The greenhouse gas emissions caused by our energy system threaten a sustainable future. To overcome this threat, we need to transition towards cleaner energy forms. We have to change nearly everything around us: from the way we heat our homes, to the ways we power our planes and produce our steel. My research focuses on how we can achieve this transition and on the environmental justice implications for people like you and me.

My passion is to establish a symbiotic relationship with our planet and with one another.


Technology, technology, technology: an integrated assessment of deep decarbonization pathways for the Canadian oil sands
Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Energy Strategy Reviews

Candelaria Bergero, Matthew Binsted, Osama Younis, Evan G.R. Davies, Muhammad-Shahid Siddiqui, Rui Xing, Evan J. Arbuckle, Diego V. Chiappori, Jay Fuhrman, Haewon McJeon, Nick Macaluso

DOI:  10.1016/j.esr.2022.100804
As a party to the Paris Agreement, Canada has an ambitious climate target of net-zero emissions by 2050. The country also holds the world's third largest oil reserves in the Alberta oil sands. Given increasing emissions from the oil sands sector, achieving Canada's net-zero target requires significant oil sands decarbonization. If, while phasing out fossil fuels, there is still a demand for Canadian oil sands, then the decarbonization of the resource production process becomes crucial. In this study, we use an enhanced version of the Global Change Analysis Model (GCAM) with a detailed unconventional oil sector for Canada, including mining and in situ resources. We ask, what is the future of the oil sands sector in deeply decarbonized global and Canadian economies? We address this question under four mitigation scenarios with varying global net-zero GHG emissions constraints, three additional representative lower carbon extraction technologies available for the oil sands sector, as well as global direct air capture (DAC) deployment. We find that lower carbon technology deployment allows a 20%44% increase in oil sands production by 2050 for scenarios with net-zero GHG emissions in 2100 or 2075. DAC helps maintain oil sands production in the most ambitious global decarbonization scenario (net-zero GHG by 2050), without which low international oil demand makes Canadian oil sands production uncompetitive. Canadian oil sands production thus depends highly on the availability of lower carbon extraction technologies and international oil demand, which to a certain extent relies on the availability and global deployment of negative emissions technologies.

Canadian Unconventional Oil Production and Carbon Intensity (Existing Technologies vs. Lower Carbon Technologies, No DAC) Panel A. Canadian Unconventional Oil Production in EJ Panel B. Canadian Unconventional Oil Production Carbon Intensity in MtCO2 per EJ
Canadian Unconventional Oil Production by Technology (Lower Carbon Technologies, DAC). Panel A. By scenario, years 2015–2050 Panel B. By years 2030 and 2050, all scenarios.
Oil sands modeling in GCAM includes an unconventional oil resource extracted through mining and in situ processes by different technologies. The extracted unconventional oil is then refined and demanded by the three end-use sectors from GCAM: industry, buildings, and transportation.