This article was published in December 2020 and may be outdated.
With abundant green, clean, renewable hydropower, Manitoba is poised to lead the country under proposed federal legislation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as part of the fight against climate change.
The federal government introduced Bill C-12 in Parliament on November 19. The proposed legislation would require that national targets for the reduction of GHG emissions be set for the years 2030, 2035, 2040, and 2045 with the goal of attaining national net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. GHG emission reduction plans, progress reports, and assessment reports would need to be tabled in Parliament for each milestone to ensure transparency and accountability in meeting these targets.
Using the latest available figures for 2019, Manitoba Hydro’s electrical operations are among the least GHG-intensive of all electrical utilities in the country, emitting approximately 0.88 tonnes of GHGs per gigawatt-hour (t/GWh) of power generated. For context, the 2018 GHG emission intensity of electrical generation across Canada as a whole was approximately 120 t/GWh, with Ontario at 29 t/GWh and Québec 1.3 t/GWh.
On a local scale, GHG emissions from Manitoba Hydro’s electricity and natural gas operations are also less than one per cent of total provincial GHG emissions, and the province as a whole contributes less than three per cent of Canada’s national GHG emissions. Total GHG emissions from Manitoba Hydro’s operations in 2019 were 0.11 megatonnes. This equates to Manitoba Hydro contributing less than 0.1 per cent of national electrical generation emissions.
“At Manitoba Hydro, we’re proud of our climate change performance,” said Lorne Midford, Vice-President of Asset Planning & Delivery for Manitoba Hydro. “Manitobans should know that the development of hydropower over the past 110 years has put us head and shoulders ahead of other regions in having a virtually non-emitting electricity system.”
Midford said that when you take into account estimated GHG emissions displaced in jurisdictions outside the province through Manitoba Hydro’s electricity exports (where those exports displace fossil-fuelled electricity generation), the Crown corporation displaces more GHG emissions than it produces — about seven megatonnes annually.
“While we can’t formally account for those reductions in Manitoba, as the reductions are counted in the regions where they occur, it’s important to remember that from the perspective of the earth’s atmosphere, it doesn’t matter where GHG reductions are located,” Midford said.
“From that point-of-view, we are making a meaningful difference in helping mitigate global climate change.”
Manitoba Hydro’s strategy to respond to climate change includes continuing to further reduce global GHG emissions by enhancing the generation output of existing generating stations, and continually looking at how wind, solar and a wide array of emerging electricity technologies such as batteries and bio-energy systems may fit in future energy supply planning. As the energy landscape evolves, Manitoba Hydro continues to monitor trends in the electrification of transportation, as well as the adoption of heat pumps, geothermal systems and other energy-related technologies that will be of significant importance going forward. The corporation also periodically produces a Climate Change Report to provide insight into its response to climate change, with the latest published in 2020.
Staff from the utility also participate in climate change working groups across the country to share ideas with professionals in similar industries on topics related to physical climate impacts and adaptation, in addition to GHG reduction strategies.
“It’s all part of our efforts to help ensure we continue to be a climate change leader in the utility industry as we move towards a net zero world,” said Midford.
Manitoba Hydro’s full 96-page Climate Change Report (PDF, 9.9 MB).
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