An 80% Carbon Reduction: It’s Not Just Business as Usual

An 80% Carbon Reduction: It’s Not Just Business as Usual

An 80% reduction in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions is achievable by 2050, according to the Trottier Energy Futures Project (TEFP)’s review of low-carbon scenario research from eight industrialized countries.

But the report, Low-Carbon Energy Futures: A Review of National Scenarios, shows that an 80% reduction is also transformative, requiring us to use energy and organize our economy in new and different ways.

The study captures key features, similarities, and differences in low-carbon energy scenarios produced in Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In all eight countries, deep GHG emission reductions relied on four types of changes:

  • Major improvements in energy efficiency
  • Greater reliance on electricity for heating, personal transportation, and some industrial processes
  • A transition to low- or zero-carbon electricity sources
  • Wider use of biofuels.

A Boom in Clean Energy Technologies

The Trottier Project undertook the National Scenarios research to make sure its own analysis and modeling was grounded in the best available work on low-carbon energy futures for wealthy, industrialized, largely urbanized countries like Canada.

That meant relying on the relatively thin body of research that goes beyond projections or wish lists of the low-carbon options that might be feasible by 2050: The studies were all based on long-range, quantitative scenarios that placed their analysis in the context of other desirable features of a future energy system, like resilience, sustainability, and economic efficiency.

The scenarios were all plausible, but they relied on levels and rates of new technology deployment that were larger than historical experience. To reach 80% by 2050, Canada would need a boom in clean energy technologies and low-energy practices on a par with the post-Second World War boom in fossil fuel consumption.

No one ever said it would be easy. But the scenarios show that an 80% GHG reduction is doable, and Canada has access to the same technologies and techniques that drove the eight national scenarios.

Which means the challenge for policy-makers and investors, designers and front-line practitioners is to push those options as far as they’ll go. The National Scenarios report gives us plenty of impetus and all the rationale we need to get started.

Click here to download a copy of Low-Carbon Energy Futures: A Review of National Scenarios.

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