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There are many pathways to clean power. We have the solutions to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future. What is missing is not human ingenuity or technology. What is missing is the political will to leap forward. A recent report, Zeroing in on Emissions: Canada’s clean power pathways – a review, by the David Suzuki Foundation lays out ten doable steps to take Canada to zero carbon emissions by 2050 as climate scientists say we must do. (Editor intro)

How To Zero Out Carbon In Canada By 2050, Below2C

How to Zero Out Carbon

This report undertakes an extensive review of global and Canadian decarbonization models and studies. It highlights ten technically feasible strategies, actions and considerations that a wide range of experts agree will be front and centre in any effective effort to zero out Canada’s emissions by the middle of this century, as science on climate change says is required. (excerpt from the report)

The 10 steps include:

  1. Accelerate clean power, with provinces and utilities moving to “aggressively dial down” electricity system emissions until they reach zero;
  2. Do more with less energy, recognizing that energy efficiency offers the best return of any energy investment;
  3. Electrify just about everything, including space heating and transportation;
  4. Free heavy industry from emissions by decarbonizing existing industrial processes;
  5. Switch to renewable fuels for sectors like aviation, marine, and heavy transportation that won’t be easily electrified;
  6. Mobilize investment dollars away from carbon-intensive sectors and towards the clean economy;
  7. Level the playing field between polluting and cleaner energy through incentives and government price signals;
  8. Reimagine our communities to maximize the role of “complete, compact, livable communities” in the transition;
  9. Focus on what really matters by embracing measures of human well-being over purely economic calculations like GDP;
  10. Bring everyone along by managing the transition and supporting vulnerable workers and communities.

A Litmus Test

Together, these strategies are a litmus test for credible climate plans, according to the Zeroing in on Emissions report.

The report says the 10 strategies show that “deep reductions in emissions are possible while maintaining our quality of life. Although the transition will require considerable effort by industry, government, and people living in Canada, modelling results show that, in general, households and the business sector will face manageable costs, especially as improved energy efficiency and cleaner production deliver a range of ancillary benefits like improved air quality and health. Cleaner energy and fuel sources also create less air, water, and land contamination than alternatives.”

The transition to a clean energy platform “also provides opportunities for technological innovation, as well as employment and economic opportunities in the growing cleantech sector,” the report notes.

Zeroing in on Emissions however includes a very large caveat. Policies and government actions that “shift investment toward the clean economy” are urgently required to fully capitalize on emerging opportunities. “Delay will be costly. Power plants, industrial boilers, buildings, transportation infrastructure, and heavy machinery have long operational lifetimes—some of the plant and equipment built in the 2020s will still be in use in 2050. If investments continue in GHG-intensive infrastructure and equipment, the cost of meeting Canada’s climate targets will increase.”

The purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5b and the recent approval of its expansion for $7.4b do not “shift investment toward the clean economy”. The political courage to leap forward is missing. (Editor’s comment)

Related articles:

Clean Energy Job Growth Is Booming in Canada
Batteries Are Driving The Clean Energy Transition

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Creative Commons License

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  1. This from the report, ‘3.ELECTRIFY JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING, Electricity is Canada’s cleanest energy source for many provinces, but as of 2016 it only powered about 20 per cent of our energy needs. Studies suggest that by mid-century clean electricity will make up half or more of our energy mix.’ sounds terrific as far as it goes. But our Hydro electrically driven Provinces do not produce clean electricity. The damage that the megadams do to society, nature, and the economy is not helping the effort to adapt to climate change or for that matter reduce climate change effects. Zeroing in on Emissions is a necessary part of what we have to do but pretending that big Hydro isn’t worth mentioning, or worse is part of the solution means that you have zeroed in too far. Solar, wind, geothermal, after conservation and efficiency and lifestyle and economic rationalization towards a hundred mile radius social economy, yes. But more big dams is not an answer.

    • Randal – welcome to Below2C.

      You’re right that Hydro power does not come without its own set of climate and environmental repercussions. You raise a good point. I’ve not looked at the full report in detail. I’ve focused on the Executive Summary only.

      To ELECTRIFY JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING means that the future will need a lot more electric power. Natural gas is surely not the answer. And we will be closing down all coal plants. If not hydro projects, then what else?

      Thank you for your feedback.

      • I agree – no more big dams. But QC has massive surplus renewable water power supply and no market. ON could replace our high cost nuclear rebuilds with low-cost renewable water power from QC and save Ontarians billions of dollars while moving ON to a renewable future without the risks of nukes. We’ve got the grid already to replace what we use from Pickering – no upgrades to the transmission system required – doing so could save us $5 billion. Also replacing Darlington with QC power would require upgrades but they’d cost $2 billion while OPG says the Darlington rebuild would cost $13 billion. But the greatest opportunity is to reduce demand which costs one/eighth of the Darl. rebuild.

        • Angela – welcome to Below2C.

          I’ve not looked into the reasons why Ontario is so reticent to strike a deal with Quebec. Surely such an arrangement, especially a long-term deal, would benefit both provinces. It’s win-win.

          Is it the politics of nuclear power that are getting in the way? And why is it so hard to let go of aging nuclear plants when the future clearly points to alternative sources of energy?

          And as you point out, reducing demand is huge. But the current government is far from progressive on all these climate and energy-related issues.

          A large thank you for your interest in what we do and for your feedback.

  2. Here is a litmus test for your credibility. include Below 2Cs feelings on our existing and projected Hydro electric dams.


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