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A New Gem: A Baseline for Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2030

Glen Hodgson, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist, Forecasting and Analysis
May 25, 2010

Economic forecasts are not for everyone, but any organization that is serious about business and policy planning is probably using one to establish a foundation for that planning exercise.

And there are gems hidden within economic forecasts. The Conference Board of Canada’s latest gem is a baseline outlook for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through to 2030, in the Canadian Outlook: Long-Term Economic Forecast.

This outlook will allow Canadian governments and businesses to track their progress in reducing GHG emissions as firms adapt to a low-carbon future, and as climate change policies are introduced and implemented.

A Long History for Long-Term Forecast

The Conference Board has 50 years of experience in producing economic forecasts and has published a long-term forecast (now to 2030) since 1992. This forecast, which the Board updates annually for subscribers, provides detailed long-term outlooks for the Canadian labour market, the rate of capital investment, overall economic growth, government balances, and other key variables.

This outlook will allow Canadian governments and businesses to track their progress in reducing GHG emissions.

Thanks to the long-term forecast, the Conference Board has been able to beat the drum about looming labour shortages that will affect our economy, and to tackle issues as diverse as immigration, population aging, health care, education, fiscal sustainability, and productivity—long before these were mainstream priorities.

The Next Step: A Baseline Outlook for GHG Emissions

Adding GHG emissions to the long-term forecast was a logical next step, since GHG levels are directly tied to the economic outlook and the level of economic activity. To produce the GHG forecast, the Conference Board expanded and updated about 60 industrial sectors within the national forecasting model, and identified GHG production trends for each sector and for households between 1990 and 2007. This level of detail makes it possible to tie GHG emissions accurately to industrial output and household consumption, and to trace production and emissions patterns. Under a status quo scenario, the baseline outlook estimates that GHG emissions in 2030 will surpass 2007 levels by 49 per cent, rising from an estimated 724 megatonnes in 2007 to 1,080 megatonnes in 2030.

Tools to Assess Policies

As policies to mitigate climate change are introduced and implemented, emissions intensities and the energy mix should change. In projecting Canadian GHG emissions over the next 20 years, the Conference Board has created the quantitative tools with which to assess the impact of specific policies on reducing emissions and helping Canada meet its long-term emissions targets.

For now, the Conference Board is producing the GHG emissions forecast at the national level as part of its annual long-term forecasting exercise. The Board can also do forecasts for individual provinces if there is sufficient interest, building on the foundational work it has already done.

In sum, Conference Board clients will receive added value from a forecast of Canada’s GHG emissions—an added “gem” within the long-term economic forecast.

Glen Hodgson Glen Hodgson
Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist,
Forecasting and Analysis
Canadian Outlook: Long-Term Economic Forecast

Related Publications
Canadian Outlook: Economic Forecast—Spring 2010
Carbon Disclosure Project Report 2009: Canada 200
Freight Trucks and Climate Change Policy: Mitigating CO2 Emissions
Getting the Balance Right: The Oil Sands, Exporting and Sustainability
Global Climate-Friendly Trade: Canada’s Chance to Clean Up
Provincial Outlook: Long-Term Economic Forecast—2010

Related Networks
Centre for Clean Energy
Leaders Roundtable on Climate Change Adaptation