Canada’s Progress Towards Zero-Emissions by 2050 

With leading scientists warning of an undeniable global climate crisis, it is of utmost importance for every country’s leaders to promote efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Part of this strategy is converting the burning of fossil fuels to clean technology alternatives that reduce carbon output and produce on clean energy. This has been one of Canada’s goals for many years since 2016 when more than 120 other countries signed to reduce carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement. While there has been progress made by Canada in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we need to accelerate the pace to achieve net-zero emissions by the year 2050 and to achieve earlier goals by 2030.  

To meet these goals, Canadian government funding programs for clean technology innovation projects support business efforts towards sustainability such as improving their processes, products, and systems to lower emissions across all various sectors in the country.  

“It’s promising to see Canada starting to make tangible progress in reducing carbon pollution, especially coming out of the pandemic.”  
– Rick Smith, President of the Canadian Climate Institute 

This article will explore the data showing how Canada has already made progress towards zero-emissions goals by 2050 and what funding is currently being allocated to maximize the push towards clean technology that lowers emissions and creates a better environment for all. 

Data Highlighting Progress Towards Canada’s Zero-Emissions Goals by 2050 

According to 440 Megatonnes, a research project overseen by the Canadian Climate Institute think tank, Canada generated 691 megatonnes of carbon emissions in 2021. While still significant, this is 6.4% lower emissions than 2019.  

Moreover, the report states that this is a critical indicator of climate progress in Canada. Two of the biggest sources of emissions in Canada, the oil and gas and transportation sectors, have been making significant changes. If these trends continue, emissions will continue to lower in positive change. 

“After a decade or more of inaction on climate, the new government began to implement a series of climate policies, all of which took time to develop and roll out. So, one would only just start to see emissions decoupling from economic growth, but in coming years, the decoupling should be more pronounced if we keep the same policies in place and keep ramping up stringency.” 
– Tom Green, Climate Policy Analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation 

Despite this progress, the report states that Canada’s decline in emission intensity will need to increase to 6.3% per year to meet goals set for 2030 and hit the 2050 target of a fully net-zero economy.  

The 440 Megatonnes report also states that zero-emissions progress may appear stagnant in the short term but is more promising when considering the longer term. Canada is making progress in separating economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions, a process known as “decoupling,” as emissions per unit of economic output are now 27.5 per cent below 2005 levels when the Paris Agreement was first proposed.  

Canadian Research and Innovation to Confront the Global Climate Crisis 

On June 29, 2021, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act became law, enshrining Canada’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 in legislation. 

To meet Canada’s overall zero-emissions targets, emissions reduction must outpace economic growth by five percentage points annually. If gross domestic product averages growth of 1.5% between 2022 and 2030, then emissions will have to drop by about five% each year to continue lowering carbon emissions to meet goals. 

“We need to redouble our efforts to bring down emissions more quickly, given the extreme weather and climate damages we are already seeing at only 1C of temperature change.” 
– Tom Green, Climate Policy Analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation 

A report published in February of 2021, titled Canada’s Net Zero Future: Finding Our Way in the Global Transition, outlines several efforts Canada is taking to continue progress towards a net-zero economy, including: 

  • Increasing energy efficiency of buildings by switching to electric heat sources and clean gases; 
  • Improving transportation by moving towards clean energy sources, offsetting fossil fuels, and increasing the use of public and active transit; 
  • Helping industry cut their carbon emissions by providing guidance, support, and funding for alternative clean technology solutions; and  
  • Encouraging nature-based and engineered forms of negative emissions solutions through research and innovation programs such as the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program.  

Government Grants, Loans, and Tax Credits for Clean Technology Innovation  

To meet net-zero goals by 2050, the Government of Canada has introduced billions in funding for clean technology and innovation projects. Federal programs include the Net-Zero Accelerator Fund which has $8 billion in funding to help large emitters reduce their emissions. 

Other programs such as the Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities Program offer funding to support projects focusing on renewable energy technology, energy efficiency, or alternative heating.  

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