The sixth assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was a stark reminder for all of us. Human activities are causing climate change, including extreme weather events that are becoming more severe and more frequent. The science is clear. The world needs immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

GHG emissions can be attributed to transportation, buildings, industry, agriculture and electricity generation. In many Canadian Provinces the carbon intensity from electricity generation is currently relatively low thanks to hydroelectricity and nuclear energy.

Deep decarbonization will require an aggressive pursuit of opportunities for energy efficiency and electrification in all sectors. The Canadian Nuclear Workers’ Council (CNWC) has commissioned a series of policy papers to explore these opportunities, sector by sector. The papers recommend ways that we can begin now to electrify equipment and processes that are currently fossil powered and GHG emitting. Electrifying will have immediate benefits for health, safety, and quality of life, with GHGs, air pollution, and noise reduced if not eliminated. All are necessary in order for Canada to meet its international commitments to reducing GHGs.

These policy papers are meant to be living documents, and will be updated as this transformation evolves.

In parallel with electrification, Canada needs to further reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation and ensure any new sources of electricity are reliable and emissions-free. We mention above that most Canadian provinces’ electricity is clean. That’s true today, but there’s a real danger it will reverse in at least one province.

In Ontario, the Power Workers’ Union released a report by Strategic Policy Economics, Electrification Pathways Report. The report examines efforts to achieve Net-Zero by 2050, and underlines the need to consider the impact of these efforts on electricity demand, and the need to take that into consideration in Ontario’s electricity supply planning process. The report warns that Ontario will face an electricity supply shortage and reliability risks in the next 4 to 8 years, and that it cannot hope to meet its climate change objectives without new nuclear.

We need more non-emitting electricity and nuclear energy can provide that. The CNWC believes nuclear energy will be an important part of our fight to avert more dramatic effects of climate change than we have already seen. We know how to do this but we need to take action now.

We need to eliminate our use of fossil fuels and electrification presents many opportunities to do that. Whether we’re going for a drive, riding on transit, cutting our grass, tilling our garden, making a blockbuster movie, constructing a building, heating our homes and businesses, operating a food truck or cooking a burger; we can plug in to do it. With electricity, we can do it without GHG emissions, without air pollution and without the noise.

docx iconClick here to download the Introducing the CNWC Electrification Policy Paper Series in Microsoft Word format format