Fast-tracking Canada’s energy transition
Canadians overwhelmingly support a quick transition to efficient, zero-emissions energy. But while we want this future, we’re less certain about the choices and trade-offs—and we don’t always agree on where to focus our efforts.
Clean Power Pathways is a three-year collaboration project that will deliver choices for pathways to diversify our energy mix and meet energy and climate goals.
Perhaps the most dangerous misconception about the climate crisis is that we have to lower our emissions. Because that is far from enough. Our emissions have to stop if we are to stay below 1.5/2 C warming.
Growing a shared vision of our energy future
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Research, policy and engagement
To drive down carbon pollution from Canada’s energy system, we need to increase energy efficiency, accelerate renewable energy and electrify as much as possible. With our research partners from the universities of Victoria and Regina, we’re connecting modelling research, policy solutions and engagement at national and municipal levels to explore the most effective approaches to meet our climate goals through clean power.
Advancing Clean Power Policy Solutions through Modelling, Research and Engagement
David Suzuki Foundation
Canada's Electricity System Decarbonization Pathways: A multi-model multi-jurisdiction approach
Dr. Madeleine McPherson, University of Victoria
Municipal Energy Futures Project: A case study of Regina, Saskatchewan
Dr. Brett Dolter, University of Regina
Zeroing in on emissions
The Zeroing in on Emissions: Charting Canada’s Clean Power Pathways study (also available in French) identifies ten strategies and approaches that experts agree will be essential to fast-track Canada’s decarbonization efforts. This review of decarbonization studies and models is a litmus test for effective climate plans that can reduce emissions to near zero by 2050.
Canada’s energy transition
Scientists warn that we must act now to cut carbon pollution.
Canada is warming at twice the global average rate — higher in the North — emphasizing the urgent need to examine the opportunities to meet our emissions targets and commitments under the Paris Agreement. To avoid more than 1.5 C of temperature rise, the IPPC reports that CO2 emissions must reach zero by 2050.
Canadians overwhelmingly support a quick transition to energy systems that don’t pollute the air, environment and climate. We want to shift to renewable energy to power our vehicles, homes, businesses and communities.
Accelerating renewable energy and using clean electricity instead of fossil fuels are central to Canada’s efforts to become carbon-neutral by mid-century. Clean energy can be produced with zero operational emissions, close to where it is needed. If done right, it will have the support and involvement of local communities. Clean energy provides a wide array of services, quietly, cleanly and efficiently.
Talking Transition: Shaping Canada’s Clean Power Pathways captures insights from more than 150 energy experts, as well as the views of Canadians from recent engagement efforts, polls and focus groups, on the acceptability of energy choices for reaching zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. The experts agree that renewable, distributed technologies are more likely to be acceptable sources of low-carbon power than technologies such as nuclear, large hydro and carbon capture and storage.
It offers insights for policy-makers as they consider investments in the low-carbon infrastructure that is needed for decarbonization, electrification and a green recovery in Canada. The report includes three appendices:
Clean electricity needed
Dialling down the greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation until they reach zero means replacing fossil fuel power generation with clean electricity sources like wind and solar. As carbon pollution is removed from grids, clean electricity will replace fossil fuels to power a growing share of our economy.
Accelerate clean power
Much of Canada’s power is already from non-emitting sources like hydro, wind and solar, and we have enormous untapped clean energy resources to draw on. But we aren’t maximizing our clean energy potential to meet climate goals because we’re not yet on the pathway to get there.
Electrify just about everything
Electricity powered by renewable sources is Canada’s cleanest energy source, but as of 2016, it only powered about 20 per cent of our energy needs. Using clean electricity instead of fossil fuels to power our communities and industry will play a major role in cutting climate pollution.
Upgrade the grid to support clean power
We need to invest in energy storage, smart grids and better transmission and distribution systems to accelerate clean power. Canada can leverage its hydro resources to store clean power to make it available when needed.
Photo: Patricia Lightburn
Bring in more renewable energy
Build a higher-capacity energy transmission system that better connects regions to wind, solar, run-of-river and other renewable energy sources. And, consider distributed renewable energy with rooftop solar photovoltaics and energy storage systems for businesses and homes.
Read our reports
Talking Transition: Shaping Canada’s Clean Power Pathways
The report captures opinions from 150 energy experts, and references recent summaries of attitudes from Canadians, on reaching zero carbon emissions by 2050. The results offer valuable insight into the perspectives of those stakeholders who are likely to play important roles in realizing a clean power future in Canada.
Zeroing in on Emissions: Canada’s Clean Power Pathways – A Review
How can we transition Canada’s energy system at a scope, scale and speed commensurate with the scientific consensus on climate breakdown? This report highlights ten technically feasible strategies, actions and considerations.
Objectif zéro émission – Feuille de route de la transition énergétique du Canada – Une revue
Le présent rapport jette les bases d’un examen approfondi des modèles et des études qui explorent la décarbonisation au Canada et dans le monde entier. Il met en lumière dix stratégies, mesures et considérations qui, selon un large éventail d’experts, seront au cœur de tout effort crédible visant à réduire à zéro les émissions du Canada d’ici le milieu du siècle, comme la science du climat l’exige.