The members of the Net-Zero Advisory Body have released their first annual report, as mandated under the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act (CNZEAA). This report contains 25 pieces of advice on Canada’s transition to net-zero emissions by 2050, to improve net-zero governance, to actively steer the economy towards a competitive net-zero future with a modern, effective net-zero industrial policy, and to build widespread momentum for pathways to a true net-zero energy system.

According to Dan Wicklum and Marie-Pierre Ippersiel, the co-chairs of the Net-Zero Advisory Body, the measures proposed in the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) set credible foundations upon which a more ambitious transition can be built.

“While we are confident our advice will help put Canada on the right path, bringing the full suite of ERP measures and proposals to fruition as quickly and rigorously as possible is required for success. However, different ERP measures have differing momentum to implementation. Some that have been contentious, like the light-duty Zero Emission Vehicle mandates, are gaining public support and there is a clear path to implementation.”

The co-chairs add that other measures, such as the oil and gas sector emissions cap, are earlier in their evolution, and may encounter resistance, but are critical to attaining Canada’s 2030 emission reduction targets.

“Unlike other heavy industry sectors like steel and cement, emissions from the oil and gas sectors are still rising, and the track record of the oil and gas sector suggests self-regulation will be difficult,” they write. “Despite some improvements in emissions intensity of oil and gas production, emissions from the oil and gas sector rose by 18.8% between 2005 and 2019 while emissions from the rest of the economy declined by 6.1%. Without an oil and gas emissions cap, Canada is unlikely to attain its 2030 emission target. We extend our full support in favour of adopting a rigorous but fair cap on oil and gas emissions.”

The report outlines numerous suggestions for other actions to be taken to make positive change in the areas of net-zero governance, industrial policy, and energy systems. These actions should be implemented through careful application of the NZAB’s 10 foundational values and design principles, as well as with partnership and involvement from leaders across provinces, territories, Indigenous nations, industry, and civil society.

“I would like to thank the Net-Zero Advisory Body members for their advice. Gathering ideas, conducting research, and analyzing pathways are key to informing the actions necessary to reach our climate goals,” stated Minister Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is reviewing the recommendations and will be publishing a formal response by April 29, 2023, in accordance with the timelines established by the Act.

Executive summary excerpt

With the passing of each year, we set record high temperatures and witness increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events. These new normal climate conditions will continue to afflict Canadians, and Indigenous peoples in particular, including through forest fires, storms, hurricanes and flooding that damage communities and disrupt daily life. This trend will continue and worsen as long as our prosperity and well-being rely on a carbon-based economy. It is time for Canada to end this dependence and accelerate the attainment of a net-zero emissions society.

With 27 years left until 2050, it is not enough to accelerate the decline of emissions — success must be about the construction of a prosperous net-zero future for all Canadians. Achieving this requires urgent actions, from the way we collectively govern ourselves to the tools we use to steer the country to sustainable prosperity. This is a difficult and long-term undertaking. The key to success is getting on a credible pathway to net-zero by 2050 in a manner that responds to our unique domestic challenges and opportunities, while joining emerging initiatives with partners abroad and learning from others’ approaches (e.g., the United States’ Inflation Reduction Act and the European Union’s Green Deal).

Canada must remain at the forefront of the net-zero movement to ensure competitiveness in the global economy, sustain well-being, create good jobs, and attract investments to leverage competitive advantages. Our advice to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change will help Canada make the shift towards a more sustainable, fair and flourishing future for all Canadians. This report contains 25 pieces of advice that will help strengthen net-zero governance in Canada, build the industrial policy that Canada needs to thrive in a clean economy, and transform our energy systems for a net-zero future.

The full content of the advice, which contains key nuances, can be found in the main report by clicking here.

Featured photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

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