Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground as a deer stands in a canola field near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. The Canada Energy Regulator says we will still heavily rely on fossil fuels over the next 30 years even with a bigger carbon tax and other new climate change policies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground as a deer stands in a canola field near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. The Canada Energy Regulator says we will still heavily rely on fossil fuels over the next 30 years even with a bigger carbon tax and other new climate change policies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Fossil fuels to decline but remain big player in Canada’s energy use by 2050: report

Under the status quo scenario, demand for oil and gas remains relatively stable over the next three years

The Canada Energy Regulator says reaching net-zero emissions over the next 30 years will require a much more aggressive transition away from oil and gas.

The annual Energy Futures report released Tuesday comes just a few days after the federal government tabled a bill to enshrine into law its target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

But the report projects that even with many more policies to curb emissions than are currently in place, oil and gas would still make up nearly two-thirds of energy sources three decades from now.

“Achieving net-zero (greenhouse gas) emissions by 2050 will require an accelerated pace of transition away from fossil fuels,” the report says.

Net-zero means either no emissions are produced, or any that are produced are absorbed by nature or technology so no more are added to the atmosphere, where they contribute to global warming.

Regulator CEO Gitane De Silva told The Canadian Press in an interview that the goal of the report isn’t to comment on existing policy, but to paint a picture of where things could go using a variety of assumptions.

“Really, our hope is that this information will help inform that policy process going forward,” she said.

The 104-page report looks at two potential scenarios for energy use in Canada. One involves using only the climate policies already in place. Another “evolving scenario” adds in the impacts of expanding those policies, including hiking the carbon tax, lower market prices for oil and gas, and lower costs to transitioning to renewables like wind and solar.

The current carbon tax is to stop rising in 2022 at $50 per tonne of emissions produced. The government is to review it at that point. The regulator’s report looks at what would happen if the carbon tax was hiked to $125 a tonne by 2050.

Under the status quo scenario, demand for oil and gas remains relatively stable over the next three years.

In the “evolving scenario,” oil and gas demand peaked in 2019. It will fall 35 per cent by 2050 but will still account for 64 per cent of all energy used.

Canada currently gets about one-sixth of its energy from electricity, about 20 per cent of which comes from burning fossil fuels.

In the evolving policy scenario, the report projects electricity will generate more than one-quarter of Canadian energy by 2050, and that fossil fuels will provide about 10 per cent of that.

Darren Christie, the chief economist at the Canada Energy Regulator, says COVID-19 added much more uncertainty to this year’s projections, because fuel consumption and production fell substantially during the pandemic restrictions.

He says it’s also not entirely clear how, or if, the country’s work and commuting habits will return to the pre-pandemic normal.

“It really changes our starting point,” he said.

Overall energy use is down six per cent because of the pandemic, and oil production in Canada is down about seven per cent.

READ MORE: Protesters block rail line on Trans Mountain pipeline route in Metro Vancouver

The evolving scenario projects that crude oil and natural gas production will both grow between 17 and 18 per cent by 2039, but will then start to fall, dropping seven or eight per cent by 2050.

De Silva notes that if the three oil and gas pipelines under construction get finished — Keystone XL, Trans Mountain and Enbridge Line 3 — they will together be the final pipelines Canada needs to build to handle the projected growth and fossil fuel production before it begins to decline.

The report suggests Canada will also have to seriously pick up the pace on electric vehicles to meet its current targets. Even under the evolving scenario, the report projects only half of the passenger vehicles sold will be electric by 2050, a decade after Canada wants them all to be electric.

The large driver in that is the cost of electric-car batteries, said Christie.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

oil and gas

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

River’s incredible story came to an end when he was finally caught in a live trap on Dec. 13, 2020, after spending 16 days of surviving on his own in a North Thompson Valley wilderness area. (James Akey photo)
Bringing River home for Christmas

Lost dog saved from B.C. wilderness by a community that cared

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

(Jill Hayward photo)
Barriere Elementary advises COVId-19 school exposure

On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Barriere Elementary School advised school families that a… Continue reading

Dr. Rhonda Nixon has been appointed new superintendent and CEO for the School District 73. (SD73 photo)
SD73 Board of Education announces new superintendent

A new superintendent and CEO has been hired for SD73. The Board… Continue reading

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Most Read