Canada could produce all its electricity from renewable sources by 2035 and reduce its carbon pollution 80% by 2050, according to a report released March 18 by a team of more than 70 scientists, engineers, and economists.
The study’s policy prescriptions include a price on carbon, an end to fossil fuel subsidies, and an east-west power grid to maximize use of the country’s hydroelectric resources.
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“This is within reach,” said lead author Catherine Potvin, Canada Research Chair in climate change mitigation at McGill University. “We could be the world leader.”
“It reinforces the point that, broadly, we know what needs to be done,” added York University political scientist Mark Winfield, an environmental policy specialist who served as an outside reviewer for the report. “We really need to move into implementation.”
The study mapped out an 80% greenhouse gas reduction by 2050 based on a 2005 baseline, not the 1990 starting point that has been a reference point for international climate targets. The difference matters, since Canada’s GHG emissions continued to rise between 1990 and 2005 (and beyond).
The study team agreed that climate action in Canada has been held back by jurisdictional issues between federal and provincial governments and a lack of federal leadership, resulting in a “patchwork of policies” to address the climate challenge. But “the key message of the document is that it is neither too late for Canada to implement a robust climate strategy nor impossible to do so despite the impact of the fossil fuel industry on the national economy,” the Globe and Mail reports.
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