Why Canada is on some international companies' wish lists, an 'explosive and disruptive' trend, and a new podcast to start off your week


Feeling the heat

“Climate change is not just an environmental and economic threat. It’s also a threat to public health—and policy isn’t keeping up.” Such are the opening words of a new report from the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices, which explores the impact of climate change on the health of Canadians.

As the institute's director of adaptation told CTV News, Canada is facing a climate-change-induced public health crisis, “the consequences of which will disproportionately be borne by those who are already grappling with an outsized share of health inequities.” From more food-borne illnesses to increasing cases of tick-borne Lyme disease, the impacts are far-reaching.

The report was joined the same week by a new study that found that more than a third of heat-related deaths in many parts of the world can be attributed to climate change. And with early summer heatwaves already breaking temperature records and a hot, dry summer predicted for much of Canada, it’s clear that urgent action to mitigate, adapt, and prepare for the effects of climate change is essential.

An ‘interesting destination’

The Canadian government is reportedly in talks with German chemical giant BASF SE to establish electric vehicle battery production facilities in Canada, with BASF describing Canada as an “interesting destination for potential production.” BASF isn’t the only international company eyeing Canada's battery opportunity, with Australian miner Wyloo Metals making an unsolicited bid for Canadian nickel-copper miner Noront Resources amid a global “scramble for battery metals.”

The key to success

Canada has the right ingredients to be successful in the EV battery sector, but it must also strive to be a sustainable and responsible producer. After all, potential purchasers, like Tesla, are actively seeking ethically sourced metals and minerals with lower carbon footprints. As Clean Energy Canada’s Joanna Kyriazis told CBC, that means “electrifying mining operations wherever possible, engaging Indigenous communities in project development and ownership, and supporting battery recycling.”

The adoption curve

There’s no doubt that EV adoption is picking up pace. So much so that some are comparing it to other technology adoption trends like the internet, which saw a slow start followed by rapid and exponential growth. As this BBC journalist put it, the internet “didn't gradually evolve, giving us all time to plan ahead. Its growth was explosive and disruptive.” And with carmakers from Volvo to Volkswagen announcing electrification plans, it seems Big Auto has seen the writing on the wall.

The gas station redefined

Most gasoline sales in the U.S. happen at convenience stores. It’s a simple business model: you stop for gas and maybe pick up a bag of chips while you’re at it. But as more people swap pump for plug, the market is shifting, and industry giant 7-Eleven is hoping to get ahead of the trend. The company said last week it will install 500 charging stations at 250 locations across North America by the end of next year. Except, unlike the gas pumps, the stations will be owned and operated by the retailer itself.

This week’s listening

Indigenous Clean Energy has released the first episode of its new podcast, Decolonizing Power, which will “take listeners on the journey of three community-driven clean energy microgrid projects from Indigenous, Islanded and Unelectrified perspectives.” As co-host Freddie Huppé Campbell puts it in the first episode, the podcast is “about sharing stories and experiences from communities that are bound together by energy, and are driving forward a just and sustainable energy transition.” I highly recommend listening and subscribing. 

Concrete action

The federal government and the Cement Association of Canada have agreed on a roadmap for low-carbon concrete production to provide “the technologies, tools and policy needed to hit the target of net-zero carbon concrete by 2050.” The two said in a joint statement that the partnership has the “potential to reduce over 15 megatonnes of GHGs cumulatively by 2030, and then ongoing reductions of over four megatonnes annually.”

Cleantech conundrums

Canada is not short of great cleantech ideas, companies, and talent. But it has a perennial problem: keeping them in Canada. As the CEO of Sustainable Development Technology Canada said, “Once technology is proven, and companies get past the commercialization stage, they often get funded and acquired by larger players from the United States and elsewhere.” To solve the problem, Canada needs a strategy to retain its innovators.

Decarbonizing commercial vehicles

As the Clean Energy Ministerial wrapped up last week in Chile, Canada was one of eight countries calling for a global effort to accelerate the manufacturing and adoption of zero-emission commercial vehicles, like buses and trucks. The move comes after Canada made the Drive to Zero pledge, committing to support cleaner commercial vehicles, during 2019’s Clean Energy Ministerial hosted in Vancouver.

Drilling suspended in Arctic Refuge 

The Biden administration has suspended oil drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, reversing a Trump-era decision. The move, which was a Biden campaign promise, begins a process that could halt fossil fuel extraction in “one of the largest tracts of untouched wilderness in the United States, home to migrating waterfowl, caribou and polar bears.”

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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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