Canada Lags in IRENA Assessment of Global Clean Energy Trajectory
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) sees little future for Canada’s tar sands/oil sands by mid-century, according to the National Observer’s analysis of the Dubai-based agency’s latest forecast of global energy supply and its transition away from carbon.
According to IRENA and the International Energy Agency, which collaborated on the report, the world will need to invest 0.4% of global GDP through 2050 if it wishes to stabilize climate change at less than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. As the Observer’s Mike De Souza reports, the $29-trillion effort would see governments “‘immediately and comprehensively’ deploy new policies to avoid stranded investments in fossil fuel infrastructure, which could include expensive oil and gas projects or new pipelines that would not be needed in the future.”
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IRENA’s report singled out Canada, along with India, Turkey, and the United States, for their unambitious climate plans.
The agency’s outlook anticipates that “by 2050, nearly 95% of electricity would be low-carbon, 70% of new cars would be electric, the entire existing building stock would have been retrofitted, and the CO2 intensity of the industrial sector would be 80% lower than today.” Oil demand would be less than of half today’s level, with the most expensive-to-produce resources “no longer exploited.” Separately, Bloomberg calculates that IRENA’s outlook could force fossil energy producers to abandon reserves currently valued at $10 trillion.
“Such a scenario,” De Souza writes, “could translate into economic trouble for Canada’s oil-rich province of Alberta, which has the planet’s third-largest reserves of crude oil, but some of the highest production costs.”
In what may be bellwethers of the industry’s future, he observes, “in recent months several multinational oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, Total, and Statoil have cashed out their investments in Alberta’s oilsands.”