Canada’s Greenhouse Gases
John Hollins, 2020 February 14
Findings and Insights from the Pathways Study of the Canadian Club of Rome
Canada’s public policy to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases has not delivered. Canada failed by a wide margin to meet the commitment that it made in Kyoto in 1997. It has abandoned the commitment for 2020 that it accepted in Copenhagen in 2009. The likelihood that it will meet the commitment for 2030 that it made in Paris in 2015 is vanishingly small.
The Governments of Canada (yes, both Conservative and Liberal) have made commitments without taking account of practical feasibility. The analytical foundation for Canada’s policy has been substantially inadequate, being informed only by political and economic analysis. Both address only the short term; they are not an adequate basis on their own for formulating policy for a complex, long-term issue. Targets have been set without any understanding of whether or not there was a way to hit them in practice, despite the fact that effective analytical tools have been available for more than three decades.
The Canadian Club of Rome has used the well-established Canadian simulation tool CanESS to explore potential futures, looking out 50 years to establish whether or not a desired future is in fact physically possible. This paper identifies the boundaries of the possible for Canada, province by province, and opens the way to pathways and policies that would actually work.
There is no way for Canada to meet its 2030 Paris commitment — the earliest it could reduce its emissions by 30% is probably 2050. Canada will not be the only country to fail, which makes substantial and prompt attention to adaptation imperative.
Canadian Energy Systems Simulator
The Canadian Energy Systems Simulator (CanESS) developed by whatIf? Technologies is a computational model with a very large database that enables its users to examine options for the evolution of energy systems in a consistent and coherent manner. It is an integrated, multi-fuel, multi-sector, provincially disaggregated energy-systems model of Canada. Emissions are taken into account from the beginning of an analysis.
CanESS enables bottom-up accounting for energy supply and demand, including energy feedstocks (e.g. coal, oil, gas); energy consuming stocks (e.g. vehicles, appliances, dwellings) and all intermediate energy flows. It is calibrated with observed historical data from 1978 to the present, and it enables projection of scenarios forward to 2050 and beyond.
 Dr. Hollins, a biophysicist who became a generalist, served for more than a decade as Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Energy Agency’s Programme of Energy Technology Systems Analysis. He is Past Chair of the Canadian Club of Rome canadiancor.com.
 brief description in the addendum