Canada can nonetheless be a pure useful resource powerhouse in a net-zero economic system

Canada’s wealth, our financial id, and our monetary booms (and busts) have lengthy been tied to the worth of pure sources inside our borders. We’ve got benefited immeasurably from the pure wealth of those lands: our huge forests, deep lakes, and naturally the reservoirs of oil and gasoline buried beneath our toes.

As we discover ourselves quickly coming into the clear vitality transition, and because the superpower economies of the US and the European Union pivot arduous towards a net-zero 2050, a possibility to transition our personal pure useful resource sectors has emerged.

Local weather motion is more and more being delivered by way of bold industrial coverage, comparable to America’s Inflation Discount Act, which can also be centered on bringing provide chains again dwelling, and strengthening commerce ties with allies and like-minded nations.

Collectively, these developments current a possibility to result in an much more affluent and sustainable economic system for Canada, but it surely requires us to wager on ourselves. Canada has lengthy been a big exporter of pure sources, and the clear vitality transition doesn’t change that.

Quebec, for instance, has a number of the highest-grade iron ore on the earth, making it among the many few choices viable for the following era of metal manufacturing (utilizing a course of often known as the direct discount of iron). Demand for high-quality iron ore is subsequently anticipated to develop considerably.

Saskatchewan, in the meantime, has lengthy been a significant world provider of potash, a crucial fertilizer for agriculture, however with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine chopping off provide from the world’s second largest supply, Canada’s exports greater than doubled between 2021 and 2022.

These are nice examples of rising export alternatives, however maybe extra necessary is what Canada can obtain by harnessing our pure sources to drive value-added development and financial improvement at dwelling. In different phrases, combining our pure useful resource wealth with sensible industrial coverage.

Hydrogen is a superb instance. Canada has the sources to develop inexperienced hydrogen manufacturing capability with entry to considerable freshwater and an electrical energy grid that’s already 84 per cent non-emitting. However we don’t should anticipate a world market to develop for the useful resource, as we are able to use it to develop our export marketplace for low-carbon and next-zero merchandise that rely on hydrogen.

Hydrogen is likely one of the key elements in net-zero metal manufacturing. It’ll even be crucial within the manufacturing of fresh ammonia-based fertilizers, methanol, and a number of commercial chemical compounds with rising low-carbon export markets.

Equally, Canada has lots of the key crucial minerals wanted for electrical automobile (EV) batteries, together with lithium and nickel. Not solely is demand for these minerals exploding, we are able to additionally use them right here in Canada as we develop a whole homegrown provide chain for EV batteries, capturing the roles, mental property, and prosperity that goes with it.

However to unlock this potential, governments must assume strategically about easy methods to finest leverage our pure sources. Clear Vitality Canada has made this case on the subject of batteries, and we’ve known as for net-zero industrial roadmaps for all key heavy industries that use pure sources.

Canada can also’t relaxation on its laurels on the subject of clear electrical energy, which underpins our means to extract and use these sources cleanly. Our lands and shorelines can present virtually limitless clear vitality, however provided that we ambitiously construct out clear era and transmission. For this reason the federal authorities’s forthcoming Clear Electrical energy Regulation (that might see Canada’s energy grid obtain net-zero emissions by 2035) is so necessary. Not solely does it stake out our ambition and drive a transparent market sign for the vitality we want, however it’s crucial in making certain we stay aggressive with our allies and buying and selling companions, who’re equally prioritizing net-zero electrical energy grids. With out it, we threat seeing our grid get dirtier as we attempt to meet demand—and with it, lose our aggressive edge.

Pure sources have a vivid future in Canada. We will construct new commerce ties and assist our associates and allies fill key gaps of their provide chains. However greater than that, our pure sources will be part of our personal story within the new economic system, one the place we seize all of the wealth and alternative they provide, forming a bedrock for jobs, communities, and prosperity for the a long time to come back.

This put up was co-authored by Rachel Doran and initially appeared on The Hill Instances.

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