Hurry, Canada, or we’ll miss out on the decarbonization revolution

Local weather and vitality had been once more excessive on the agenda on the current G7 Summit following a file yr of funding in clear vitality. And with good purpose: the member international locations are house to 40 per cent of world GDP and 1 / 4 of the world’s emissions, giving them sufficient collective financial clout to have a big influence on the vitality transition.

Because the seven members navigate this transition, one space has popped up lots in emissions-related discussions over the past couple of years: heavy business. The sector — which incorporates metal, cement and chemical compounds — makes up about 1 / 4 of world vitality emissions.

In Canada, heavy business’s share of emissions is a bit smaller at 11 per cent — nonetheless vital, however typically overshadowed by the oil and fuel sector’s headline-making 28 per cent share.

This yr’s G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communiqué made quite a few references to decarbonizing business, together with consumers golf equipment (the place governments or personal firms comply with collectively purchase cleaner supplies), knowledge assortment on emissions depth, and the significance of creating the infrastructure for key applied sciences like hydrogen and carbon seize and storage.

And but challenges stay past acknowledging the function and significance of those options. Many decarbonization approaches are nonetheless of their early phases of growth and their price is usually a sticking level in a worldwide and extremely aggressive market.

In response, a lot of our G7 friends are pouring billions into slicing carbon from their heavy industries. The U.S.’s Inflation Discount Act provided a US$370-billion shot within the arm for clear vitality and industrial transformation.

The European Union launched its Inexperienced Deal Industrial Plan, and international locations together with Germany, France, and Japan have launched a number of demonstration tasks for near-zero metal and cement.

The funding isn’t merely an emissions crucial, it’s additionally an financial one. As international net-zero commitments mount, demand for cleaner merchandise is rising. The international locations that act early stand to change into leaders in a decarbonized future.

As our G7 counterparts cost forward on industrial decarbonization, Canada should additionally act ambitiously or threat falling to the again of the pack, in keeping with a brand new Clear Power Canada white paper.

The excellent news is that Canada’s comparatively clear electrical energy provide, present world-class industries and educated workforce give it a built-in head begin within the industrial decarbonization race.

Canada has additionally made plenty of formidable spending commitments, together with $25 billion in federal authorities funding for cleaner fuels, applied sciences and companies. Finances 2023 included funding tax credit for carbon seize and clear hydrogen. And Canada has already launched a number of near-zero know-how demonstration tasks.

What’s extra, the federal authorities has stepped up on the world stage, actively taking part in worldwide standard-setting boards, such because the Industrial Deep Decarbonization Initiative. With rising competitors for inexperienced industries (assume the battle to maintain the Stellantis EV plant in Windsor), worldwide requirements can construct a degree taking part in discipline for Canada to compete with the U.S. and others.

Nevertheless, Canada dangers falling behind in three key areas.

First, in distinction to France, the U.Okay., and different international locations, Canada doesn’t have a transparent, overarching technique for industrial decarbonization, and just one sector (concrete and cement) has printed a co-developed sectoral pathway to web zero. This might be a missed alternative for co-ordinated motion and for offering certainty to buyers.

Second, our insurance policies that tackle essential demand-side gaps stay underdeveloped. In a number of G7 international locations, governments are utilizing their very own shopping for energy to create a marketplace for cleaner business. The U.S.’s new federal Purchase Clear Initiative prioritizes the procurement of low-carbon metal, concrete, asphalt and glass, whereas the European Union’s Large Patrons for Local weather and Atmosphere helps native and regional governments in shopping for low-carbon supplies. Canada is working by itself Purchase Clear technique, however the pace and scale of motion stay decrease than some G7 companions.

Lastly, Canada must hone in on decarbonization actions like the place they’ll create essentially the most worth, utilizing our present benefits, reminiscent of producing inexperienced hydrogen, leveraging our low-emitting electrical energy grid to quickly electrify heavy business processes, or utilizing our present experience within the manufacturing of business chemical compounds and re-apply these abilities and data to supply low-carbon options. Throughout the G7 international locations, industrial decarbonization approaches deal with what every nation does finest, or the place their pure assets present a transparent alternative.

Finances 2023 took essential steps ahead, however there’s nonetheless room for strategic coverage and funding — reminiscent of constructing out our clear vitality capability and making certain we have now the infrastructure to ship clear hydrogen and transport captured carbon.

Sweden, for instance, has lower than a 3rd of Canada’s GDP however double the variety of clear metal demonstration tasks. It’s no coincidence it was a Swedish firm that introduced the first fossil-free metal to market in 2021.

With the net-zero transition accelerating around the globe, we’re at a key juncture. If we make the precise strategic choices and investments within the coming years, Canada stands to be a hub for clear applied sciences and a pacesetter in industrial decarbonization. However with out clear visions and key insurance policies in place, Canada dangers trailing behind our largest allies and buying and selling companions.

This put up was co-authored by Jana Elbrecht and initially appeared on Canada’s Nationwide Observer.

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