IEA Report Recommends More Funding for Clean Energy in Canada

Oil Refinery closeup

By Maura Forrest

March 3, 2016

Canada needs to take action to meet its 2030 climate target and should provide more federal and provincial funding for clean energy technologies and innovation, according to a new report.

The International Energy Agency has released its 2015 review of Canada’s energy policies, the first of its kind since 2009. It found that Canada was the fifth-largest crude oil and fourth-largest natural gas producer in the world in 2014, and that Canada “maintains one of the most energy-intensive economies among IEA member countries.”

In May 2015, Canada announced it would cut greenhouse-gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. But the report found that the government should set timelines to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from energy-intensive industries if it’s going to meet that goal.

According to the report, emissions from Canada’s oil and gas sector have increased by 14 per cent between 2005 and 2013, and the country’s overall energy consumption has increased by two per cent over the past decade.

The report also found that energy research and development funding has been declining since 2009, and dropped from $1.34 billion in 2013-14 to $941.9 million in 2014-15.

“Canada is in a strong position to foster innovation and become a leader in clean energy technologies,” the report reads. “In order to capitalise on these opportunities, policy action needs to focus on strengthening the public and private energy RD&D [research, development and demonstration] in Canada.”

The report also cautioned that Canada needs to adapt to falling oil and gas prices, brought on partly by shale gas and tight oil development in the United States.

The energy sector continues to play a vital role in Canada’s economic performance, the report found. In 2014, the energy sector contributed 10 per cent of gross domestic product, employed about 280,000 people and accounted for about 30 per cent of Canada’s exports.

The report did find that Canada has made progress in certain sectors, including carbon capture and storage technology, “with four large-scale projects either in operation or under construction in 2015.” It referred specifically to the Boundary Dam project in Saskatchewan and the Shell Quest project in Alberta.

It also praised individual provinces for working to address climate change.

“Provinces and territories have developed ambitious energy and climate policies, ranging from a carbon tax in British Columbia to cap-and-trade mechanisms in Quebec, and in the future in Ontario, to intensity-based reductions for major emitters in Alberta and the phase-out of coal in several provinces.”