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Canadian CO2 Emissions: A Perspective

Where are Canadian CO2 Emissions Coming From?

I ended up digging a little bit into Canadian CO2 emissions after my last article, and thought that our readers might find it interesting….

This article relies heavily on the Government of Canada publication titled “Canada’s Emissions Trends,” which the government put together as a response to climate change promises in Copenhagen. Interestingly, it projects that we won’t hit our targets.

I went digging through this dusty publication looking for an idea of where Canada needs to make improvements the most. I found some things that surprised me. For instance, the oil & gas sector in Canada emits 50% more CO2 than the entire electricity sector. In fact, the O&G sector emits 22% of all CO2 emissions in Canada, but only produces 7% of our GDP. Transportation also produces 50% more CO2 than the electricity sector, and barely outshines the O&G sector to be the single largest emitter in Canada. That’s somewhat surprising to me…. I figured our electricity generator to be the largest emitter, like has traditionally been the case in the US, with transportation close behind.

  • A Recap by Sector:
  • Transportation:  166 MT (megatons)
  • Oil and gas:  154 MT
  • Electricity:  99 MT
  • Buildings:  79 MT
  • Industry:  75 MT
  • Agriculture:  69 MT
  • Waste & Other:  50 MT

Where should we focus?

Clearly, the things we should focus on to hit our Copenhagen goals are transportation and the oil & gas sector.

The transportation sector is a no brainer: Deliver stronger incentives for electric vehicles. A federal program for EVs and charging infrastructure would go a long way towards reducing this beast. We should follow Norway’s lead, and we should be able to replicate their success! Electric sales were 14% of new car sales in the first 10 months of 2014. If we provided a $10,000 subsidy to each new electric car sold or leased and hit 12% market penetration, this would cost the country roughly $2 billion. Instead of a regressive tax break that we just got, we could spend the $2 billion on this program, and over the next 6 years, it would cut emissions by a startling 40–50 MT. That’s nearly 30% of overall emissions from this sector.

As for the oil & gas sector, the IISD released a report last year on the effectiveness of regulation on this sector. The most aggressive proposal they have is what they call a 40/40 plan. This means they they will ask for a 40% emissions reduction from the industry, and fine them $40 for every ton of CO2 they emit that’s over the 60% permitted amount. They predict this would result in a 7 MT reduction directly from the industry, 21 MT of reduction from “Low Cost Domestic Reductions,” and 15 MT reductions as a result of funding a tech fund. The idea is that the extra CO2 emitted will go into a fund that will pay for emissions reductions in other sectors, and will help develop technology that will trigger emissions reductions.

This results in an overall savings of 42 MT, at a cost of around $0.49 per barrel. That’s, honestly, a pretty pathetic investment for a massive gain. This is clearly an industry that needs regulated…. Hopefully our next federal government will make big inroads there.

When will we make these efforts?

Together, these two relatively small and inexpensive changes would result in a savings of nearly 90 MT, enough for us to hit our Copenhagen Climate Change promises.

Will we do these? Unfortunately, probably not. Canadians are going to have to work together to make global warming an election issue. We need to send a clear message to our politicians that climate change is a pressing issue, that there are steps we can take now cost effectively, and that we won’t stand for anything else.

Come on, Canada. If we want our hockey rinks to survive in 2020, we’re going to need to put the effort in now! We can do this, but only if we pull together!

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is an EV evangelist, and general automotive enthusiast. His engineering background means he tends to nerd out a bit on the numbers. He focuses primarily on battery technology, wind power, and electric vehicles. If you can't find him running the numbers, or writing, you might find him lifting weights somewhere!


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