How this report was prepared

Click here for more information on the Pathway assessment criteria

The Pathways to Net Zero Decision Support Tool offers an overview of possibilities for change that are important for Canada’s journey to a zero-emissions society. Each sector analysis reviews how things operate today, options for decarbonization, short-term barriers to change, policy priorities, and longer-term challenges. The fundamental criteria here is not ‘can this reduce GHG emissions’ (because some approaches to reducing emissions may lead no further), but rather ‘can it contribute to accelerating transformation towards a net-zero society.’

The assessment tables presented on each sector page of this online tool are not concerned with fully elaborated pathways, which require a more elaborate analysis of sequencing change across multiple dimensions. Instead, the focus is on key pathway elements – technologies or social innovations which can anchor transformative processes. Since the purpose of a transition pathway is to link today’s world with a desired net zero future, promising pathway elements must be able to contribute to that mission either (a) by becoming part of the reorganized system that meets the goal, (b) by being a necessary intermediate step to get there or (c) by playing a facilitating role in the transition. Even when a potential pathway could in principle play one of these roles, there are questions about technological readiness, economic costs, social acceptability, appeal to critical stakeholders, and more which may influence its potential uptake.

Finally, since there are other problems with existing arrangements, and climate change is not the only social value shaping the evolution of societal systems, it is important to consider the potential of approaches to broader changes which promote improved services, healthier communities, enhanced resiliency, social equity, and more.

Each sector webpage of this Pathways to Net Zero Decision Support Tool features an evaluation table that organizes these considerations under general headings which assess the extent to which each option can contribute to pathways that are credible, capable, and compelling. 

In preparing the Pathways Tool we reviewed existing literature and synthesized findings. We did not conduct primary research or new modelling work. Feedback was then solicited from academic and stakeholder reviewers. The analysis presented here represents our best effort to systematize current understanding, but it is inevitably incomplete and imperfect. So, we welcome commentary and feed-back that can sharpen the perspective and rectify mistakes.