How Canadian cleantech tops global lists, a retirement job for old EV batteries, and why climate change could 'blow up the economy'


‘Your inaction is fuelling the flames’

If you could sum up the recent World Economic Forum in Davos in one word, it would be “climate.” In fact, the forum’s annual risk survey found that climate-related issues have usurped all other potential risks, from cyber attacks to terrorism. 

As Bank of England Governor Mark Carney put it, “something which was largely on the periphery of finance has come into the mainstream.” Even Larry Fink’s—the head of global investment fund BlackRock—wardrobe choices showed the effects of climate change (click here if you'd like an explanation).

But despite the clamor of climate conversation, it remains to be seen if the world’s biggest businesses and billionaires will put their money where their mouth is. “Will we see a walking of the talking?” as one business leader put it. Teen activist Greta Thunberg doesn’t seem to think so, as she told delegates in her characteristically candid speech, “our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fuelling the flames by the hour. We are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else.” 

Weathering 2019

2019 was a remarkable year. It was the warmest on record for the oceans, the lowest for sea ice levels, and the highest for greenhouse gas concentrations. If you want to better understand what that means, dive into Carbon Brief’sState of the Climate” summary for some interactive charts and useful explanations.

In 2020, everyone needs a credible climate plan

In the wake of the Australian bushfires is a trail of political debris. It should be a wake-up call to governing political parties—and parties hoping to govern in the future. In 2020, every party should have a strong and credible climate and energy transition plan—and that includes the Conservatives. As Conservative MP Michael Chong told CBC, “this is an issue that came up a lot for Conservatives at the door, that didn't pass muster to earn the confidence and a mandate from Canadians."

Canada tops the cleantech charts

Once again, Canada is showing its international cleantech prowess. For the second year in a row, 12 Canadian companies have made it into the prestigious Cleantech 100, which recognizes “innovative ventures tackling the planet's most pressing environmental issues.” The companies—like Ontario-based Opus Solutions, which manages clean power grids, or B.C.-based Minesense, which creates clean machinery for the mining industry—were selected from 13,000 entrants. 

The week in electrification

Quebec-based media and communications company Quebecor has announced plans to electrify its 1,100-strong fleet of vehicles. Meanwhile in Nova Scotia, Halifax Transit is making a transit transition by hiring a full-time fleet transformation manager who will be tasked with shifting the authority’s 353 buses and five ferries to low-and-zero-emissions versions.

The secret to long life

(If you’re a battery). Some old electric car batteries in Ohio will now live a third longer while enjoying a pretty good retirement job: storing renewable power. American Electric Power and Nissan Motor Co. are testing a new technology that will see old Nissan Leaf batteries used in cheap grid storage systems. The new process is thought to slash costs of a typical grid storage system from US$286 to about $150 per kilowatt hour.

The future of home heating

Blizzards in Newfoundland, freezing rain in Quebec, even snow on the ground in Vancouver—Canadians have more reasons than most to keep the heating on. But staying warm currently comes with a hefty carbon price tag. Roughly 20% of Canada’s emissions are from buildings, largely due to gas-powered heating systems. But as Fin MacDonald, program manager of the Zero Carbon Building program, put it, "the only fuel that we can truly make 100% carbon neutral is electricity." Have a read of CBC’s summary of some pollution-free ways to keep cosy.

Welcoming a new institute

This month we welcome the new Canadian Institute for Climate Choices. The institute aims to “help Canadian decision makers chart a course toward a clean, resilient and prosperous future.” Canadians want to fight climate change, and it’s crucial they understand the best ways to do it. The institute's work will play an important role providing evidence-based policy options.  It will help political parties better inform their positions and Canadians better inform what they expect of their leaders. As the saying goes, knowledge is (clean) power.

VW faces the music

German automaker Volkswagen is paying for their emissions scandal in the form of a $196.5-million fine. The company is convicted of cheated emissions tests and subsequently importing the cars which violated the standards. The money will be paid into the Environmental Damages Fund and split proportionally among jurisdictions according to the number of affected sales.

‘Banks aren’t ready’

As the recent visitors to Davos are realizing, the climate crisis won't just affect the environment. The central banks are the pillars that support the global economy, and without action now, the climate crisis has the potential to deal them a fatal blow. As this New York Times piece puts it, “climate change could blow up the economy. Banks aren’t ready.”

Preparations are underway for the 2020 GLOBE business summit in Vancouver. GLOBE is turning 30 this year, and in celebration, it profiled Clean Energy Canada executive director Merran Smith, along with several other “very impactful people.” GLOBE 2020 will be held in February. If you’d like to receive 15% off registration, you can sign up here using our discount code: CEC15.

Clean Energy Review is sponsored in part by Genus Capital Management, a leading provider of fossil-fuel-free investments. 
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IMAGE & MEDIA CREDITS: World Economic Forum / Manuel LopezBloomberg
Clean Energy Review is a weekly digest of climate and clean energy news and insight from across Canada and around the world.

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