A new report by energy economists Mark Jaccard and Brad Griffin asserts that it is possible for Canada to achieve net-zero electricity by 2035, and describes and models how this can be achieved within the challenging jurisdictional structure. A Zero-Emissions Canadian Electricity System by 2035 focuses on zero-emission policies that the federal government has the authority to implement, chiefly through the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, which has allowed the federal government to establish an industrial output-based pricing system. However, the report recognizes that the electricity sector is primarily a matter of provincial jurisdiction, resulting in wide variations which are described in a summary of the status and key features for each province. The report models two different future scenarios, both of which assume substantial growth of solar, wind, and other renewables; the growth of energy storage capacity; and continued resistance to interprovincial grid development. However, one scenario assumes continued use of fossil-fuel electricity generation with carbon capture and storage in Alberta and Saskatchewan, along with the development of large hydro in Atlantic Canada. In terms of cost, the authors state that the scenario allowing for fossil fuel generation will be cheaper in the short-term, and more expensive in the long-term. The authors recommend that the government continue with the existing structure of federal-provincial equivalency-based carbon pricing systems, but that those agreements be monitored by Canada’s Net-Zero Advisory Body, “using the assessment expertise of the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices”. (It should be noted that author Mark Jaccard is a member of the Institute’s Expert Panel on Mitigation).
The report was commissioned by the David Suzuki Foundation, in collaboration with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, the Ecology Action Centre and the Pembina Institute. A summary by Mark Jaccard appears in his blog .