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Canada Sectors

What is Canadaʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

1.5°C aligned targets
Current targets

Power sector in 2030

The power sector would need to be fully decarbonised by 2030 and contribute to negative emissions thereafter to be on 1.5°C compatible. Achieving such a pathway will require ramping up renewable energy in Canada’s power generation from 67% in 2017, to 91–99% by 2030, an earlier phase-out of coal than is currently planned (by 2026, not 2030), and phasing out natural gas between 2026-2033, which the government has not yet considered. Continuing to invest in fossil fuels puts the country at risk of carbon lock-in and high-cost stranded assets.15

Towards a fully decarbonised power sector

The power sector could reach a fully decarbonised power sector by 2030 and become a source of net negative emissions thereafter. To be 1.5°C compatible, the carbon intensity of the power sector would need to reach -10 to -20 gCO₂e/kWh by 2050. This would require Canada to achieve 91-99% renewable energy in the power mix by 2030 and 99-100% by 2050 and contribute to negative emissions thereafter, allowing to balance emissions from other sectors such as agriculture.

1 Office of the Prime Minister of Canada. Prime Minister Trudeau announces increased climate ambition.(2021).

2 Climate Action Tracker. CAT Climate Target Update Tracker: Canada | July 2021 Update. (2021).

3 Climate Action Tracker. Canada. CAT September 2020 Update. (2020).

4 Government of Canada. Regulations Amending the Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-fired Generation of Electricity Regulations. in Canada Gazette Part II, Vol. 152, No. 25, Regulation SOR/2018-263 (2018).

5 Government of Canada. Net-Zero Emissions by 2050.

6 Canada Ministry of the Environment. Bill C-12: An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada’s efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. (House of Commons of Canada, 2020).

7 Government of Canada. Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. in Bill C-12 (2021).

8 Environment and Climate Change Canada. National Inventory Report 1990-2019: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada. (2021).

9 Government of Canada. Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. 1–86. (2016).

10 Environment and Climate Change Canada. A healthy environment and a healthy economy: Canada’s strengthened climate plan to create jobs and support people, communities and the planet.(2020).

11 Government of Canada. Clean Fuel Standard. (2020).

12 Natural Resources Canada. Canadian LNG Projects. (2020).

13 Canada Energy Regulator. Canada’s Energy Future 2020. (2020).

14 IRENA. Renewable Energy Statistics 2020. (2020).

15 Government of Canada. Canada’s coal power phase-out reaches another milestone. (2018).

16 The Government of Canada. Government of Canada working with provinces to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations. (2020).

17 Government of Canada. Clean Fuel Standard. (2020).

18 Transport Canada. Building a green economy: Government of Canada to require 100% of car and passenger truck sales be zero-emission by 2035 in Canada. (2021).

19 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.

Canadaʼs power mix

terawatt-hour per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
20192030204020501 0001 5002 000
20192030204020501 0001 5002 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
20192030204020501 0001 5002 000
Low energy demand
20192030204020501 0001 5002 000
High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
20192030204020501 0001 5002 000
  • Renewables incl. biomass
  • Unabated fossil
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS

Canadaʼs power sector emissions and carbon intensity


  • Historical emissions
  • High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
  • SSP1 Low CDR reliance
  • SSP1 High CDR reliance
  • 100%RE
  • Low energy demand

1.5°C compatible power sector benchmarks

Carbon intensity, renewable generation share, and fossil fuel generation share from illustrative 1.5°C pathways for Canada

Decarbonised power sector by
Carbon intensity of power
−10 to 0
−20 to 0
2029 to 2030
Relative to reference year in %
−98 to −97%
−106 to −100%
−117 to −103%
Year of phase-out
Share of unabated coal
Share of unabated gas
0 to 1
2027 to 2034
Share of renewable energy
90 to 99
97 to 100
99 to 100
Share of unabated fossil fuel
0 to 1


Demand shifting towards the power sector

The 1.5°C compatible pathways analysed here tend to show a strong increase in power generation and installed capacities across time compared with a current policy scenario. This is because end-use sectors (such as transport, buildings or industry) are increasingly electrified under 1.5°C compatible pathways, shifting energy demand to the power sector. Globally, the “high energy demand” entails a particularly high degree of renewable energy-based electrification across the various sectors, and sees a considerable increase in renewable energy capacities over time. See the power section for capacities deployment under the various models.

Canadaʼs renewable electricity investments

Billion USD / yr


Yearly investment requirements in renewable energy

Across the set of 1.5°C pathways that we have analysed, annual investments in renewable energy excluding BECCS increase in Canada to be on the order of USD 10 to 48 billion by 2030 and 11 to 64 billion by 2040 depending on the scenario considered. The ‘high energy demand, low CDR reliance’ pathway shows a particularly high increase in renewable capacity investments, which could be driven by an increase of electrification of end-use sectors and growing energy demand. Other modelled pathways have relatively lower investments in renewables and rely to varying degrees on other technologies and measures such as energy efficiency and negative emissions technologies, of which the later can require high up-front investments.