Are carbon capture and storage in our future?

Climate change is upon us we are told – although it is something we’ve been hearing since 1953.

We are told, the effects of climate change and air pollution over the next several decades require us to become a low-emission society. This constraint will necessitate significant changes to energy systems – both in terms of energy production and consumption - as well as the way we work and live. The issues of climate change and air pollution will clearly present challenges in terms of our ability to mitigate potential effects, as well as our ability to adapt to changing conditions.

The challenge facing most jurisdictions is how to make deep greenhouse gas emission reductions while continuing economic growth - and fossil energy use.

Locally, at Nanticoke, we are a major producer of steel, electricity and petroleum products – again all fossil based, as is much of the economy in our area of Ontario and around the world.

World energy supply is 80 per cent fossil based, and due to growing energy demands in rapidly emerging countries like China, it is forecast to be 82 per cent globally by 2030.

Canada derives 77 per cent of its total primary energy from fossil fuels, and much of its wealth from the production and export of same. In fact, Canada’s oil, natural gas, and coal resources make our country one of the world’s most attractive for investment and development.

But this economic opportunity now comes with challenges - such as requirements to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and manage the impacts of climate change. Canadian GHG emissions are up more than 25 per cent since 1990.

The federal government has announced a national objective to reduce emissions by 20 per cent from current levels by 2020 – Ontario’s goal is 15 per cent – and 60 to 70 per cent by 2050. Nine out of 10 provinces have said they will regulate.

In the past month, two government reports have been released: “Canada’s Fossil Energy Future – The Way Forward on Carbon Capture and Storage” (available at: published by the ecoENERGY Carbon Capture and Storage Task Force – a joint effort of the Minister of Alberta Energy and the Minister of Natural Resources Canada, and “Getting to 2050: Canada’s Transition to a Low-emission Future” (available at: // released a day earlier by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

Canada’s Fossil Energy Future notes that, “global emissions growth will soon drive carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations to levels not seen in 10 million years…”

Carbon capture – or sequestration – is the focus of the ecoENERGY report, stating that carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) is “an innovative process whereby CO2 emissions…are separated….compressed and injected deep in to secure geological formations.” Here in southern Ontario we have just such secure geological formations in the form of the Mount Simon sandstone that runs underneath our area and beyond.

The ecoENERGY report calls on federal and provincial governments to work together in allocating funding to leverage industry investment in CCS projects. I look forward to raising this request when we return to Queens Park later this month.