At 7:30 yesterday evening in Paris (12:30 in the afternoon in Saskatchewan) the COP21 negotiations formally concluded when the 'Paris Agreement' was adopted following these now historic words from the French foreign minister and President of COP-21, Laurent Fabius;

Je regarde la salle, je vois que la réaction est positive, je n’entends pas d’objection, l’accord de Paris pour le climat est accepté !

The Agreement will certainly have its fair share of critics. The far-right will whinge about government over-reach while environmental groups will complain it doesn't do enough. The commitments enshrined within it are not legally binding and, as with any national or international pact, are subject to change. The funds available to assist less developed nations are limited and there is no carbon price.

The Paris Agreement certainly does not solve climate change: but and because international relations is the art of the possible in the face of competing national interests, it was never going to do that anyway. The Agreement does however represent a paradigm shift for the international community on the climate change file because it is the first which requires virtually every country in the world to set out its plans to avert climate change and then to update those plans every five years.  

Its four key measures;

• To peak greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of GHGs in the second half of this century
• To keep the global temperature increase "well below" 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to1.5C
• To review progress every five years
• $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.

The Agreement compares the global carbon budget needed to meet the aforementioned 2C limit with the total expected carbon budget derived from the sum of the country-specific Indicative Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

In fact the Agreement itself recognises that existing INDCs are insufficient to reach the 2C target.

Nonetheless that is not the point which is that you can't manage what you don't measure. In future countries will have to prepare their carbon budgets, in accordance with international standards, and their performance relative to those targets will then be open to public and international scrutiny. That scrutiny, it is hoped, will be enough to force emissions down towards the level needed to hit the 2C and subsequently also the 1.5C, target.  In short: name and shame.



Prime Minister Trudeau issued this statement regarding the Agreement - notably;  

I will meet with the Premiers within the next 90 days to work on a plan to meet our international commitments in tackling climate change and transitioning to a low carbon economy. Along with the provinces and territories, we will work with a wide array of stakeholders – and all Canadians – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including through carbon pricing.

Alternatively try this from south of the border;



The Agreement will enter into force once it has been ratified by at least 55 nations representing at least 55 percent of global GHG emissions. 



Implications for Canada 

Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol Canada had committed to reducing emissions to 560 million tonnes (MT) by 2010. However emissions rose steadily since 1997 and the Harper government formally withdrew Canada from the Protocol in 2012 when emissions were about 30 percent above the Kyoto target. Canada was the first and, thus far, only Kyoto signatory to withdraw from the Protocol.

Canadian emissions in 2013 (the latest year available) were 726 MT.

Canada's INDC for the COP21 negotiations in Paris envisaged that national GHG emissions, by 2030, would be reduced to around 510 million tonnes or 30 percent below 2005 levels. The Harper administration did very little to ensure those targets would be achieved and, at the time of the INDC submission earlier this year, they were considered to be unattainable.  Nonetheless the Trudeau administration appears to have much more ambitious targets AND concrete plans to meet them. 

In fact on 23 November and in the first Premiers' meeting since 2009, all agreed on the need for Canada to do more to reduce GHG emissions and to rehabilitate the country’s international image from laggard to leader. It was, by the way, not a coincidence that this was the same day SaskPower revealed their new goal of 50 percent renewables by 2030 (see below for details).

At that 23 November meeting PM Trudeau announced  that the Premiers will meet again "in the next three months" to conclude a national climate strategy that will include a national target and a program of action. 



...and for Saskatchewan and its power generation sector..

There will be considerable horse-trading involved in the aforementioned 'National Climate Strategy' however it seems reasonable to conclude that Saskatchewan and SaskPower, will at the least have to reduce emissions in accordance with our national INDC - i.e. by 30 percent relative to 2005 levels.

What does that mean specifically? Saskatchewan 2005 GHG emissions were 70.9 MT of which the power generation sector contributed 15.3 MT. The corresponding figures for 2013 (the last year available) was 74.8 MT and 16 MT.  This implies that, to meet the INDC target - SaskPower will need to reduce emissions from 16 MT to 10.7 MT by 2030: a decline of 5.3 MT or 33 percent. This is summarised in the following;

Source: Canada 2015 National Inventory Report. Table A10-16 '1990-2013 GHG Emission Summary from Saskatchewan'. SaskWind estimates

As noted above and as per our previous blog, SaskPower has already submitted its vision of how electricity will be generated by 2030. Will it be enough to meet the 2030 goal?

In short: yes and here's why.

Although not yet part of the official Canadian 'NIR' submission to the United Nations, the SaskPower 2014 Annual Report advised a system average emission intensity of 660 kilograms of CO2 per megawatt hour (kg/MWh) or total GHG emissions of 15.4 MT .

On 24-Nov SaskPower announced an ambitious (and eminently achievable) renewable energy target of 50 percent of total installed generating capacity by 2030. This translates into about 44 percent of total electricity generation by the same date. That generation will, by virtue of being renewable, obviously have zero GHG emissions. 

As concerns the remaining 56 percent: we know that 3 percent of it will be produced by Boundary Dam with a very low emission rate of 110 kilograms per megawatt hour of generation (kg/MWh). We also know that, due to the Federal 'Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-fired Generation of Electricity Regulations' which entered into force in July, all of the remaining non-renewable capacity must have an emission rate no more than that of natural gas (i.e. 600 kg/MWh).

This material is summarised below;

Source: SaskPower 2014 Annual Report + SaskWind calculations
NB the emission intensity of gas-fired generation is, through technological advances etc, assumed to decline from 613 to 600 kg/MWh by 2030
* Renewables actually only generated 23% of 2014 electricity - however for the purpose of this analysis we have assumed that all imports are renewables which is not true but is not material for the purpose of this exercise.

It is interesting to see that total 2030 GHG emissions, in accordance with SaskPower's 23 November renewable energy plan, will be just under 11 MT which is almost exactly the same as the 10.7 MT which is likely to be the requirement arising from the Paris Agreement.

Progress indeed!

So now we have the 2030 targets together with SaskPower's commitment to meeting them. The next step will be a detailed program, ideally year by year, for the implementation/roll-out of those targets. That is something which, in concert with SaskPower and other interested parties, we look forward to developing through 2016.