Electricity Generation from Fossil Fuels

Electricity and energy in the G20.

Patrick O'Rourke, CFA 403-539-8615

Electricity Generation from Fossil Fuels
While headlines often tout total carbon emission numbers which unproportionally assign global carbon emissions to nations which have been blessed with vast fossil fuel resources, we are highlighting the weighting of fossil fuels in a country’s total electricity generation. With multiple sources of electricity generation available beyond fossil fuels, including nuclear, wind, solar, hydro, etc., the percentage of a nation’s electricity generation coming from fossil fuels provides a less biased representation of a countries' conscious contributions to global emissions than looking at headline emissions alone.

Canada Continues to Unfairly Vilify Itself
Recent news articles continue to vilify Canada, often citing our greenhouse gas emissions relative to our population. We believe that these per- capita metrics unfairly portray Canada, which has been blessed with vast natural resources which help meet the global demand for hydrocarbons and as result raise the global standard of living. In contrast, looking at Canada’s electricity generation—a source of hydrocarbon demand that is within our control—it can be seen that Canada has made many efforts to diversify its electricity generation, with only 24% of the country’s total electricity generation coming from fossil fuels, ranking it sixth best out of 42 countries measured. This metric is even more impressive when considering that Canada is a top five global oil producer, yet places among the bottom quartile for percent of electricity generation from fossil fuels. While most countries derive electricity from whatever is most efficient in their country, Canada continues to vilify itself for the relatively small proportion of our energy provided by hydrocarbon sources—to the detriment of our broader economy.

What Other Countries Can Learn from Canada
Any serious reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels must be driven by decreases in demand. With a multitude of alternative fuel sources available, countries that are serious about climate change will not hide behind their per-capita emission numbers, but rather pursue technological advancement and electricity generation policies which address their countries demand for hydrocarbons, starting with efforts to reduce the most carbon intensive fuel sources such as coal.

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