With the pressing reality of major climate change and its serious consequences, Canada has committed to eliminate 219 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 – a mere 13 years away. It is a very ambitious goal. To put it into perspective, we could eliminate all fossil fuel-burning vehicles from the roads, rails, waters and skies and still not meet our target.

Faced with this herculean task, the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources is studying Canada’s transition to a lower-carbon economy – focusing on five sectors responsible for 80 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions.

These sectors are electricity, transportation, oil and gas, industries and buildings. We will release interim reports on each sector and a final report in late 2017 that will make recommendations to the government on how Canada can best achieve its targets in a way that doesn’t break the bank, doesn’t hobble the economy and doesn’t put Canadians in the poorhouse. The alternative to the world not achieving its climate change objectives poses an even greater threat to our economy and our lives in the long run.

Our committee just released its first report entitled Positioning Canada’s Electricity Sector in a Carbon Constrained Future. Canada already has one of the world’s cleanest electricity sectors, generating 80 per cent of its power from non-emitting sources, but there is always room for improvement. Four Canadian provinces still rely on coal-powered generation while many northern and remote communities use diesel generation because a lack of infrastructure prevents a transition to other sources. On top of that, we are told the current infrastructure is aging and will require significant investments.

Renewable energy is part of the solution

Part of the solution is offered by renewable energy alternatives. Their cost is becoming more affordable and they come with many new business opportunities. However, utilities cannot rely entirely on wind or solar generation because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Until we find a better way to store energy, utilities need to have firm, reliable power to meet their customers’ needs.

Regardless of whether or not Canada meets its targets, fossil fuel consumption is projected to steadily increase globally and temperatures will continue to rise. But one thing is clear: we cannot afford not to take immediate measures to minimize the impact of climate change. Because we have already seen some of its serious consequences, we must do all we reasonably can to reduce our emissions. And to be realistic, we should also seriously start planning adaptation measures to reduce the negative impacts on our environment.

Regarding our efforts to transition to a lower-carbon electricity sector, what will the cost be to the average Canadian? Electricity utilities in Alberta and New Brunswick testified that shutting down their coal plants will lead to price hikes. NB Power said a precipitated shutdown could result in a 39 per cent rate increase, in addition to already planned rate increases. Ontario’s quick transition away from coal and its much higher electricity bills remind us to proceed with caution.

But to put the price hikes issue into a broader context, we have to realize that because all sectors of the economy are interconnected, electricity will be instrumental in helping other sectors transition. When our committee was at McGill University last month to talk to students about climate change, one student asked if we were wasting our time studying the electricity sector since it is already very clean. As many witnesses expressed, electrification through the elimination of multiple sources of combustion such as vehicles, buildings and industrial processing may be the most cost-effective way to achieve deep de-carbonization.

Future generations will pay later if Canadians don't pay now

While there may be many ways, through energy efficiency and demand-side management, to curb and improve electricity use, Canadians must accept that a significant part of the transition will be paid for through higher electricity rates or higher public spending to stabilize rates and to drive clean generation investment. It will come out of the pockets of consumers and taxpayers, which is essentially the same pocket. Admittedly, the carbon-pricing schemes will generate significant revenues to the provinces to offset some of the costs associated with carbon pricing. But we still expect many Canadians will be left with significantly increased costs of living.

Finally, one of the biggest impediments to hitting our targets is Canadians’ reluctance to change their habits. We won’t get close to reaching our goal if we won’t adapt our lifestyle regarding energy consumption.

Canadians are faced with difficult circumstances: how much of our lifestyle will we sacrifice to meet our reduction target of 219 megatonnes of carbon dioxide? Most experts say we can’t meet it anyhow. Others told our committee any delay in responding to climate change will only impose a much greater cost and greater consequences to our economy, lifestyle and to the living conditions of the next generations.

Senator Richard Neufeld (British Columbia) is Chair and Senator Paul J. Massicotte (Quebec) is Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.

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Comments

This article is honest and I appreciate that. Switching to non-polluting energy sources is necessary for the survival of our species but it will cost money and will demand an effort from consumers and tax-payers. I wish more people in the environmental movement would be open about this.

The minimalist infrastructure to support Solar arrays does not justify paying the owner 1500% more than our Base Rate pre $mart meters of 0.051 cents per Kw here in Ontario at 0.80 cents per Kw. Base Rate pre smart meters was 0.051 Kw. My November Hydro bill Delivery was 2.15 X my energy charge for a 65 year old wire connection to my home.

I believe the major polluters need to be investigated first. For example "Fracking"
https://thinkprogress.org/methane-leaks-erase-climate-benefit-of-fracked...
and "tar sands"
https://www.desmogblog.com/top-10-facts-canada-alberta-oil-sands-informa...

A strong moratorium needs to be imposed on both of these mega polluters.
Anything less is just posturing!

Marcel, I agree, my opinion is that Fracking is promoted by a selfish Destructive Armageddon Cult. The seismic activity is scary, rupturing the crust of the earth and releasing methane, Toxic H2s and the Undisclosed falsely proclaimed Proprietary Chemicals, solvents and waste solids, contaminating Water Aquifers, and drinking water.

Another tragedy is the Toxic gases Vented and Inefficiently Flared. These 2 videos tell a current Alberta story. When I researched Diana Daunheimer reading Newspaper stories, I again became ashamed to be a Canadian. I suffer a compensable workplace Toxic Fume injury.

Diana Daunheimer - Lawsuit on frack harms - Didsbury ... - YouTube

▶ 40:45
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGtv2La40ec
Oct 10, 2015 - Uploaded by Will Koop
A heart wrenching and powerful presentation by Diana Daunheimer of her ... This presentation video was ...

Slick Water - Andrew Nikiforuk - Rosebud, Alberta - Sept.12 ... - YouTube

▶ 1:15:26
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clrjqOXEcUU
Oct 4, 2015 - Uploaded by Will Koop
Andrew Nikiforuk's new book, Slick Water - Fracking and One Insider's ... This video was published on …

Woman can't sue Alberta regulator in fracking case: Supreme Court ...
www.theglobeandmail.com › News › National
Diana Daunheimer. Jan 14. The contaminants include: diesel range organics, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, phthalates, and tert-butyl alcohol which …

It has been stated that if Africa collected all the Flare Gases vented and burnt that they could produce enough electricity to power half their continent. If Alberta collected all the wasted methane it may be able to eliminate the use of coal, and spare the health damage to humans, animals and their historic farming economy that relies on healthy soil.

The Nantikoke Coal fired power station was the largest facility in North America with 8 Boilers. The older, and smaller units to the left in the picture were not being used. Maybe a former employee could clarify this. As a Boilermaker I worked on the new SCR Nox Scrubber Units on the back of the building to the right facing Lake Erie, the winters of 2003 - 04. Accommodations are only available from September until School is out in June because of the local tourism.

A Private Proposal was made to collect the Flare gasses at the Esso Refinery and Erie Steel Mill just behind the power plant and pipe them to the Coal fired plant to minimize coal use. This was refused, which was negligent by Ontario Hydro a Publicly owned Company, Aka, the taxpayers of Ontario. A commenter on Cbc Newsfeed’s refers to the Albert Oil Industry as a Oil mafia. When leaving Nanticoke in June of 2004 and returning home i learned of six Co-worker, tradesman who had died from exposure to the Toxic Fumes from the Pulp Mill Emissions building an Air Emissions Project from 2002 to 2004.

When vehicle exhaust in the fall of 2004 started the same sequelae of symptoms as my Pulp Mill fume exposure of 3 weeks in early August 2003 when 59 of us were on oxygen. i went to a Library with a borrowed Dorlands Medical Dictionary. The link in vehicle exhaust was the formaldehyde of which hundreds of Tons Per Day are emitted from Pulp & Paper facility listed as Toxic methanol > formaldehyde > Formic acid Chemical Chain. These Ref: share a Realtime Alberta horror story of which i also now refer to as the Oil Mafia. Because of the Chlorine at the Pulp Mill blowing on us i Googled Dioxins and found out that the Italian mafia was guilty of the Open Air Burning of garbage instead of doing so in State of the Art Incinerators OR Landfill.

Nanticoke is surrounded by farms of every kind just like Alberta. Ref:

Mafia, toxic waste and a deadly cover up in an Italian paradise: 'They ...
www.telegraph.co.uk › News
Jun 24, 2016 - So the Camorra Mafia contaminated great chunks of its own ... sludge spread on fields as 'fertiliser', asbestos burnt in open air. .... I am convinced his death was due to the toxic waste when it was burning, with all the illegal dumping. ... of the buffalos used to produce the region's famous mozzarella cheese.

Reducing GHG emissions on the production size of energy is important, but people who care about the environment, decision makers and consumers should put more emphasis on the demand side for energy, the production and consumption of goods. Reducing energy demand is a major component of the solution to climate change.
For example, a study by the National Energy Board (NEB) is showing that "despite improved fuel economy and emission standards in most vehicles, the growing trend of consumer preference for SUV's and light trucks has resulted in GHG emissions from light trucks more than doubling, from 22 Mt (CO2 eq) in 1990 to 50 Mt in 2014, which has more than offset reductions in passenger car emissions from 52 Mt in 1990 to 36 Mt in 2014." As the total average annual growth of Canadian GHG emissions has risen by 0.7% from 1990 to 2014, emissions from the transportation sector rose at an average annual growth of 1.1%. In 2014, emissions from the transportation sector were 171 Mt, roughly 23% of total Canadian GHG emissions.
(NEB Market Snapshot, July 14, 2016: Increased GHG emissions from the transportation sector reflect major consumer and business trends.)
Another study by Natural Resources Canada (NRC) shows the emissions impact of "vehicle idling". In fact, if Canadian motorists "avoided idling for just three minutes every day of the year", carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could be reduced by 1.4 million tonnes annually. This would be equal to saving 630 million litres (and $630 million at $1/litre) of fuel and equivalent to taking 320,000 cars off the road for the entire year (that's more than the many millions invested in emissions reduction from CCS projects in Alberta).
Eliminating "unnecessary idling" (e.g.: shut your car engine when you stop along the road to talk on your cell phone) is one easy action that Canadians can take to reduce their GHG emissions. Each litre of gasoline that is used produces about 2.3 Kg of CO2. Therefore, every time you start the engine, you're contributing to climate change (with internal combustion engines, no technology exists for eliminating CO2 emissions).
(www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/communities-infrastructure/transportat...)

Rene' Transport Canada, Environment Canada and the Department of Justice fail Canadians. I got caught buying a 2012 Honda Crosstour in 2013, with a full ticket price of $48 thousand. I bought 8 year Extended Warranty thinking it could be my Retirement Car. Also to bump up Re-Sale Value if I decided to sell it. The local Honda Dealer denied the car was burning Oil. Finally I brought it to the Acura Dealer who pulled the plastic shroud off the top of the motor., US TSB # 11-033. There was motor oil leaking on the front bank manifold. At 5000 Kim my neighbour stopped me and said your car is burning oil. I looked in the rearview mirror and he was right, it was puffing white smoke.

The burning oil on the exhaust manifold was entering the vehicle AC system and me with a Toxic Fume Injury. The NAV unit was also melting down for the 3rd time emitting noxious fumes in the cars interior, US TSB # 13-024. The car was also De-Celerating suddenly and our beloved Service manager at Gore Motors blamed us for misapplying the Brake Pedal. TSB # 13-031 is only a Reactive Repair in the US, not a Recall. Someone could turn into a piece of charcoal from a rear end collision in heavy traffic.

Corporitist Government Regulators are coddling Industry, neglecting their "Duty of Care" to their payroll providers, the taxpayers of Canada. PMJT states a Canadian is a Canadian. Far from the truth, I have 5 letters written to several Executives at Honda Canada, including CEO Gerry Chenkin, asking for "Remedy". All i wanted was a Low Mileage executive driven Honda Ridgeline Truck the only vehicle without the V - 6 with VCM, also a lessor model without the large NAV unit on the dash which is prone to failure and melting down. A Massachusetts resident drove 9 hours to New Brunswick, went into the house to sleep and when he opened the car door a cloud of dark smoke blew out, the NAV Unit, glovebox [ picture & story in the NET] and floor mat on the passenger side were all burnt.

Honda Engine Misfire Class Action Lawsuit Settlement
https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit.../5323-honda-engine-misfire-class-a......
Nov 5, 2013 - Honda Motor Co. has reached a class action settlement over claims that ... burned oil, causing engine misfiring and premature spark plug degradation. ... with a 6-cylinder engine with Variable Cylinder Management (“VCM-2”), ...

My Transport Canada Confirmation # 2014 - 1786 and 2014 - 2153 sent in @ 5:25, Monday October 27, 2014. Any help from Transport Canada, not at all. Premier Wynne just donated millions to Honda's fine efforts for expansion, meanwhile this car would never have passed the Ontario Emissions Testing at 5000 Klm never mind the mandatory Test at 10 years. i would have to have driven 900 miles to get that done.

Rene' i paid for a Remote Starter because vehicle exhaust brings on the same sequelae as the Pulp Mill exposure. If a neighbour is using a snowblower, lawnmower, fire pit, wood stove, idling their vehicle, etc upwind I must enter the house. The car was ratting and misfiring like a worn out Model T in the driveway because of the Oil Fouled Spark Plugs. Also Full Cycle Costs have to be considered, like failed starters, the nightmarish Volkswagen diesel I once owned cost $600.oo to replace. That pays for lots of gasoline used idling. A parts man, once commented, you think your starter is expensive, that one os over a $1,100.oo.

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