By Dr. Henry Geraedts, Adjunct Prof. Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan, July 22, 2021
In November 2020, the federal government signaled its intention to move Canada’s economy to net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, tabling the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act in the House of Commons. This is a daunting challenge, as Canada is not on track to meet even its softer, non-binding Paris Climate Accord target of a 30 per cent reduction in GHG emissions from 2005 levels by 2030.
Assuming that setting a goal will therefore make it inevitable involves considerable wishful thinking. In practice, achieving Net Zero 2050 requires changing both the structure and modus operandi of our societies, forcing systemic electrification and eliminating hydrocarbons. Absent from the political rhetoric is whether existing energy alternatives to hydrocarbons allow us to rationally undertake such a transition. Broad, compelling evidence suggests not.
Historically, the world has successfully navigated several energy transitions, but only when doing so was demand-driven and socio-economically advantageous. In contrast, top down, policy-push, political programs rapidly face hard-edged socio-economic and physical obstacles.
This paper explores the “green” energy technologies promoted by governments as Net-Zero solutions, to identify the limits of what they can deliver. Applying a ground rule from venture capital, we identify issues that ceteris paribus cause the case to fail, and use those observations to outline consequences and outcomes.Continue reading “Net-Zero in 2050: Rhetoric and Realities”