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100% renewable by 2050 is doable

If you said, one year ago, that being 100% renewable by 2050 was possible, chances are you’d be laughed out of the room. Let’s remember, it wasn’t long ago that star NDP candidate Linda McQuaig was raked over the coals for suggesting, “a lot of the oilsands oil may have to stay in the ground” for Canada to meet its climate change targets. 

Times have changed.

34 Council of Canadians chapters joined others in their communities to say that a 100% clean economy is 100% possible by 2050 in the lead up to the Paris climate talks. This included a 25,000 strong march in Ottawa. 

While the Paris agreement fails to live up to this target, instead opting for the weaker ‘net zero’ emissions allowing for loads of loopholes in how we get there (for more on the Paris agreement, check out these blogs), acknowledging the need to sunset the fossil fuel industry is becoming practically common place in main stream media.

The work of Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson has been critical in seeing this demand increasingly received as credible – which of course it is.

We aren’t talking fairy dust and unicorn hairs.

We’re talking large scale and distributed solar, wind power, use of existing (not new) hydro and other renewable sources such as geothermal. We’re talking about dramatically improving energy efficiency (think building retrofits and changing the requirements for new buildings) and re-thinking our transportation systems, including a massive scaling up of public systems.

Mark Jacobson was recently interviewed by the Globe and Mail about his work, which you can read here.

He says this target is scientifically and economically doable for Canada. Notably, it does not include nuclear or new hydro power. 

You can also check out this useful infographic from The Solutions Project, which Jacobson is part of, with a few more details on what this transition would look like in Canada.

The breakdown of energy sources by 2050 in Canada would include (from the infographic):

  • Residential rooftop solar 1.5%

  • Solar PV plant 17.7%

  • Onshore wind 37.5%

  • Commercial/govt rooftop solar 1.7%

  • Wave energy 2%

  • Geothermal 1.9%

  • Hydroelectric 16.5%

  • Tidal turbine 0.2%

The infographic further says this transition will generate 290,716 construction jobs and 460,013 operation jobs.

To read Jacobson’s more detailed work, visit here.

There is also Greenpeace’s key report that also underscores the 2050 renewable target you can read here.

As 100% renewable by 2050 becomes increasingly established, the debates over how exactly we achieve this and who has power in this process will be key. For more on this, check out Naomi Klein’s beautiful solutions project and the Leap Manifesto