Our response to COVID-19, how the pandemic could spell opportunity—or disaster—for climate, and the long term outlook for electric vehicles


Our response to COVID-19

These unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, and Clean Energy Canada is taking steps to ensure we do our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

All Clean Energy Canada staff are working from home for the foreseeable future. That said, we will continue working hard toward a clean energy future for Canada. After all, climate change will not cease to affect Canadians during this crisis—and it will continue to do so once we overcome it.

We are monitoring the situation closely and rethinking our near-term work to adjust to this new political and economic reality. We will continue sharing and discussing clean energy and climate issues, although there may be some changes as we remain mindful of the evolving situation.

The Clean Energy Review, will still bring you the latest clean energy news every Monday, as will our social media pages, though there may be fewer stories to share.

Our research and policy work continues, though it too has evolved, and in the coming months, we will be commenting on how our economy recovers from this pandemic in a way that is sustainable, resilient, and clean.

We’ll get through this together. I hope you and all of your loved ones are healthy and safe. Our thoughts are with you.

Risks and hope

While we navigate this new reality, financial markets are recording unprecedented volatility as “business as usual” lies in a state of indefinite suspense. Overcoming, and recovering from, this pandemic will require extraordinary global measures. And with it come risks—but also hope.

Government stimulus packages to kickstart economic growth provide an unmissable opportunity to invest in “structural changes” to reduce emissions as the economy regrows. As the executive director of the International Energy Agency put it, “clean energy technologies should be a central part of governments’ plans because it will bring the twin benefits of stimulating economies and accelerating clean energy transitions.”

After all, the need for clean energy will continue after the pandemic is over, as the head of Lightsource BP (which just closed a deal for a 260-megawatt solar farm in Texas) said, “it’s important to keep our focus on a clean energy future.” Indeed, as this Globe and Mail op-ed reads, “during this crisis, and in its long recovery, it would be a terrible waste if we did not spend in ways that also make the world a cleaner and more resilient place.”

Hitting reboot

This recession has dealt a heavy blow to the oil and gas sector with the price of oil reaching new lows and some oilsands projects described as being on “life support.” But we must be smart in how we reboot the sector, as our deputy director Dan Woynillowicz told the National Observer. Funnelling stimulus dollars to pollution-cutting initiatives will have a more lasting benefit, which could create jobs and help the competitiveness of the sector in terms of its climate performance.

Beyond pipelines

When talking about national infrastructure projects, pipelines have been the conversation fodder of choice. But as we move into a new electrified age, where our cars and buildings are heated and powered by the grid, a new kind of infrastructure-building is needed. Lateral, cross-province power networks, like the $18.7-million federal government project announced earlier this month between Manitoba and Saskatchewan, will boost transmission capacity between provinces.

‘Everything is related’

As emissions plateau in the new COVID world, many are asking what the pandemic has to do with climate change. But as Candian climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe said in a tweet last week, “the short answer is, very little; but the long answer is, everything is related.” Ultimately, as Hayhoe pointed out in the New York Times, it is the health and safety of our friends and family that matters. “That’s what the coronavirus pandemic threatens, and that’s exactly what climate change does, too.”

The effect on EVs

There’s no doubt that the near-term global downturn is going to be bad for the automarket. And as gas prices plummet, it could spell trouble for the electric vehicle sector as gas-powered vehicles become more economical to refuel. But concerns around air quality and climate change are ever-present—and electric cars will only get cheaper, with Bloomberg suggesting COVID will not change their long-term trajectory. And with companies like Samsung developing new batteries that will reportedly create 800 kilometers of range, electric vehicles may well be unstoppable. 

The next generation of road transportation

In Canada, two new electric vehicles are transforming the automarket. And not just because they’re both electric. Canadian-made Damon Motorcycles has created a next-generation electric bike that is cleaner, safer and quieter than its gas-powered predecessors. Meanwhile, B.C.-based Electra Meccanica is planning to open a new manufacturing plant as it expands its production of single-person electric city cars into the U.S. market. 

We're hiring!

Interested in getting Canadians excited about the clean energy transition? Here's your chance to work on the front lines of our national conversation. Clean Energy Canada is hiring a digital communications specialist. You—or your talented friend—can learn more about the job and how to apply here. Not to brag, but we just won an award from Simon Fraser University for our social media efforts. It's a winning team, literally. (Full disclosure: I'm biased.)

Clean Energy Review is sponsored in part by Genus Capital Management, a leading provider of fossil-fuel-free investments. 
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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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