Why Canada is definitely not 'too small to matter', what the coronavirus means for climate change, and how Canadian steel plans to go carbon neutral


The next generation of electric vehicles

Fasten your seat belts. This week’s top story is a wild ride through the future of electric vehicles. First off, General Motors is eyeing up a piece of Tesla’s rapidly growing market share after announcing it is introducing an electric version of all of its cars starting next year—get ready for chargeable Cadillacs and plug-in Hummers.

Next up are snowmobiles. Gone are the days where snowmobiling meant ear-splitting engine noise and gas fumes. Now you can explore Canada’s snowy wildernesses with a Canadian-made, emissions-free sled that “accelerates like a roof-less Tesla, with all the traction of a tank”—and nothing but the sound of crunching snow.

Changing latitude somewhat brings us a different kind of electric vehicle. Three-wheelers, like Rickshaws, are a common way to get around in most Indian cities. And as prices drop and charging becomes more accessible, electrifying the tiny taxis has big potential to cut emissions and air pollution. 

Switching up the scale (and bringing us back to North America) is a handy new tool by California-based CALSTART, which allows users to compare low-carbon buses and trucks. There are now a whole host of options available for fleet managers across the continent—from garbage trucks to school buses to delivery vans.

In the powerline

Feeling charged up about electric vehicle infrastructure? Then this is for you. Electric Autonomy brings us this excellent summary of existing charging networks in Canada as well as the new ones coming down the powerline in the next few years. 

Too small to matter?

For years, certain politicians have rallied support for inaction on climate by touting it as a futile endeavour because Canada’s emissions are “too small to matter.” Aside from the fact it’s a blinkered (and arguably unethical) approach, it’s also fundamentally untrue. Canadians are among the biggest polluters in the world. This is a great piece explaining the issue—the facts speak for themselves. 

Manitoba to get carbon pricing

After vowing to resist Ottawa’s carbon pricing backstop, the premier of Manitoba has said the province will now adopt its own version of the price at $25 per tonne. While it remains to be seen how the province’s price will evolve in line with federal rules that state it must rise each year to 2022, it is encouraging to see the province adopt the policy, which is one of the most cost-effective and least disruptive ways to cut pollution.

The coronavirus and climate change

While the effects of the coronavirus are taking their toll around the world, the resulting industrial slowdown is having a positive effect on emissions. Analyses suggest that carbon pollution from China—the world’s biggest carbon emitter—fell by a quarter in the weeks following the outbreak, while coal consumption from power plants is down by 36%.

Industrious solutions

Tackling emissions from industry is one of the biggest challenges in the climate fight. So it’s encouraging to see the Canadian Steel Producers Association setting a target of net-zero emissions by 2050, while investing money in research and low-carbon solutions. It’s also good to see the federal government encouraging emissions reductions in the mining sector—another heavily polluting industry—in the form of a new tax rebate for commercial electric vehicles.

A case for clean capitalism

This is a longer read, but for anyone looking for a fresh perspective on getting business to work as an advocate for clean energy, this Walrus piece is worth your time. And if you want to really invest, then Tom Rand’s new book, The Case for Climate Capitalism, is money well spent. Hit “add to cart” if you want to explore how we can “join together, reclaim capitalism, and force profits to align with the planet.”

Democrats on energy

Political tensions are mounting south of the border as the final two runners in the Democratic race—Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden—pull into the final straight. But where do the two stand on energy and climate? Here’s a handy summary of what could be in store should either of them find themselves in the Oval Office.

A plan for Pickering

Ontario’s Pickering nuclear plant is due to retire in 2025 after almost half a century of non-emitting power provision. But, according to a new report, there is no plan to replace the aging plant’s supply, which could threaten to dilute the province’s currently strong low-carbon power mix. Filling the gap with clean power is an achievable goal, finds the report, but action needs to be taken now.

Germany picks up clean energy binoculars

While many countries in the world are shifting to natural gas as a cleaner alternative to coal, Germany is setting its sights further ahead—on clean hydrogen. Only hydrogen from the cleanest sources will be eligible for proposed government incentives, ruling out the use of natural gas. The country, which sees the lightest element as a major solution to emissions from hard-to-decarbonize industrial sectors, is also looking abroad for potential partners that can help create and supply the clean-burning fuel.

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