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IEA Cites Canadians as Biggest Per Capita Energy Users, Three Times the Global Average

Canadians are—and will remain—among the biggest per capita consumers of energy over the next decade even as policies ramp up to make the country more energy-efficient, a global energy forecast suggests.

The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook published last Wednesday shows Canadians used more than 300 gigajoules of energy per person last year, three times the world average and among the highest in the world, The Canadian Press reports.

Canada’s energy use was slightly higher than what Americans consumed, and almost twice the energy demand recorded in the European Union.

The agency report forecasts that as a result of policies to make homes more efficient, remove fossil fuels from the power grid, and put more electric cars on the road, Canada’s power demand will fall below 300 gigajoules per person by 2030.

But it will still be among the highest energy users in the world, and even though energy demand is expected to rise in India, China, and the Middle East, Canada’s consumption is forecast to remain almost three times the world average.

It takes about 25 gigajoules to power the average Canadian house over 12 months, but the total energy use per person references all energy used, including in transportation, industry, and heating and cooling.

The IEA report doesn’t breakdown Canada’s energy use by source. However, a report earlier this year from colossal fossil BP said that, in 2020, 61% of energy used in Canada was supplied by burning oil and gas, 25% was from hydroelectricity, 6% was nuclear energy, 4% came from renewables, and 3.7% from burning coal, CP writes.

BP said oil and gas provided 56% of the world’s total energy consumption, while coal provided 27%, nuclear 4%, hydroelectricity 7% and renewables 5.6%.

Isabelle Turcotte, director of federal policy at the Pembina Institute, said many people blame Canada’s high energy consumption on its size and climate, and an economy that has been reliant on energy-intensive natural resource production.

“But it doesn’t have to be this way,” she said. “This doesn’t need to translate into high energy needs. We can see other countries that have similar climates being more energy-efficient.”

Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada, said this year’s World Energy Outlook was the first in which the IEA aligned its projections for energy demand and supply with the Paris agreement goal to keep global warming to as close to 1.5°C as possible by the end of this century.

Read a full summary of the IEA release here.

The main body of this report was first published by The Canadian Press on October 14, 2021.