Canada is short of carbon-free energy, according to a recent report by climate researchers at MIT.
Canada uses a variety of sources of energy, including oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectricity, and coal. The country is also a major exporter of natural gas and beef, and exports half a million barrels of oil per day, making it among the world’s largest sellers of oil and gas. “It really is a big country with large areas where there is little or no fossil fuel energy available,” MIT climate researcher Jeremy Jackson told the BBC.
“There are perhaps 30 to 40 huge coal power plants in Canada and most of them are either burning oil or generating methane, which is much more potent than carbon dioxide,” Jackson explained. “If you could phase out any of them, that’s a major part of the problem.”
The report, which analyzed the country’s carbon-fuel mix from 1987 to 2017, found that Canada’s lack of greenhouse gas emissions was due to lower oil consumption, not stronger economic growth. This was borne out by the study’s findings that the country’s carbon emissions had remained relatively flat over the previous 26 years, which had been dominated by economic growth.
The study’s authors say that if Canada increased its annual emissions by, say, 1 percent more, it would still not cause any noticeable change in global carbon dioxide emissions.
Catherine McKenna, Canada’s natural resources minister, has vowed to increase the country’s annual carbon emissions to a number that could make them one of the leaders in the world, though the team behind the new study has criticized that proposed increase, calling it “long on aspirations, vague on delivery.”
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