David Gooderham

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



The Canada Energy Regulator on June 20, 2023, released its new report Canada’s Energy Future 2023. For the first time the Federal Government’s energy regulator has directly addressed whether the currently projected growth of oil production in Canada to 2040 and 2050 is compatible with keeping increased warming to 1.5°C. The regulator’s analysis is based on three scenarios. Only the CER’s first scenario, the “Global Net-zero Scenario” (stated to be based on the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) “Net-Zero by 2050 Scenario”), is aligned with limiting warming to 1.5°C. That would require a very dramatic reduction in Canada’s existing oil production level which, according to the CER, is currently projected to reach 5.6 million bpd by 2026. Under the Global Net-zero Scenario, starting after 2030 Canada’s oil production must decline sharply to 2.8 million bpd by 2040 and fall to 1.2 million bpd by 2050. The CER’s second scenario, the “Canada Net-zero Scenario”, projects much higher levels of oil and gas production through to 2040 and beyond. The CER acknowledges that its second scenario aligns with warming of 1.7°C. This paper identifies the un-examined assumptions and climate implications that underlie the second scenario, which has been given the comforting and eco-friendly name (“Canada Net-zero”) and is presented by the CER as a plausible and acceptable alternative pathway. I argue that in this case, which involves the most complex expert evidence, policy decisions must be informed by an independent public inquiry process, not by discussions behind the “closed doors” of the CER.