Why you could be seeing a lot more electric trucks in California, a world-first for hydrogen, and a 'ticking time bomb' in the Arctic


Deal reached at COP25

Nations at the UN’s climate change conference, COP25, have finally reached a deal after negotiations spilled into a second day of overtime. The deal has been described as "watered-down" and a "compromise," with the UN secretary general saying "the international community lost an important opportunity, [but] we must not give up and I will not give up." 

And he's not the only one who has come out fighting. Indeed, among the diplomats, presidents and prime ministers was a 16-year-old girl. Greta Thunberg, just named Time’s youngest ever person of the year, sailed across the Atlantic and back to be at the conference. Not one to mince her words, her speech at COP25 was characteristically to-the-point. “There is hope—I've seen it—but it does not come from the governments or corporations, it comes from the people.”

And barely a week after her speech, she is onto her next challenge. Along with 15 other youth activists, she has called on the Canadian and Norwegian governments to “honour its responsibilities to children everywhere” and transition away from fossil fuels. Canada must, she says, “blaze a trail for other fossil-fuel-reliant economies to follow.”

'Higher ambition’

Among the largest of sticking points in the UN talks: global carbon markets. Here in Canada, the possibility of receiving carbon credits for Canadian LNG (if it were to replace dirtier coal elsewhere in the world) has been the topic of much discussion. But the new environment minister has suggested that such a scheme offers “no immediate promise.” As this Globe and Mail editorial reads, “This only makes sense. The first clause of the article talks about ‘higher ambition’ in taking on climate change. Building more fossil-fuel infrastructure doesn’t fit this bill."

‘We know we can do it’

The EU member states have agreed on a deal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, which will see 9% of the world’s carbon emissions reduced. As the President of the European Commission wrote in a National Observer op-ed last week, “This is a task for our generation and the next, but change must begin right now—and we know we can do it.” One of the recommended measures is a border carbon tax—a tariff on imports to the EU. Perhaps, given the inability to hammer out greater ambition at COP25, this more muscular approach may gain in popularity.

How to get people to vote climate

If you find yourself with a few minutes to spare today, this Vox piece is worth filling them with. Yes, it’s centred around U.S. politics, but its themes resonate in Canada—albeit only to an extent. It’s about climate activism: why it’s working, why it isn’t, and why convincing people to vote out a government that engages in climate denial doesn’t necessarily happen by talking more about climate.

100% zero-emission trucks

California is considering a new zero-emission truck sales mandate—like the truck version of the electric car mandates already in place in California and B.C. The state, which is aiming for 100% electric truck sales by 2040, wants to find ways to slash emissions from its heavily polluting transportation sector—and fast. The new rules would require at least half of all new delivery and box truck sales (and 15% of heavy duty pickup sales) be zero-emission by 2030.

‘High-mileage Rob’

And if the need for electric vehicles sales mandates was ever in doubt, this 10-minute CBC video is a great explainer. Come for the enthusiastic electric car owners (including “high-mileage Rob” who’s clocked 100,000 kilometres on his Tesla Model 3 in a year), stay for the policy message. As the video explains, both demand and supply need to be addressed if we’re to get more electric cars on the roads.

The first in the world

Here’s a clean energy first for you. L.A. is replacing its last coal power station with a gas-powered version. Okay, nothing extraordinary there. Except the city is going one step further—and has pledged that, by 2045, the plant will run entirely on renewable hydrogen

And speaking of hydrogen

Move over LNG tankers, here comes the world’s first LH (liquid hydrogen) tanker. The tanker, which made its debut in a shipyard in Japan, will be used for a “technology demonstration to establish an international hydrogen energy supply chain.” While it’s early days, the tanker opens up huge opportunities to move to low-carbon energy around the world. And in other nautical news, Vancouver transit operator, Translink, is eyeing up some electric replacements to Vancouver’s Seabus. 

Another fund gets serious about climate

Another week, another pension funds gets serious about the risks of climate change. This time it’s the turn of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which has announced it will up its low-carbon investments from 50% to 80% by 2020. As fund head Michael Sabia said, the change “comes from our strong belief about the upside potential in investment in measures to address climate change.”

‘A ticking time bomb’

I’m sure you’ve heard about the Arctic tipping point: the point at which ice melt recedes so much that trapped methane is released, causing more warming. We all knew it was coming, but scientists fear it’s sooner than we thought. It’s described as a “ticking time bomb.” And if you want to see what this ice melt looks like for the people living on the front lines, this Guardian piece is not to be missed.

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