Our process helps Canada achieve sustainable development solutions that integrate environmental and economic considerations to ensure the lasting prosperity and well-being of our nation.


We rigorously research and conduct high quality analysis on issues of sustainable development. Our thinking is original and thought provoking.


We convene opinion leaders and experts from across Canada around our table to share their knowledge and diverse perspectives. We stimulate debate and integrate polarities. We create a context for possibilities to emerge.


We generate ideas and provide realistic solutions to advise governments, Parliament and Canadians. We proceed with resolve and optimism to bring Canada’s economy and environment closer together.

Getting to 2050: Canada’s Transition to a Low-Emission Future – Research

In the fall of 2006, the Government of Canada asked the NRT to provide advice on how Canada could significantly reduce its GHG and air pollutant emissions by 2050. This Reference enabled us to explore the economic and environmental implications associated with such a low-emission future. Original economic modelling considering a range of possible scenarios was conducted to assess the economic and environmental impacts of transitions.

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In October 2006, the federal government introduced Canada’s Clean Air Act to Parliament along with the Notice of Intent to Develop and Implement Regulations and Other Measures to Reduce Air Emissions. The Act and the Notice set out the government’s proposed plan to develop short-term regulations for GHG and air pollutant emission reductions in the industrial sectors and to a lesser extent in other areas of the economy. Section 10 of the Notice identified a role for the NRTEE, which was reiterated and enhanced through a Letter of Reference from the Minister of the Environment to the NRTEE in November 2006. 

On GHG emissions reductions, the Reference was specific in its request for advice on:

  • Medium-term emissions reduction targets for 2020–2025 for GHG emission reductions for a number of specified industry sectors;
  • A long-term (2050) national emissions target that should be adopted within the range for a 45% to 65% reduction from 2003 levels; and
  • Scenarios for achieving such a target.

On air pollutants, the Reference requested advice on long-term (2050) national emission reduction targets for sulphur dioxide (SOX), nitrogen oxide (NOX), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter (PM), for a number of specified industrial sectors.

The NRTEE focused our advice on the following:

For taking action on GHG emission reductions:

  • Scenarios for achieving deep emission reduction targets;
  • Policy options for the attainment of deep emission reduction targets; and
  • Environmental and economic cost implications of attaining medium- (2020) and long-term (2050) emissions reduction targets, including national, regional and sectoral effects.

For taking action on air pollutant emission reductions:

  • Economic costs associated with significant emission reduction targets for NOX, SOX, VOCs and PM;
  • Sectoral and regional implications of 50% emission reductions of these air pollutants; and
  • An integrated approach to policy that addresses both GHG and air pollutant emissions concurrently.

The NRTEE was also asked to provide advice on national ambient air quality objectives.