasped some important physical realities, says Hughes.
Rising emissions mean the target is receding
Let’s start with some emission truths. Canada has never met a single target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It stands out internationally as a laggard. At the end of 2019 it had reduced its GHG by just 1.2 per cent from 2005 levels.
Two G7 nations have jacked up emissions since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2016: Canada is the worst at 3.3 per cent followed by the United States at 0.6 per cent.
In contrast, Italy reduced emissions by 4.4 per cent and Germany by 10.8 per cent.
In its annual energy report JP Morgan, no environmental champion, noted, “To keep global emissions flat, the developed world would need to reduce emissions by ~4 per cent per year, which is five to six times faster than the current pace.”
Canada, a petro state, is not doing that. Instead emissions keep growing in almost every major sector including buildings, transportation and oil and gas production.
Oil and gas production and exports now account for 26 per cent of emissions. That’s more than any other industrial sector except for transportation.
To date, only one economic sector in Canada has actually cut emissions significantly between 2005 and 2019 and that’s the electricity sector, and all mainly due to the phasing out of coal.