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Banning fossil-fuel heating inevitable and costly

October 27, 2022

Most fossil-fuel heating systems are banned in new homes in Vancouver, B.C. and Quebec. Other jurisdictions are also looking at outlawing natural gas and oil-fired heating in favour of electricity.
It is part of Canada’s signature status under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and methane in a bid to moderate climate change. Canada has also committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
In 2022, Vancouver ruled that all equipment for space and water heating in new low-rise residential buildings must be zero-emission, which means they cannot burn fossil fuels even though British Columbia is attempting to become a major global exporter of natural gas. By 2025, all new and replacement heating and hot water systems must be zero-emission.
Quebec, which banned oil-powered heating in new construction in 2021, has made it illegal to replace existing furnaces with gas or oil-fired heating of any kind as of December 31, 2023.
Both B.C. and Quebec have extensive hydro-generating electric power, but Canada will need to double or triple clean-energy electric production to hit zero-emission targets by 2030, experts say.
The federal government plans to ban fossil-fueled cars and light trucks in favour of plug-in electrics by 2035. This will put unprecedented demand on the production of electricity.
"Such a shift will require significant regulatory action," according to the International Energy Agency, that will require the federal government to work closely with Alberta and Saskatchewan, which control most fossil-fuel power generation and distribution.
Aside from the politics—provincial governments in both Alberta and Saskatchewan are resistant to federal controls on energy production—the cost of net zero is quite expensive.
Earlier in 2022, RBC released The $2 Trillion Transition: Planning for Canada’s Place in a Net Zero World,” which estimated the cost at around $60 billion to $80 billion annually to 2050.
But it is possible, the report stated, noting the cost is equivalent to less than the total annual spending on health care.
“It seems like a daunting number, but when you break it down, it’s manageable for an economy like Canada,” said John Stackhouse, senior vice-president, office of the CEO at Royal Bank of Canada and a co-author of the report.


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