Both advanced and emerging markets are moving inexorably towards a low-carbon future. Yet Canada has no coherent strategy to reduce carbon consumption. Despite coming from very different perspectives a global energy company, a green economy think tank and an investor in the development of natural resources all the contributors in this section agree upon the imperative for change.
The dual global challenges of mitigating climate change and supplying the expected surge in global energy demand are formidable. The two issues are highly integrated and the policy direction adopted for each will impact the other. Canada needs effective and innovative federal policies that will enhance our position as a global energy supplier, broaden our market access to meet global energy demand and at the same time reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The year 2010 witnessed several historic events, with profound implications for Canada’s economic and environmental future. First, global investment in clean energy capacity surpassed investment in fossil fuel-based capacity for the first time. Overall spending on clean energy has risen by over 500% from 2004 – 2010, to $211 billion. It is projected to grow a further ten-fold by 2020, to reach a total of US$ 2.3 trillion.
As the world struggles to implement an effective regime to restrict carbon emissions into the atmosphere, Canada’s situation sticks out prominently – and often awkwardly. Although many other countries emit much greater volumes of carbon than we do, Canada enjoys two special distinctions: (i) we are the second largest per capita emitter of carbon in the world (after Australia); and (ii) as we expand our production from the oil sands and increase exports to the United States and other countries, we appear to be ever more hooked on carbon.