CCRE Commentary: Toward a National Energy Vision: Case Study: Electricity System Implications for Ontario and Quebec

CCRE June 2022 Commentary

“The success of Canada’s net-zero transition is inextricably linked to the decarbonization policies in all provinces, including Ontario and Quebec. Collaboration and transparent discussions using scientific facts and reliable data are the necessary prerequisites for an affordable transition for Canada.”

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By: Marc Brouillette

In 2021, the Council for Clean & Reliable Energy (CCRE) launched a series of Commentaries that advocate for the development of a principle-based National Energy Vision for Canada. Such a collaboratively developed vision could help Canada develop a transformative plan for securing low-carbon national energy security, meet its climate commitments and stimulate economic growth.

The CCRE’s first Commentary, “A National Energy Vision for Canada: A Principled Approach,” posited core principles for developing such a vision to address Canada’s enduring energy policy dilemma — creating a national energy strategy that aligns the economic and emissions conflicts between energy-producing and energy-consuming provinces. Canada’s commitment to achieving a net-zero economy by 2050 has crystalized two of the vision’s principles: clear goal; and a timeline.

The second Commentary, “Toward a National Energy Vision: Canada’s Low-Carbon Energy Infrastructure Opportunity in a Global Net Zero Future,” described the trifecta of low-carbon electricity, decarbonized fossil fuels and hydrogen that underpin the infrastructure prerequisites for achieving Canada’s climate goals, given regionally diverse natural endowments for energy production. It informed two vision principles critical to addressing Canada’s policy dilemma: enabling economic prosperity through thoughtful infrastructure decisions and the equitable development of that infrastructure.

This third Commentary provides a case study on the misalignment of electricity policies and climate objectives in Ontario, how that presents risks to national climate goals and how opportunities may be enabled through a collaboration between Ontario and Quebec on an overall regional energy vision. The case study focuses on illustrating the importance of three vision principles: fact and science-based discussions, the need for comprehensive and reliable data and ensuring affordability.1. SIGNIFICANT EMISSION CONTRIBUTIONS OF ONTARIO AND QUEBEC

Ontario and Quebec are Canada’s two most populous provinces and significant energy consumers.1 Despite having the two lowest provincial per-capita emissions, these two provinces are the largest emitters outside the energy sector [Figure 1].

The federal government has set 2035 targets for net-zero electricity grids and 100-percent electric vehicle (EV) sales.2 Electricity grids and light transportation emitted 160 metric tonnes (Mt) of greenhouse gases in 2019 or more than 20 percent of Canada’s emissions.3 While Ontario and Quebec represent only six percent of Canada’s electricity sector’s emissions, they together contribute 57 percent of Canada’s light transportation emissions.

1 Strategic Policy Economics (Strapolec). “Towards a National Energy Vision – The Realm of the Possible for Canada: Hitting Above Its Weight to Reduce Global Emissions”, December 2020.
2 Transport Canada. “Building a green economy.” June 2021.
3Environment and Climate Change Canada. Data on GHG emissions by province. 2019. Strapolec analysis.