By Trista Wood and Warren Mabee
Climate change is one of the most important issues Canada is facing. While greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions do arise from natural processes, the current rapid concentration of these gases in our atmosphere is primarily being driven by human activity. Changes to the climate affect all aspects of the natural environment and have the potential to affect the Canadian economy, infrastructure, energy supply and demand, manufacturing, and services. As a consequence, it is critical that Canada move to curb these emissions.
As a signatory of the Executive summary (UNFCCC), Canada signed onto the Copenhagen Accord (December 2009) thereby committing to reduce its GHG emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. The commitment represents a significant challenge for an expanding economy that is expected to be 31% larger in 2020 than it was in 2005 (Environment Canada 2014). In order to follow through on this commitment the Government of Canada is taking a sector-by-sector approach to GHG regulation and reduction.
Canada’s GHG emissions are largely related to the production and use of energy across the country. A review of all energy-related emissions are provided in the pages that follow, along with projections of future energy use. It is shown that oil and gas, transport, and buildings are the sectors most responsible for our increased emission profile. Growth in industrial and transport energy use will demand significantly more fossil fuel unless policy interventions push us towards ‘greener’ scenarios; using projections from the Trottier Energy Futures Project (TEFP 2016), two such scenarios are explored, one focused on sustainable urban development, and the other on a future where new electricity generation from nuclear sources is constrained. In both of these scenarios, the amount of electricity used in every sector increases dramatically. This suggests that a critical issue of the future will be designing new electricity generation in order to benefit both society and the workers who are engaged in the projects.
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