JT Steenkamp is a project manager for low-carbon energy projects at Shell and a Fellow of the Energy Futures Lab.
Erin Romanchuk is director of partnerships with the Energy Futures Lab, a coalition of over 60 diverse organizations collaborating to create the future energy system.
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on global energy markets and thrown long-held beliefs about how and why we use energy into question. But it’s also given us the opportunity to form new beliefs – and one that’s gaining traction is the idea that any Canadian rebuilding effort must focus on accelerating the transition toward lower-carbon emission sources of energy.
The International Energy Agency (IEA), for one, has come out strongly in favour of a recovery plan powered by clean energy. “Large-scale investment to boost the development, deployment and integration of clean energy technologies should be a central part of governments’ plans because it will bring the twin benefits of stimulating economies and accelerating clean energy transitions,” IEA director Fatih Birol wrote on the organization’s website in March.
But while the kinds of investments in clean energy being urged by the IEA will help support a range of newer technologies and processes, there’s a much older one whose moment may have finally arrived: carbon capture and storage (CCS), which traps carbon dioxide and transports it to a storage location, usually deep underground.
The technology has already been operating safely in Canada for decades. The Weyburn-Midale Carbon Dioxide Project, which takes CO2 from the Dakota Gasification Company and injects it into depleted oil fields in southern Saskatchewan, has been around since 2000; for a time, it was the largest such project in the world. The Shell-operated Quest facility, which started up in 2015, has already captured and stored more than 5 million tonnes of CO2, more than any onshore CCS facility in the world with dedicated geological storage.
Unfortunately, while the technology has advanced, the economics can be more challenging. Government funding and Alberta’s decade-old industrial carbon tax has made those economics more attractive, but it hasn’t been enough to trigger any major new investments since Quest and the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line were built. For Canada to meet the 2050 net-zero emissions target it has set, it will need many new carbon capture projects to do a lot of the heavy lifting. The good news is, the technology currently used to capture CO2 can be applied to existing industrial sources and growing sectors such as hydrogen production and mineral mining for clean energy battery storage to lower CO2 emissions. As ARC Energy Research Institute analyst Jackie Forrest told The Globe and Mail recently, “There’s no way you’re going to get to net-zero without injecting CO2 and storing it.”
That’s where a new tax credit could come into play. In 2018, the United States enacted a rule called 45Q, which gives industrial manufacturers who capture carbon from their operations up to US$50 per metric tonne if they store it permanently, and up to US$35 if the CO2 is put to use. If we want to advance CCS technology here, we’ll need to use ’carrots’ such as a 45Q measure adapted for Canada.
The province of Alberta can further encourage carbon capture by building out the northern leg of the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line, which is at present a 240-kilometre pipeline that can transport up to 14.6 million tonnes of the CO2 emitted per year by facilities operating in Alberta’s industrial heartland. By connecting the CO2 generated by fertilizer, chemicals, refined fuels and oil sands production to end-users to the south, it would deliver two wins: reducing the energy intensity of fuels and other goods and creating an opportunity to make value-added products from the CO2 they emit.
There’s a potential third win here, and it might be the biggest of all: By creating a more hospitable environment for carbon capture technology, the governments of Alberta and Canada could also help shift the perception of carbon itself. Rather than simply being seen as a cost both in economic and environmental terms, it could be transformed into a potential asset. That asset could seed an entire new economic ecosystem that could create both new jobs and a new source of shared prosperity.
We have a lot of work ahead of us if we’re going to get there, though. First, more carbon capture facilities are needed to drive down costs for future projects through learning, replication, and modularization of equipment. But without the right framework in place, it’s going to be tough for anyone to make that kind of investment decision. And if Canada is serious about achieving its net-zero target in three decades’ time, it’s time for a new priority around CCS and the policies needed to make it happen.
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Report: Women, diversity are key to rebuilding Canada's economy – Wealth Professional
Climbing the ladder
Women and diverse groups are also facing struggles to climb the corporate ladder to senior leadership roles.
“While we are making some progress with women on corporate Boards, reported at 25.3% of directors, the study highlights this doesn’t hold true for racialized women, reported at just 1.2% of directors,” said Zabeen Hirji, Executive Advisor, Future of Work, Deloitte. “White women out-numbering racialized women on corporate boards in Toronto by 12 to 1. The talent is there, it is policies and practices that need to evolve. We need to cast a wider net.”
The challenges are particularly evident in science and technology sectors (STEM).
Occupations within some of the high-growth and high-income sectors reveal the disparity of women trying to advance in STEM fields, generally filling lower-level jobs compared to their higher-level male counterparts.
However, women have made inroads into highly paid professions such as medicine and law.
Gautam Adani debunks GDP rhetoric, says India will be 2nd largest economy by 2050 – Deccan Herald
Billionaire Gautam Adani has debunked the narrow fixation on GDP numbers, saying fundamentals are intact and India will be the second-largest economy by 2050 and has an edge over global peers in terms of business opportunities.
Speaking at the JP Morgan India Summit – Future in Focus, the Adani Group chairman said the AatmaNirbhar Bharat programme will be a game-changer.
“I will state without any hesitation – that – in my view – over the next three decades, India is the world’s greatest business opportunity,” he said.
India’s geostrategic position and massive market size give it an edge over its global peers amid the fundamental political realignment of nations taking shape, he said adding opportunities for India are likely to accelerate on the other side of the pandemic.
“For the sake of the fans of the GDP metric, let’s look at some statistics. The global GDP in 1990 was $38 trillion. Today, 30 years later, this number is $90 trillion. Projecting for another 30 years, in 2050 the global GDP is expected to be about $170 trillion with India becoming the second-largest economy in the world,” he said.
The Indian economy shrank by a record 23.9 per cent in the April-June quarter because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown that followed. The economy is projected to contract for the first time in four decades, in the full year to March 2021.
But Adani said short-term setbacks due to a global crisis cannot be used to write off the country as its fundamentals remain intact.
“The current focus on standardised GDP predictions as against truly understanding what a nation could look like over a decade has unfortunately become one of the primary elements for measuring the health of an economy. In my view, patience and long-term planning and most importantly, an alignment with the government’s business agenda are what creates the greatest value,” he said.
Speaking of challenges holding back India, Adani said that India needs $1.5 to 2 trillion of capital over the next decade but despite key structural reforms such as the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund and Credit Enhancement Fund, capital structure challenges, and lack of empowered and independent regulators remain bottlenecks to nation-building and investment opportunities.
The first generation entrepreneur, who built India’s biggest infrastructure group with interests spanning from seaports to airports and energy, coaxed the audience to look at opportunities through his ‘optimist’ lenses.
“As an entrepreneur, I am an optimist, and therefore the lenses through which I see opportunities may be different than some of yours. I recognise that the view that you cannot build a long-term future on short-term thinking, may not be in alignment with the objectives of certain priorities of the investment community,” he said.
He told the forum to stop viewing all nations through old Western growth metrics.
“Democracy cannot take a cookie-cutter approach and we should accept that different nations will have their own flavour of democracy and capitalism.”
Stating that the AatmaNirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India programme will be a game-changer, he said India building a crumbling supply chain infrastructure that stood exposed to Covid-19, as also a strong head start in digital transformation will help re-build the economy.
India's central bank to keep rates on hold, provide economic forecasts – The Journal Pioneer
By Swati Bhat
MUMBAI (Reuters) – The Reserve Bank of India is expected to keep key rates unchanged this week, but may for the first time since February provide guidance on how the economy is performing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
All 66 respondents in a Reuters poll expect the repo rate to remain unchanged at 4.0% after its policy review on Thursday, and a large majority see no cuts until the January-March quarter. The RBI will then likely stay on hold until the end of 2021.
The central bank must manage high retail inflation while keeping policy accommodative to support an economy which nosedived 23.9% last quarter, the weakest performance on record.
It has so far slashed rates by 115 basis points in response to the COVID-19 pandemic since late March.
“India’s inflation-constrained central bank is unlikely to deliver a rate cut, and we expect all policy rates to stay unchanged,” said Rahul Bajoria, economist with Barclays adding that the RBI will however provide economic projections.
India is gradually reopening its economy from a lockdown but economic activity remains depressed as coronavirus cases top six million, the second-highest globally.
The South Asian country was already facing a cyclical downturn before the pandemic struck and is now expected to mark its first full-year contraction since 1979 this year as millions are left unemployed in the world’s second-most populous country.
The RBI has so far refrained from providing any forecasts on growth or inflation due to the heightened uncertainty and risk of projections having to be revised frequently.
However, the central bank is required by law to provide economic forecasts once every six months.
“Data projections from the central bank will be critical, as it would lay out the RBI’s assessment of the extent of the current slowdown and the medium-term implications of the current crisis,” Bajoria said.
The RBI has maintained that it sees the current rise in inflation as transitional and expects to see prices come down, giving it room to reduce rates to support growth.
August inflation, at 6.69%, held above the top end of the RBI’s medium-term target range of 2-6% for the fifth consecutive month amid supply disruptions.
(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
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