Net zero by 2050?Some say it may cost more than Canada can afford.

Turning the calendar to 2022, Canada approaches its goal of zero net carbon emissions by 2050.

One major Canadian bank believes this goal is affordable in this time frame, but some analysts say that Canada has almost no economic and practical hurdles to overcome on this road. Suggests that you are facing.

Ian Lee, a 33-year business professor at Carleton College, says that most environmentalists who advertise the Net Zero goal do not do the homework he requires from students.

“Show me the money, show me the data,” Lee said in an interview.

“I’m not against the idea of ​​decarbonization. That’s not my point. It’s that people are screaming for the slogan:” Decarbonization! “And” Net Zero Carbon 2050! ” And no one says, “OK, how do you get there, and what number is involved?” It’s just a slogan. It is not evidence-based. “

RBC report

October 2021 Report by RBC Economics With a $ 2 trillion investment, Canada has suggested that it could reach net zero by 2050. This requires at least $ 60 billion in annual spending, well above the estimated $ 15 billion currently spent by the federal government.

Despite considerable efforts already made, greenhouse gas emissions comparable to Canada’s carbon dioxide 602 million tons Since 1990 730 million tons per year The latest dataset available based on the 2019 figures.

The federal government’s goal is to reduce emissions to 500 million tonnes by 2030, after which new technologies such as electric vehicles, new heat sources for homes, and new processes to acquire and store some of the ongoing emissions. Is to eliminate or offset the rest by 2050. Be produced.

To From 730 million tons to reach net zero in 2050 In annual figures, RBC’s current policies and trends have reduced 199 million tonnes, “innovation and behavioral change” has reduced 183 million tonnes, and the remaining 348 million tonnes. We anticipate reductions through “strategic opportunities” in seven areas: electricity and oil. Gas, building, transportation, heavy industry, agriculture, waste and other industries.

Emission reductions in the electricity and oil and gas sectors are paramount to achieving net zero, and RBC powers Canada to power the country, especially from hydro, nuclear, wind, and solar sources. It states that the supply needs to be doubled. The annual cost is about $ 5.4 billion, or the total cost from now to 2050 is over $ 150 billion.

Efficiency may reduce energy demand, but this may also be offset by Canada’s growing population, which requires more electricity.

Energy demand

Canada has consumed, according to the Canadian Ministry of Natural Resources 11,489 Petajour More than half (52%) of energy (PJ) in 2017 is consumed industrially, followed by transportation (23%), residential (13%), and commercial (12%). .. Refined petroleum products are the largest fuel type consumed in 2018, accounting for 4,713 PJ of total consumption. Natural gas accounts for 4,076 PJ, electricity accounts for 1,916 PJ, and the remaining 783 PJ comes from biofuels and other sources.

Based on Lee’s assessment, Canada needs to replace three-quarters of its fossil fuel-powered energy supply with “green” electricity to reach its net-zero goal of 2050. Built at $ 23 billion at $ 2020, the Darlington Nuclear Generating Plant will generate 70 petajoules annually, less than 1% of Canada’s fossil fuel-based energy, based on 2017 production.

“How do you generate it? [that much power]?? 100 Darlington plants? hundred? We haven’t built a new nuclear power plant for 25 years, “Lee said.

“Now we’re talking about getting the grid to power three, four, or five times more. [than] Previous. In other words, you need to expand the grid. “

“It is likely that society needs to be forced.”

Ann Study in October 2021 According to G. Cornelis van Kooten, an economist at the University of Victoria at the Fraser Institute, 28,340 wind turbines or about 30 nuclear power plants will need to be built by then to reach the 2030 emission reduction target. It is about. Renewable energy options cost between $ 16.8 billion and $ 33.7 billion annually, while nuclear options cost half as much. It does not include costs associated with purchasing or renting land, building power lines, or disposing of hazardous waste.

Astonishing battery capacity is required to store electricity to compensate for the inconsistency between wind and solar. Van Kooten estimates that the Alberta grid alone will require 1,000 to 10,000 hectares of battery, with a cap equivalent to 14,000 football pitches.

“The challenge of reducing emissions is enormous, and it is unlikely that a transition to a carbon-free economy will occur within the next few decades, not to mention by 2030. Yet, society is forced to make the necessary sacrifices. You may even get closer to achieving your CO2 emission reduction goals, ”van Kooten wrote.

Despite being the 10th largest carbon emitter in the world, Canada accounts for only 1.6% of the world’s emissions. Lee says the government should be encouraged to take a different approach.

“I [said imagine] Some asteroids came from space and annihilated Canada. It was annihilated — not one person was left behind. … Regarding global warming [no-one would] News. Statistical rounding error at 1.6 [percent]”Lee said.

Requires huge resources

according to 2020 Manhattan Institute Survey According to Mark P. Mills, replacing a 100 MW natural gas-fired turbine requires 20 wind turbines that occupy 25 square kilometers of land. Building solar, wind and hydropower facilities requires mining, moving and converting at least 10 times as much raw material as natural gas-powered sites that supply the same amount of energy.

Mills writes that one 100 MW wind power plant will require 30,000 tonnes of iron ore, 50,000 tonnes of concrete, and 900 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic for large blades. For solar power, the tonnage of cement, steel and glass is 150 percent higher. A practical storage system for a 100 MW wind farm requires at least 10,000 tonnes of Tesla-class batteries.

The International Renewable Energy Agency predicts that by 2050, solar waste will double the tonnage of plastic waste worldwide, according to current plans. Combined with plastic straws, the International Energy Agency predicts that more than 3 million tons of non-recyclable plastic turbine blades will fill the landfill each year since 2050.

Lee Harding


Lee Harding is a Saskatchewan-based journalist and think tank researcher and contributor to The Epoch Times.