Renewable energy and carbon pricing

 This is a summary of Dr. Warren Mabee's, Queens University, talk at the Cap and trade workshop put on by Hastings Stewardship Council in March 2017. 

 

Although there have been lots of plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada none have workedThe only time there was a reduction was when there was a recession, and the economy declined. Certainly not on a Canada-wide scale. A couple of the provinces are making progress. We are not on track. Plans have lacked teeth, lacked regulation and lacked incentive’ The One Tonne Challenge was a terrific idea which didn’t go anywhere.

We are supposed to get to 17 % below 2005 levels by 2020, but no one believes that is possible now.  We are supposed to go 30% below 2005 by 2030 and be carbon neutral by the end of the century. The federal environment minister is talking about an interim figure of 80% by 2050.

Greening of electricity is the easiest challenge. Everything else is really hard. Home heating is incredibly difficult We don’t have good alternatives to propane and natural gas.

Canada is emitting 730 megatonnes of Carbon dioxide per year. Of this, a quarter comes from the oil and gas industry. Transportation is high and so is building. High-rise glass buildings are very energy inefficient. Cutting coal has a very short term effect.

How are emissions changing?

Emissions from heavy transport are growing by 30 per cent, as there is no significant development in rail freight. Buildings are going up by 20 per cent.  Small houses are built to very high standards, but there are terrible standards for high-rise which are often all glass with no insulation. Emissions from light transport i.e. cars are growing faster than population growth. The emissions from waste are not going up as fast as population growth. Agriculture is flat as land is coming out of agriculture to development.  Electricity production going down it is the only part that is on track. It is a huge problem

A lot of different technologies are being explored, but research needs to be co-ordinated. There needs to be investment in research. Monies for a cap and trade program need to be put into innovation,

Bioproducts to help green the oil sands is a priority, as is finding different fuels for heavy duty trucks and light duty vehicles.

Design and conservation will cut the need for heating fuels. We need to switch to renewable electricity for moving people. Moving from ethanol to electricity from renewable sources for vehicles is a priority.

There is a broad range of bioproducts under consideration with an industry focus but not regarding a Green House Gas reduction strategy. There needs to be policy to link the components. Many of these bioproducts are products of agriculture and forestry. [One needs to look at the GHG emissions related to producing these products.] There is no concentrated research and development focused onfinding a heavy duty fuel replacement

Western Canada is using carbon taxes whereas Eastern Canada is using cap and trade. There are many benefits to moving to a carbon neutral economy; shifting away from natural gas and fossil fuels to biomass and other renewables for the production of electricity.

Cap and trade should produce capital investment to deliver change, rather than subsidize unrelated existing programs or reducing taxes.