OTTAWA, May 4, 2022—A new report finds that modernizing Canada’s electricity systems can play a central role in ensuring affordable, secure energy in the face of global volatility—while also advancing Canada’s climate goals. With co-ordinated federal and provincial action, a “big switch” from fossil fuels to clean electricity can make energy more affordable while laying the foundation for a sustainable and prosperous future.
The report from the Canadian Climate Institute, The Big Switch: Powering Canada’s net zero future, finds that without co-ordinated action from provincial and federal governments to build bigger, cleaner, and smarter electricity systems, Canada’s low-carbon transition could be much bumpier. Fortunately, the report finds, the technologies needed are available and affordable, and the policy solutions are readily at hand.
Key findings of the report include:
- The big switch will increase affordability for Canadians when it’s powered by the right policies. Rapidly declining costs of renewables and storage makes electricity more affordable than volatile fossil fuels. Smart, co-ordinated policy can build the bigger, cleaner, and smarter electricity systems that can power this promise.
- Aligning electricity systems with net zero—by making them bigger, cleaner, and smarter—is both necessary and achievable. These systems can reliably and affordably power Canada’s economy and the broader transition to net zero.
- The most significant barriers to the big switch are social, political, and institutional. Policy needs to address both the technical and non-technical barriers to the deployment and uptake of key solutions.
“The big switch from fossil fuels to clean electricity is key to reducing Canada’s emissions. Making our electricity systems bigger, cleaner and smarter to deliver on this is completely feasible—and Canada already has a head start. With co-ordinated action by federal and provincial governments, Canadians can power more and more of their lives using clean, affordable, and reliable electricity.”
—Jason Dion, lead author and Director of Mitigation Research, Canadian Climate Institute
“Transforming Canada’s electricity systems is necessary to achieve net zero. We have much to do, and limited time to do it. The technologies to build bigger, cleaner, and smarter systems are known and cost-effective, but there remain policy and regulatory barriers that are slowing progress. Utilities and other market actors need clear climate policies, and the role of regulators and system operators in the transition needs to be clearly laid out. Governments have a driving role in addressing these challenges and accelerating the big switch.” —Francis Bradley, President & Chief Executive Officer at Electricity Canada.
“Energy security, energy affordability, and climate change are all top of mind for Canadians right now. The big switch to clean electricity can help with all three, if we move quickly and get the policies right. The path is clear, the technology is affordable and available, and the benefits are considerable. Co-ordinated action from federal and provincial governments is how we get there.”
—Rick Smith, President, Canadian Climate Institute
“Increasing our clean energy would support Canadian industry’s competitiveness, because relying on fossil fuels leaves us exposed to swings in global commodity cycles. With the cost of wind and solar energy dropping, these technologies represent real opportunities to produce clean and affordable electricity while decoupling energy prices from global commodity prices. Increasing the supply of non-emitting power means unlocking investment at a time when global investors and capital markets are paying increasing attention to greenhouse gas emissions.”
– Barb Zvan, President and Chief Executive Officer, University Pension Plan
About the Canadian Climate Institute
We are Canada’s independent climate policy research organization, providing evidence-based policy analysis and advice to decision makers across the country.
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