Canada’s wealth, our financial identification, and our monetary booms (and busts) have lengthy been tied to the worth of pure assets inside our borders. We’ve got benefited immeasurably from the pure wealth of those lands: our huge forests, deep lakes, and naturally the reservoirs of oil and gasoline buried beneath our ft.
As we discover ourselves quickly getting into the clear vitality transition, and because the superpower economies of america and the European Union pivot laborious towards a net-zero 2050, a chance to transition our personal pure useful resource sectors has emerged.
Local weather motion is more and more being delivered by means of formidable industrial coverage, similar to America’s Inflation Reduction Act, which can also be centered on bringing provide chains again house, and strengthening commerce ties with allies and like-minded nations.
Collectively, these tendencies current a chance to result in an much more affluent and sustainable financial system for Canada, but it surely requires us to guess on ourselves. Canada has lengthy been a major exporter of pure assets, and the clear vitality transition doesn’t change that.
Quebec, for instance, has a number of the highest-grade iron ore on this planet, making it among the few options viable for the next generation of steel production (utilizing a course of referred to as the direct reduction of iron). Demand for high-quality iron ore is subsequently expected to grow significantly.
Saskatchewan, in the meantime, has lengthy been a serious world provider of potash, a essential fertilizer for agriculture, however with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine slicing off provide from the world’s second largest supply, Canada’s exports more than doubled between 2021 and 2022.
These are nice examples of rising export alternatives, however maybe extra necessary is what Canada can obtain by harnessing our pure assets to drive value-added development and financial improvement at house. In different phrases, combining our pure useful resource wealth with sensible industrial coverage.
Hydrogen is a superb instance. Canada has the assets to develop inexperienced hydrogen manufacturing capability with entry to plentiful freshwater and an electrical energy grid that’s already 84 per cent non-emitting. However we don’t must wait for a global market to develop for the resource, as we will use it to develop our export marketplace for low-carbon and next-zero merchandise that rely on hydrogen.
Hydrogen is likely one of the key ingredients in net-zero steel production. It is going to even be essential within the manufacturing of fresh ammonia-based fertilizers, methanol, and a bunch of commercial chemical substances with growing low-carbon export markets.
Equally, Canada has lots of the key essential minerals wanted for electrical automobile (EV) batteries, together with lithium and nickel. Not solely is demand for these minerals exploding, we will additionally use them right here in Canada as we develop a whole homegrown provide chain for EV batteries, capturing the roles, mental property, and prosperity that goes with it.
However to unlock this potential, governments must assume strategically about tips on how to finest leverage our pure assets. Clear Vitality Canada has made this case with regards to batteries, and we’ve got referred to as for net-zero industrial roadmaps for all key heavy industries that use pure assets.
Canada can also’t relaxation on its laurels with regards to clear electrical energy, which underpins our capability to extract and use these assets cleanly. Our lands and shorelines can present nearly limitless clear vitality, however provided that we ambitiously construct out clear era and transmission. For this reason the federal authorities’s forthcoming Clear Electrical energy Regulation (that might see Canada’s energy grid obtain net-zero emissions by 2035) is so necessary. Not solely does it stake out our ambition and drive a transparent market sign for the vitality we want, however it’s essential in guaranteeing we stay aggressive with our allies and buying and selling companions, who are similarly prioritizing net-zero electrical energy grids. With out it, we threat seeing our grid get dirtier as we attempt to meet demand—and with it, lose our aggressive edge.
Pure assets have a vibrant future in Canada. We are able to construct new commerce ties and assist our mates and allies fill key gaps of their provide chains. However greater than that, our pure assets could be part of our personal story within the new financial system, one the place we seize all of the wealth and alternative they provide, forming a bedrock for jobs, communities, and prosperity for the many years to come back.
This publish was co-authored by Rachel Doran and initially appeared on The Hill Times.