The world is moving away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy and it’s as real as it is imperative – there is no other way to achieve our national and international climate commitments. Here in Canada it’s crucial that we design this transition in a way that ensures the best possible outcomes for the climate, our workforce, competitiveness, and communities. Today, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr released the Generation Energy report that provides a roadmap for this transition.
I helped draft the report along with 13 other cross-sectoral members of the Generation Energy Council. Our focus was national and generational: What should Canada’s energy future look like in 25 years and how do we get there? While Canada-wide in scope, the report clearly recognizes the important role of urban action and aligns with The Atmospheric Fund’s work and priorities, especially energy efficiency, electrification of buildings and transportation, and the switch to renewable energy sources.
The Generation Energy Council’s report sets out four pathways to Canada’s sustainable low-carbon future — energy efficiency, clean power, renewable fuels and cleaner oil and gas – and one key pathfinding relationship with Indigenous Peoples.
Wasting Less Energy: Multiplying the pace of energy efficiency gains forms the backbone of the Generation Energy strategy. Reducing energy waste isn’t just good for our shared climate – getting us one-third of the way to our Paris emissions commitment – it also saves money and creates jobs. The Atmospheric Fund (TAF) is already very active in this area: Our TowerWise retrofit program shows how we can make multi-residential vastly more energy efficient in a profitable way.
Switching to Clean Power: With abundant hydro power and other clean electricity sources, Canada has a head start on making the transition to a zero-carbon electricity grid. However, we need to grow clean power and electrify home heating systems, transportation, and industrial processes to get off fossil fuels. TAF’s work in areas such as heat pumps and electric mobility tie directly into this pathway.
Using More Renewable Fuels: In a generation there will still be requirements for liquid and gas fuels, which we can offset by boosting the use of renewable fuels. That means expanding Canada’s capacity to produce and use renewable fuels, for example biofuels and biogas from plants and waste. TAF’s work on a new federal clean fuels standard and investments in renewable natural gas can help accelerate this part of the transition.
Producing Cleaner Oil and Gas: The transition to a low-carbon economy won’t happen overnight and, although significantly reduced, fossil fuels will be part of our energy mix in a generation. But steps to shrink the carbon footprint of oil and gas production, including reducing methane leakage, more energy efficient processes, and technological innovation, form a key part of the Generation Energy strategy.
The Generation Energy Council included colleagues from Clean Energy Canada, MaRS Advanced Energy Centre, and Dunsky Energy Consulting, representatives from the renewable energy, cleantech and electric vehicle companies, the oil and gas sector, a utility, and Indigenous communities. Appointed by Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, the Council was formed in December 2017 on the heels of the Generation Energy Forum. The event, at which I represented TAF, brought together more than 600 experts and stakeholders from across Canada.
The report comes at a time when federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments need to come to together to develop energy policies and programs to achieve our shared economic, social and environmental objectives. Together with my colleagues, I hope that the Council report will help shape Canada’s energy future for the next generation.