It's Time to Embrace Canada's Greenhouse Gas Technology Leadership

  • National Newswatch

With the Canadian government introducing legislation mandating net-zero emissions by 2050, Canada has now bound the government, and future generations of citizens, to a process of achieving net-zero emissions. In so doing, Canada joins a global movement to guide human behavior and address climate change. While we have already undertaken significant initiatives, the journey to net-zero emissions will require a number of pathways, including the removal of atmospheric carbon.The math clearly shows that to reach net zero, it will not be enough to reduce or even eliminate new greenhouse gas emissions. We will need to actually remove some of the carbon dioxide (CO2) already in our air. While a huge undertaking, necessitating large-scale deployment of negative emissions and near-zero fuel technologies, Canada is already a leader in these innovations. In fact, Canada is now positioned to be a global leader in CO2-fighting technology.Many corporations, including energy producers, are making similar commitments to reduce their carbon impacts. Occidental Petroleum announced last week a commitment to achieve net-zero emissions from its operational footprint by 2040, and from the use of its products by 2050. To make this happen, Occidental will combine Canadian-made technology with some of the world's leading CO2 management expertise, as well as dedicated infrastructure in the Permian Basin. As a result, the company is evolving into a prominent carbon management player.Occidental's plan to reach these ambitious targets relies heavily on the ability to capture CO2 from the atmosphere, a process known as Direct Air Capture (DAC), and permanently store it in deep, carefully regulated underground reservoirs. Its DAC technology comes via BC-based Carbon Engineering, in which Occidental is one of the largest shareholders. Developed at the University of Calgary by David Keith, now a Harvard professor, the technology isn't merely aspirational; the company has a had demonstration plant operational in Squamish, British Columbia since 2015.For Occidental this has been a “contrarian approach” in fighting climate change. Occidental CEO Vicki Hollub, an engineer who became the first woman to lead an American oil company, noted that negative emissions technologies reduce emissions when the fuel is burned by downstream consumers, dealing with impacts that are furthest from the control of the energy company.Canada's groundbreaking DAC technology, our experience and favorable geology in Alberta and Saskatchewan for carbon sequestration, as well as our natural advantages, create an opportunity not only to show Canadian climate leadership but also to leverage these carbon-friendly capabilities to strengthen Canada's economy. All while helping everyone benefit from atmospheric carbon reduction, regardless of where that carbon is removed and stored.Captured atmospheric CO2 can also be used to produce synthetic fuels, another field in which Canada is on the forefront. Carbon Engineering and Vancouver-based partner Huron Clean Energy offer near-zero carbon fuels or “electro fuels”. This clean burning, cost effective fuel would be made by combining atmospheric CO2 and green hydrogen, made from Canada's abundant supplies of water and renewable green electricity.Hydrogen has enormous potential to reduce Canadian and global emissions. However, the timetable for widespread introduction may be constrained by the need for significant change in our industrial and transportation infrastructure. Electro fuels allow green hydrogen to be kept as a liquid fuel which is easily stored, transported and used as a “pour in” substitute for fossil fuels. Using these fuels in existing vehicles would accelerate transportation GHG reduction benefits, especially for heavy or long-haul transport where today's electric vehicles are not yet practical.All of these Canadian-born technologies are ready. Ready to help make real progress in the fight against climate change—while at the same time representing a unique and compelling business opportunity for Canada. As we prepare to present a credible plan for 2050 net-zero emissions at the 26th UN climate change conference next year, we should recognize and promote Canadian innovations. Because we will not be engaging merely as a participant. We will be joining them as a truly pre-eminent global powerhouse in the development of ground-breaking, practical and cost-effective negative emissions technology.

Michael Hutchison, an entrepreneur, is one of the largest shareholders in Carbon Engineering and, as President of Huron Clean Energy, the exclusive Canadian developer for Carbon Engineering's technology.