What Will be 2020's Hot Energy Topics?

December 16, 2019

With the recent Canadian federal election landing on a Liberal minority, energy is going to continue to be a hot topic across the country. Since the Liberal party did not win 50% or more of the seats, but did win more seats than any other party, it will need support from other parties to get legislation passed in the House of Commons. This will require more consensus and collaboration between parties.

Figure 1 shows a breakdown of seats in an electoral map, and Figure 2 is a cartogram map that shows the breakdown of seats by population density.

Figure 1: Canada’s electoral map, Liberal minority, 2019
Figure 2: 2019 Canadian federal election results, Cartogram graph

Looking at the breakdown of seats across Canada it’s pretty apparent that energy policy will be up front and center with party seats being divided somewhat regionally this election. Considering that a minority government relies on consensus and partnership, Energy Exchange is predicting that the following energy topics will be making headlines in 2020.

Carbon pricing
One of the biggest environmental topics in the election was carbon pricing. While the parties had different plans for how they would manage carbon pricing, only the Conservatives wanted to remove it – in contrast, the Liberals, NDP, Bloc Québécois, and Green Party were supporters. In April 2019 any province or territory that did not have an approved carbon pricing plan in place had the federal backstop implemented in their jurisdiction. With some of the provinces (who are currently bound to the federal backstop) submitting new carbon plan proposals to the government, carbon pricing discussions aren’t over.

The Clean Fuel Standard
The Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) is a climate policy that requires all suppliers of fossil fuels in Canada to reduce the carbon intensity (CI) of the fuel they supply over its lifecycle. The aim of the CFS is to gradually lower the carbon content of our energy mix and reduce Canada’s annual carbon emissions by 30 megatonnes by 2030. With liquid fuel regulations expected to come into force in 2022 and gaseous and solid fuel regulations expected to follow in 2023, analysis of the draft policies will be a hot topic in 2020.

Electric vehicle incentives
The Liberal government had previously implemented a $5,000 federal rebate for zero-emission vehicles that cost $45,000 or less, and has set a target of having 30% of all light-duty vehicles on the road be electric by 2030. Both the Bloc Québécois and NDP support electric vehicle incentive policy measures, so the discussion on incentives to advance the uptake of zero-emission vehicles in Canada is going to be prominent.

When the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was proposed it became a contentious topic that was met with some heavy opposition from some and support from others. With the federal government approving and purchasing the pipeline in 2019, and committed to its development, expect the pipeline debate to continue in 2020.

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Exports
In 2020 we’ll see the rise of LNG projects across the country. Shell is leading the LNG Canada project (composed of Shell, PETRONAS, PetroChina, Mitsubishi and KOGAS), which is under construction in Kitimat, and the Woodfibre LNG project is starting up in Squamish. With talks of more projects in Prince Rupert and Nova Scotia, expect lots of conversation on LNG in 2020.