jeudi Mars 21, 2024

Does a Natural Gas Ban Fit Into Canada’s Net-Zero Future?

What lessons can Canada learn from natural gas bans in other parts of the world?

Montreal, New York City, and Vancouver are the latest additions to a growing list of cities across North America banning natural gas in new buildings. The move—intended to combat rising building emissions by replacing oil and gas with zero-emission heating systems—has been met with everything from enthusiasm to outrage, as building developers and policymakers grapple with how to meet heating needs while driving down building emissions by 2050.

The phaseout of natural gas, which experts acknowledge is critical to meeting net zero goals, faces a bumpy road. From the U.S. to Europe, concerns have been raised around the readiness of regional grids to handle a surge in electricity demand, while energy incumbents are highlighting the benefits of burning natural gas over oil, and state and provincial governments are clashing with municipalities on whether—and how—to get off gas.

What lessons can Canada learn from natural gas bans in other parts of the world? Is banning natural gas in new construction a viable decarbonization pathway for Canadian municipalities? The Transition Accelerator held a timely discussion on the use of natural gas in building electrification, highlighting best practices from other countries at the forefront of the transition.

Co-presented by the Building Decarbonization Alliance, an initiative of the Transition Accelerator aimed at accelerating the electrification of Canada’s buildings. For an in-depth look at how governments across Canada, the US, and Europe are currently using policy to transition building heating towards non-emitting energy sources, be sure to read their recently released Jurisdictional Scan: Building Heating Decarbonization.

Résumé du webinaire

Is a natural gas ban an effective tool in the race to decarbonize buildings? Gas bans are complex and polarizing, effective in some cities like Montreal, divisive in others (Berkeley, California’s gas ban was quickly overturned).

Transitioning off fossil fuels, including the ones we burn to heat homes and buildings across the country, is a necessary step for Canada to reach its climate goals. While bans elicit a range of complicated reactions, the health, economic, and climate benefits of electrified, gas-free buildings is much clearer, shared experts on this webinar.

Read on for highlights from our discussion with experts from RMI, Climate Action Network Europe, the Canadian Gas Association, and the Building Decarbonization Alliance debated how, and if, gas bans fit into building decarbonization efforts.

“In the United States today, there’s no significant difference in the cost to build an all-electric, zero-emission home,” says Russel Unger, Principal for Carbon-Free Buildings at RMI, while also noting the relatively minor grid impacts of electrifying new residential buildings. Unger says many U.S. homeowners don’t really care how their home is heated—they just want it to be warm enough. “There’s nothing to stop us going forward with building all-electric emission-free buildings today.”

“The moment you start talking about removing any kind of choice, you’re going to spark an emotional reaction. So fundamentally we think of a ban as the wrong way,” says Paul Cheliak, Vice President of Strategy and Delivery at the Canadian Gas Association, who raised questions about market response and grid readiness for fully electrified buildings.

“The business case for building electrification makes a lot of financial sense with savings essentially starting on day one,” shared Matt Poirier, Policy Director at the Building Decarbonization Alliance, a non-partisan and cross-sector coalition working to accelerate the transition to electrified buildings.

This conversation isn’t only about heating, according to Mónica Vidal Sánchez, Campaigns Coordinator for Climate Action Network Europe. “We need to talk about the people really using these systems,” stresses Sánchez. “In countries like Spain, people are choosing a heat pump for new builds. Why? Because in Spain, cooling needs are even more important than heating.”

Personnes invitées

Dan Wicklum, PhD

Directeur général

Dr. Dan Wicklum possède 25 ans d’expérience dans la gestion de la recherche, le soutien à l’innovation et la promotion de la collaboration entre l’industrie, des gouvernements, des universités et de la société civile.

Il est le Directeur général de l’Accélérateur de transition, un organisme de bienfaisance pancanadien qui travaille avec des groupes dans tout le pays pour résoudre des problèmes commerciaux et sociaux tout en établissant des voies de transition viables vers un avenir carboneutre. Dan a également été le premier coprésident du Groupe consultatif pour la carboneutralité (GCPC), un groupe d’experts Canadiens indépendants qui conseille le gouvernement fédéral sur l’atteinte de la carboneutralité d’ici 2050 et sur les voies les plus probantes pour y parvenir.

Avant de se joindre à l’Accélérateur de transition, Dan était PDG de l’Alliance canadienne pour l’innovation dans le secteur des sables bitumineux (COSIA), directeur exécutif du Conseil canadien de l’innovation forestière et cadre supérieur à Environnement et Changement climatique Canada et à Ressources naturelles Canada. Il a été professeur adjoint de recherche à l’université du Montana, et détient un doctorat en écologie aquatique de l’université du Montana. Il a commencé sa carrière dans le football professionnel comme secondeur pour les Stampeders de Calgary et les Blue Bombers de Winnipeg.

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Personnes invitées

Mathieu Poirier

Directeur des politiques, Décarbonation des bâtiments

Matt est fier de traduire les résultats de la recherche en solutions concrètes qui soutiennent la transition vers l’énergie propre. Il possède plus de 10 ans d’expérience dans la collaboration avec les gouvernements, les services publics et l’industrie pour décarboner l’environnement bâti. Avant d’occuper ce poste, Matt a été consultant chez Dunsky Energy + Climate Advisors et Deloitte, et a travaillé dans l’industrie et dans des organisations à but non lucratif en se concentrant sur la conception de bâtiments écologiques et l’analyse juridique. Il est diplômé en génie mécanique et en psychologie de l’Université de Waterloo, en droit, avec des spécialisations en droit de l’environnement et en droit des affaires, de l’Université Dalhousie, et il est également titulaire d’un MBA de l’Université Saint Mary’s.

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Mónica Vidal Sánchez

Campaigns Coordinator, Climate Action Network Europe

Mónica Vidal Sánchez is the Campaigns Coordinator at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, with over 15 years’ experience leading initiatives to decarbonize buildings and promote sustainable heating solutions across Europe, such as #WarmHomes4ALL & #BuildBetterLives. Previously, she was the director of the public policy and climate governance programme at ECODES, a Spanish NGO shaping energy policy across Europe and fostering collaboration between business, NGOs and policymakers. Her academic background is in Environmental Sciences with a Masters in Industrial Ecology.

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Paul Cheliak

Vice President, Strategy and Delivery, Canadian Gas Association

Paul Cheliak is the Vice President of Strategy and Delivery Public and Regulatory Affairs with the Canadian Gas Association in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The CGA is the national voice for Canada’s natural gas distribution companies who deliver gas energy to over 25 million Canadians.  Paul leads CGA’s overall business strategy with members and develops the thinking behind the future of the regulated energy delivery industry in Canada. Prior to joining CGA, Paul worked with Natural Resources Canada – Canada’s federal resource department – providing natural gas market and policy advice to the Department’s senior management and also with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on an Indigenous commercial fisheries program. Paul lives in Ottawa with his wife and two daughters and is an avid (but not necessarily successful) fisherman.

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Russell Unger

Principal, Rocky Mountain Institute

Russell leads single-family strategy for RMI’s Carbon-Free Buildings program. Before joining RMI, Russell devoted 20 years to advancing environmental and social justice policy in New York. As the Founding Executive Director of Urban Green Council, Russell steered two citywide commissions on green building and resiliency, resulting in over 60 significant code revisions. His prior roles at the New York City Council and Mayor’s Office focused on sustainability, incarceration practices, and fire safety.

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