Net zero report from the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices

October 30, 2021  |  Charles Lin

Photo by Bernd Klutsch on Unsplash

Photo by Bernd Klutsch on Unsplash

In February 2021, the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (CICC) released the report “Canada’s Net Zero Future”. We summarize here the key points.

CICC resources, including the full report and a summary report, are accessible here.

What is the CICC?

CICC is an institute for research and analysis of climate policy in Canada. Created in 2020 and funded by the Canadian federal government, it is a non-partisan and independently governed organization. It brings together experts to undertake research and analysis and engages stakeholders to clarify the climate challenges and policy choices for Canada.

What does the report say?

The report provides an analysis of Canada’s options to reach net zero by 2050, and does not recommend any specific path to achieve this goal. The report also discusses drivers within and outside of Canada’s control, and the conditions that are likely to influence success.

To prepare the report, CICC examined more than 60 scenarios to reach net zero by 2050 and conducted additional research and consultation. The report advances two types of technology solutions to help Canada reach net zero: “safe bets” and “wild cards”.

  • Safe bets are already proven technologies ready to scale up, such as improving energy efficiency, use of non-emitting electricity, and adoption of electric vehicles and heat pumps. They could provide at least two-thirds of the emission reductions needed to meet Canada’s 2030 target. Governments at all levels should build on existing policies, such as carbon pricing and flexible regulations, to create incentives for deployment of safe bet solutions.
  • Wild card are emerging technologies that are not yet commercially available, such as advanced biofuels, zero-emission hydrogen, and some engineered negative emission technologies. They are complementary to safe bets, and not a substitute. Policies that increase the viability of these solutions are needed, such as research and development, pilot studies, international collaboration, and tax incentives. Viable technologies could provide up to two-thirds of Canada’s emissions reduction by 2050, and present export opportunities as well.

The transition to net zero will drive significant changes in Canada’s economy and energy systems. Governments needs to ensure the transition is fair and inclusive for all Canadians. Some of the changes will be driven by factors outside Canada’s control, such as international climate policies and global oil demand. Canada needs to take immediate action to develop safe bet and wild card technologies and policies for their deployment, and manage the risks and uncertainties.

Why is the report important?

The report provides a framework for governments and Canadians to better understand the choices to reach net zero and to take action. Since its publication in February 2021, the Liberal government was re-elected in the September 2021 federal election, and will continue implementation of its climate initiatives. These include the carbon pricing that will rise to $170 per tonne by 2030, consistent with deployment of safe bets. Another initiative is the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, passed by the Canadian Senate in June 2021, which holds the federal government accountable in its commitment to reach net zero by 2050. These initiatives are important markers in Canada’s pathway to reach net zero. Canadians all have a stake in this journey to reduce emissions – please stay tuned.

Charles Lin

Charles is a retired atmospheric scientist based in Toronto. He stays busy as founder and lead of ImpactNetZero, keeping healthy in mind and body, and reading stories to his two grandchildren.

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