The IEA review, the first since 2015, noted the country’s role as a major producer, consumer and exporter of energy presented “both challenges and opportunities” for reaching its decarbonization targets.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has pledged to cut carbon output 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Energy makes up 10% of Canada’s gross domestic product and the majority of its greenhouse gas emissions come from the oil and gas sector.
IEA Director Fatih Birol praised Canada’s efforts so far to cut greenhouse gas emissions but said further work was needed.
“Canada is definitely in the top league of all those oil-producing countries when it comes to addressing our climate challenge,” Birol told a new conference. “We want to see those strategies being implemented.”
Birol said the world will need oil and gas even while aiming for net-zero emissions by 2050, and he would like that production to come from reliable countries with plans to produce it as cleanly as possible, like Canada.
Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Canada needed to reduce both emissions intensity and consumption of fossil fuels.
“Canada needs to ensure that it’s driving down its own emissions and is providing products that will continue to be used, that are the lowest emissions intensity possible,” Wilkinson said.
To speed up decarbonization of the oil and gas sector, the IEA called for strong action to curb methane emissions and accelerate the rate of innovation in energy technology.
Canada is already developing technologies including carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), clean hydrogen and small-module nuclear reactors, and the IEA said further federal funding for research and development would help speed up progress.
Birol ranked CCUS as one of the top three most critical decarbonization technologies in the world, out of around 800 looked at by the IEA.