The key takeaway from a new flagship government report is that no new pipeline construction is needed in Canada, and the current pipelines under construction – the TransMountain Expansion, Keystone XL, and Enbridge Line 3 Replacement- are sufficient to accommodate all future crude oil production. The new report, Canada’s Energy Future 2020: Energy Supply and Demand Projections to 2050, is the latest annual report by the Canada Energy Regulator CER- (formerly the National Energy Board) and discusses the future of all energy commodities under two scenarios – a Reference case and an Evolving Scenario, which includes a carbon price of $75 per tonne in 2040 and $125 per tonne in 2050.
Under the Evolving Scenario of increased policy intervention, Canada’s domestic fossil fuel consumption peaked in 2019 and by 2050, it will be 35% lower than the 2019 level. However, the report states that even under the Evolving Scenario, fossil fuel consumption is forecast to make up over 60% of Canada’s fuel mix in 2050. It is worth noting that these CER reports have been criticized in the past for overestimating fossil fuel demand – for example, by the Pembina Institute in 2019, in “Why Canada’s Energy Future report leads us astray” . In 2020, Pembina calls for changes to the modelling assumptions for future reports, saying “the scenarios modelled in the report are still not aligned with commitments set out in the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. This model of Canada’s energy future is not consistent with the future that Canada has committed to in the Paris Agreement.” Further, it points out “Canada’s Energy Future 2020 report does not reflect the range of recent scenarios for global oil demand, such as those recently released by the International Energy Agency and BP, where demand is predicted to fall by 50 to 75 per cent over the next 20 to 30 years in order to achieve net-zero emissions.”
Other reactions to the CER report focus on the forecast of declining need for pipelines , summarized in “No Future Need for Trans Mountain, Keystone XL Pipelines, Canadian Energy Regulator Report Shows” (The Energy Mix, Nov. 25), and even echoed in the conservative Financial Post . Followers of David Hughes will recognize this argument that he has made many times, most recently in Reassessment of Need for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project , published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives at the end of October .
The press release and summary from the Canada Energy Regulator report is here, with data sets and interactive tables here and an archive of past annual reports here. Beyond fossil fuel projections, this year’s Report includes a discussion of the transition to a Net-Zero Emissions energy system, focusing on personal passenger transportation, oil sands production, and remote and northern communities. It also briefly notes the impact of the Covid pandemic, stating “Canadian end-use energy demand will fall by 6% in 2020 compared to 2019, the biggest annual drop since at least 1990. Energy to move people and goods will fall the most due to less travel and increased remote work and learning.” (A report published by the World Meteorological Office on Nov. 23 provides preliminary estimates of a reduction in the annual global emission between 4.2% and 7.5% because of Covid).