TORONTO — Federal targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from Canadian homes face major challenges, according to a new report from the economic think-tank the C.D. Howe Institute.
Report authors Charles DeLand and Alexander Vanderhoof did a reality check on Ottawa’s plan to bring down 2030 building emissions in Canada by 42 per cent compared to 2019, with the entire economy producing net-zero emissions by 2050.
On a Canada-wide basis, they find that meeting the 2050 target will cost between $4.5 billion to $6.3 billion per year. On a cumulative basis from 2018 to 2050, this represents a total of $143 billion to $203 billion (in 2022 dollars).
“Numbers like these show that other emissions-reducing measures will have to bear more of the burden,” says DeLand, the institute’s associate director, research. “These include energy efficiency improvements to homes, building code revisions, and combining heat pumps with traditional natural gas furnaces.”
The report was titled Only Hot Air? The Implications of Replacing Gas and Oil in Canadian Homes.
To assess the target, the authors examine current sources of emissions from Canadian homes and present a scenario in which homes using gas or oil to heat air and water are retrofitted with electrical heat pumps.
“Our modelling finds that Canada would need to retrofit over 400,000 dwellings per year to fully electrify all dwellings by 2050 and meeting 2030 targets requires even more aggressive action: over half a million retrofits would be required per year,” said DeLand. “Even in an extreme scenario where no new emitting buildings came on the market after 2022, emissions only fall by about 26 per cent to 2030, still not enough to meet government targets.”
DeLand and Vanderhoof determine to meet the 2030 reduction target of 42 per cent, not only would no zero new emitting homes need to be built after 2022, but the annual rate of retrofits would need to rise to 516,000 per year.
The goal of a net-zero residential buildings sector is ambitious and won’t be cheap, concludes DeLand.