Greenpeace report challenges Canada’s need for dirty, risky fossil fuels

Feature story - September 9, 2010
(Toronto) — Greenpeace today released a comprehensive analysis of Canada’s energy potential that challenges the need for dirty oil from the tar sands and shows that Canada can create tens of thousands of green jobs, while providing over 90 per cent of the country’s electricity and heating needs from renewable sources by 2050.

“Greenpeace worked with energy experts to show how Canada can break its addiction to dirty tar sands oil, coal and gas and save consumers $5.3 billion a year by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency,” said Keith Stewart, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner. “We challenge the oil industry and governments to lay out their plan for protecting Canadians from climate change and rising costs for fossil fuels. It’s past time for this debate.”

Download the report (PDF)

The new research is in a report, Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable Energy Outlook for Canada, prepared by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) in conjunction with dozens of experts around the world (1). It shows that:

• Low-impact renewable energy can supply 96 per cent of electricity and 92 per cent of our total heating needs by 2050.

• Renewable sources of energy would rise from 15 per cent of Canada’s primary energy demand today, to 25 per cent by 2020 and 74 per cent by 2050.

• Primary energy demand would drop by 50 per cent through aggressive energy efficiency measures and reliance on wind, sun and other cost-free fuels,

• Canadians would save about $135 per person a year or $5.3 billion on average on their energy bills over the next 40 years, as we use less energy and switch away from increasingly costly fossil fuels,

• The market for the dirty oil of the tar sands could be eliminated through a global scenario of investments in public transit, more efficient vehicles and a rapid shift to electric vehicles that would reduce the world’s demand for oil by 25 per cent by 2030 and 66 per cent by 2050,

• About 77,000 jobs would be created in Canada in the renewables sector alone by 2030, as part of a global expansion of 12 million jobs,

• Energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in Canada would drop by 21 per cent by 2020, and by 95 per cent by 2050,

• Canada would cut its greenhouse gas emissions to the levels international scientists say would protect people from the catastrophic climate change now threatening millions,

• Canada could make a fair contribution to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries, in line with our historic responsibility for creating the problem and capacity to pay.

Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable Energy Outlook for Canada

"Unlike other energy scenarios that promote energy futures at the cost of the climate, our energy revolution scenario shows how to save money and create good, green jobs without fuelling catastrophic climate change," said Sven Teske, Greenpeace energy expert and co-author of the report.

“Canada has vast renewable energy potential that can replace expensive and unsustainable fossil fuels and nuclear,” said Christine Lins, Secretary-General of the European Renewable Energy Council, the world’s largest industry association for renewable energy. “The renewable industry is ready and able to deliver the needed capacity to make the energy revolution a reality. There is no technical impediment, only political barriers to rebuilding the global energy sector."

At present Canada’s continued reliance on fossil fuels is part of a global problem that makes massive climate change almost certain to occur, leading to irreparable damage to the planet. This dire future can be avoided through the Energy [R]evolution with major investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“There is no future for the tar sands in a world that is taking action on global warming," said Dave Martin, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner. "The good news for Canada, with its wealth of renewable energy resources, is that there are a lot more jobs in stopping global warming than in fuelling it."

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More information at

- backgrounder

- executive summary

- full Energy [R]evolution report (9 megabytes)

(1) The report was prepared by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), in conjunction with specialists from the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), the Dutch Institute Ecofys and more than 30 scientists and engineers from universities, institutes and the renewable energy industry around the world.

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