January 25, 2021, Ottawa, ON – Reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions will require major changes in the large-scale systems we use to meet societal needs, such as the way we produce and distribute energy or move people and goods. To meet this challenge, Canada needs a paradigm shift from trying to do a little bit of everything to reduce emissions to accelerating real change by strategically focusing on building out key regional and sector-specific pathways to net zero. This is the core message behind the Pathways to Net Zero report, a decision support tool released today by The Transition Accelerator, a pan-Canadian registered charity focused on reaching net zero while solving other societal challenges. The report is available to read at transitionaccelerator.ca.

Written as a reference document and tool for those making climate policy and investment decisions, the report provides assessments of different pathways to net zero for eight critical sectors, assigning different technologies and approaches a green, yellow or red designation based on their viability. Overall, the report takes a transition and an energy systems approach, recommending that government policies need to focus on how to accelerate the transformation of systems and sectors that generate greenhouse gas emissions while delivering other societal benefits, rather than on advancing incremental emissions reductions at the lowest cost per tonne by a specific date.

With this in mind, the report calls on policymakers and investors to first focus on decarbonizing sectors where net-zero technologies and approaches are already available. This means prioritizing decarbonizing electricity, accelerating electric vehicle deployment and performing mass building retrofits, since these sectors are in the more mature ‘diffusion’ phase of their decarbonization transition. For Canada to successfully reach net zero by 2050, it must commit to these viable, ready-to-deploy solutions and put Canada on a path to decarbonization now.

“Rather than just setting a regulatory and policy framework and letting the marketplace determine the pace and scale of Canada’s net zero transition, it is vital that governments target efforts and commit now to the solutions that will get us there,” said James Meadowcroft, a research director at The Transition Accelerator and the lead author of the Pathways to Net Zero report. “Without similar past commitments from governments, Canada would not have built a national highway system or have developed the oil sands.”

The report also underscores that Canada needs to consider what its future net zero energy system will look like, and build pathways to get there. For example, the report identifies decarbonized electricity, low-carbon fuels like hydrogen and biofuels, carbon capture and storage and negative emissions solutions, and dramatic changes in technologies, business models and social practices in the end use sectors as essential elements of Canada’s future clean energy system.

The Transition Accelerator will be updating the Pathways to Net Zero report periodically, adding new chapters that provide assessments of additional sectors. For more information on The Transition Accelerator, please visit transitionaccelerator.ca. Click here to read the Pathways to Net Zero report.


Media Contact:
 

Jess Harris  
Director of Communications 
The Transition Accelerator 
437-227-6123
jharris@transitionaccelerator.ca