Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground as a deer stands in a canola field near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. The Canada Energy Regulator says we will still heavily rely on fossil fuels over the next 30 years even with a bigger carbon tax and other new climate change policies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground as a deer stands in a canola field near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. The Canada Energy Regulator says we will still heavily rely on fossil fuels over the next 30 years even with a bigger carbon tax and other new climate change policies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Fossil fuels to decline but remain big player in Canada’s energy use by 2050: report

Under the status quo scenario, demand for oil and gas remains relatively stable over the next three years

The Canada Energy Regulator says reaching net-zero emissions over the next 30 years will require a much more aggressive transition away from oil and gas.

The annual Energy Futures report released Tuesday comes just a few days after the federal government tabled a bill to enshrine into law its target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

But the report projects that even with many more policies to curb emissions than are currently in place, oil and gas would still make up nearly two-thirds of energy sources three decades from now.

“Achieving net-zero (greenhouse gas) emissions by 2050 will require an accelerated pace of transition away from fossil fuels,” the report says.

Net-zero means either no emissions are produced, or any that are produced are absorbed by nature or technology so no more are added to the atmosphere, where they contribute to global warming.

Regulator CEO Gitane De Silva told The Canadian Press in an interview that the goal of the report isn’t to comment on existing policy, but to paint a picture of where things could go using a variety of assumptions.

“Really, our hope is that this information will help inform that policy process going forward,” she said.

The 104-page report looks at two potential scenarios for energy use in Canada. One involves using only the climate policies already in place. Another “evolving scenario” adds in the impacts of expanding those policies, including hiking the carbon tax, lower market prices for oil and gas, and lower costs to transitioning to renewables like wind and solar.

The current carbon tax is to stop rising in 2022 at $50 per tonne of emissions produced. The government is to review it at that point. The regulator’s report looks at what would happen if the carbon tax was hiked to $125 a tonne by 2050.

Under the status quo scenario, demand for oil and gas remains relatively stable over the next three years.

In the “evolving scenario,” oil and gas demand peaked in 2019. It will fall 35 per cent by 2050 but will still account for 64 per cent of all energy used.

Canada currently gets about one-sixth of its energy from electricity, about 20 per cent of which comes from burning fossil fuels.

In the evolving policy scenario, the report projects electricity will generate more than one-quarter of Canadian energy by 2050, and that fossil fuels will provide about 10 per cent of that.

Darren Christie, the chief economist at the Canada Energy Regulator, says COVID-19 added much more uncertainty to this year’s projections, because fuel consumption and production fell substantially during the pandemic restrictions.

He says it’s also not entirely clear how, or if, the country’s work and commuting habits will return to the pre-pandemic normal.

“It really changes our starting point,” he said.

Overall energy use is down six per cent because of the pandemic, and oil production in Canada is down about seven per cent.

READ MORE: Protesters block rail line on Trans Mountain pipeline route in Metro Vancouver

The evolving scenario projects that crude oil and natural gas production will both grow between 17 and 18 per cent by 2039, but will then start to fall, dropping seven or eight per cent by 2050.

De Silva notes that if the three oil and gas pipelines under construction get finished — Keystone XL, Trans Mountain and Enbridge Line 3 — they will together be the final pipelines Canada needs to build to handle the projected growth and fossil fuel production before it begins to decline.

The report suggests Canada will also have to seriously pick up the pace on electric vehicles to meet its current targets. Even under the evolving scenario, the report projects only half of the passenger vehicles sold will be electric by 2050, a decade after Canada wants them all to be electric.

The large driver in that is the cost of electric-car batteries, said Christie.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

oil and gas

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

District of houston
Council dips into surplus for highway project

Costs have risen to place utility lines underground

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

Accessibility improvements and more classrooms at the Houston Christian School should be completed by the new school year. (Houston Today photo)
Accessibility improvements coming to Houston Christian School

Construction package includes two classrooms

The soft opening of the nature centre at the Buck Creek CANFOR hatchery took place mid-April. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Houston hatchery and nature centre’s upcoming events

The conservation group to host summer students this year

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Most Read