Insights & Analysis

February 8, 2021

A Time for Action: Implementation Review of Canada’s Energy Sector Plans

The time to act is now. We’ve set national emissions-reduction goals, and we’ve commissioned all the reports and analysis that we need. It is time to push forward on a plan that reduces emissions and is inclusive of the energy sector.

The federal government’s timeline to reach our 2030 emissions reduction goals is fast-approaching, and governments around the world are making the policy decisions necessary to take advantage of the market opportunities inherent in a lower carbon future. A competitive energy sector can complement Canada’s drive towards net-zero, but governments must help mobilize immediate progress towards these ends.

The Business Council of Alberta’s (BCA) recent paper, A Time for Action: Implementation Review of Canada’s Energy Sector Plans, conducts a review of major policy reports commissioned by the federal government that seek pathways to achieve two of Canada’s most pertinent dual priorities—ensuring a competitive and sustainable future for the energy sector; and pursuing the innovative pathways that will include this sector in the nation’s drive to a low carbon future.

It’s no secret that the energy sector is a major contributing source of global greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it accounted for about 27% of Canada’s total manmade GHG emissions in 2018. But there’s also no denying the energy sector’s outsized contribution to the Canadian economy. The sector represents a massive opportunity to cut emissions while contributing to the prosperity of everyday Canadians.

Recognizing this, the federal government has already collaboratively engaged with the energy sector, academia, financial institutions, and non-profits to develop several high-profile reports outlining specific actions and recommendations that can help Canada to achieve its climate and prosperity goals while creating a competitive energy sector well into the future. While government has taken some actions to implement the recommendations of these reports, there are many important, pragmatic, and sensible ideas and recommendations that remain unaddressed.

If Canada wants to reach its climate goals and generate prosperity, the federal government must do more, and it needs to do it quickly. To this end, the BCA suggests implementing the following priority recommendations from reports the federal government has already commissioned:

Our Recommendations
1. Create a detailed, fully costed, sector-specific roadmap and timelines for outlining Canada’s investment/budget needs to reach climate targets;

2. Position Canada as the global leader for cleaner fuels of the future, such as hydrogen, biofuels, RNG and LNG;

3. Create the financial and investment tools necessary to attract and incent investment in emissions-reducing technologies, including the adoption of a green taxonomy and policy measures to de-risk capital expenditures on green tech;

4. Develop an oversight body tasked with ensuring infrastructure development allows for sector competitiveness, including for existing fuels and emerging clean energy sources;

5. Focus on transforming the regulatory and approvals system to an outcomes-based approach, first by piloting new approaches for key pilot programs such as carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS); LNG; hydrogen; or methane reduction;

6. Spur innovation through supports of late-stage research and development through technology hubs, thereby helping to de-risk investments in technologies that help achieve climate goals;

7. Adopt and bolster the “Norway brand” for Canadian oil and gas: become a top oil and gas emissions and environmental performer and a competitive oil and gas exporter.

The journey to achieve Canada’s 2030 and net-zero Paris Agreement commitments will be challenging, but the pathway has been established. It’s time for the federal government to seize the opportunity to reduce emissions and create a resilient natural resources sector. If we don’t act with speed and scale, these opportunities will pass us by.

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