Friday, October 30, 2009

Landmark Study on the Cost of Carbon Reduction for Canada

A landmark report on climate change shows that Canada can meet its carbon reduction targets. The study was conducted by the David Suzuki Foundation, the Pembina Institute and Toronto Dominion Bank.

"Ottawa will have to lead a massive restructuring of the Canadian economy, with wealth flowing from the West to the rest of the country, if it is to meet its climate-change targets.

The Conservative government's goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 can be achieved, but only by limiting growth in Alberta and Saskatchewan."

The report states that economic growth in Alberta and Saskatchewan would be reduced by 2.8 percent, growth in other provinces would be static, and central Canada would increase its rate of employment. Even with emissions reductions, Canada's overall GDP will grow by 2.2 percent per year until 2020.

This study reveals the key technological approaches needed to achieve major reductions in Canada’s GHG emissions.

The most important of these are

• capture and storage of carbon dioxide from the oil and gas industry and power plants

• reduction of “fugitive” emissions from the oil and gas industry and from landfills

• increased energy efficiency throughout the economy (e.g., in vehicles and buildings)

• increased production of renewable energy (e.g., wind power accounts for 18 per cent

of electricity generated in 2020 when meeting either of the two targets, compared to

less than two per cent now)

• replacement of fossil fuels by cleaner electricity (e.g., for heating buildings).

The accompanying technical reports shows that switching from burning of fossil fuels to electricity generation from clean sources (such as electrifying home heating and transport) reduces emissions by 33 megatons of C02e. However, switching from fossil fuels to nuclear power in electricity generation yields the smallest reduction in emissions from that sector, a nearly negligible 0 to 1 megaton of C02e by 2020.

It's a little unclear what "Reduced fossil fuel output" refers to, but it appears to mean a reduction in the production of oil and natural gas, located primarily in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and yields a drop of 43 to 64 megatons of C02e by 2020. Carbon capture and storage yields a reduction of 30 to 76 megatons of C02e.

However, it should be noted that another report issued in September by Greenpeace CA estimated the cost of using carbon capture and storage at the tar sands projects would cost Canadians 2 to 3 billion dollars per year for the next 20 years.

1 comment:

  1. Carbon capture and storage is one of those ideas that is great in principal but not so easy to implement. One of the main problems has to do with the geology of suitable storage locations. Geological structures where the rock is tight enough that the captured carbon won't leak are relatively rare and tend not to be in the locations where large amounts of carbon are produced. Thus, you have to capture the carbon in one location and transport it to a second storage location -- a matter that both increases the cost and creates a big logistical block.