Canada's big EV problem (and how to fix it), why gas car bans are gathering momentum, and the 'Saudi Arabia' of wind power


Climate ‘cornerstone’ of recovery

In the backdrop to this year’s Speech from the Throne was a reality Canada must face and act on: if we want our economy to be competitive, we need to make it so. A clean recovery is not about getting out ahead—but rather keeping up. And so it was promising to see the federal government describe climate action as a “cornerstone” of Canada’s recovery plan.

As Clean Energy Canada executive director Merran Smith told the Narwhal, the speech “acknowledged that this is where the world’s economies are going and that Canada needs to get in the game and stay in the game of producing low carbon and clean energy and clean technology solutions.”

It was also encouraging to see a mention of the need to shift to zero-emission vehicles, as well as to leverage Canada’s mining resources to provide the materials required to build EV batteries. And after the federal environment minister said last week that setting five-year climate targets will be the “highest priority” for this fall, we look forward to seeing more details of how this government will support rapidly growing industries within the clean energy sector and the broader, cleaner economy.

An auto future

The future of Canada’s auto sector looks brighter after Ford Motors tentatively agreed it will spend nearly $2 billion—helped by a federal government investment of $500 million—on its Canadian plants, including $1.8 million toward the production of five electric vehicles. As I wrote in an op-ed in the Toronto Star, “while the money has been described as a lifeline for auto workers, it signals much more than that.” As EV adoption ramps up around the world, it shows that Canada’s auto industry is preparing to catch up and compete with the countries—like China, the U.K., Germany and South Korea—that are already on their way to EV manufacturing dominance.

The problem of supply

But if Canada is going to play in the EV big leagues, it’s going to need the right policies to stay in the game. And Canada has an EV supply problem that puts us at risk of dropping the ball. A study has shown that two-thirds of Canadian dealerships don’t have an electric car on the lot, despite increasing demand. The supply shortage is, in part, a result of manufacturers prioritizing shipments to regions with strong EV policies like the EU and China. The solution? A zero-emissions vehicle standard. Here’s our summary on what that is, and why Canada needs one. 

Gas car bans gaining momentum

The international EV stakes got even higher last week after California—a U.S. trendsetter when it comes to EV policy—said it will amend its zero-emission vehicles standard to ban the sale of gas cars after 2035. Meanwhile, the U.K. has gone one step further, announcing plans to move its ban on fossil fuel vehicles forward by five years to 2030. It seems B.C.’s 2040 gas car ban has some ambitious international company. 

China plans to go carbon neutral

In other enormous news for the climate, the president of China announced that the country will “achieve a peak in carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060,” scaling up its Paris Agreement contributions by “adopting more vigorous policies and measures.” The move has had many speculating what it really means, and if it’s even possible. As one analyst put it, “What’s being contemplated here has never been done before.” 

Three new hydrogen developments

Last week was a full on week for clean energy news, and hydrogen was no exception. Here’s three new hydrogen developments that you won’t want to miss. For starters, a new hybrid hydrogen and diesel-powered tug boat was unveiled in Belgium. Then there’s Toyota’s new plans for fitting light-duty trucks with hydrogen fuel cells instead of diesel generators for use as emissions-free mini “power plants.” And lastly, there’s China’s new hydrogen policies which are aiming to get more hydrogen vehicles on the road by building a more “mature” business model and supply chain.

Ready for take off

It’s clear hydrogen is taking off globally. Literally. Last week also saw the world’s first hydrogen-powered plane take flight in the U.K. And while the maiden flight was a only six-seater aircraft, aviation giant Airbus has said it intends to bring commercial hydrogen-powered aircraft models to the skies by 2035.

An industrial solution?

Reaching our Paris Agreement targets is going to take a spectrum of solutions. And, according to a new International Energy Agency report, carbon capture, utilization, and storage is undoubtedly going to be one of them. If you want a run down on what capturing carbon means for decarbonizing heavy industry, and the technological progress made so far, head over to this Bloomberg piece.

The ‘Saudi Arabia’ of wind power

The U.K. prime minister has said he wants the country to become the “Saudi Arabia” of wind power by embracing new investment and technologies to harness the nation’s windy disposition. Speaking at a UN-hosted roundtable, he also discussed Britain’s plans for achieving its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, which include hydrogen, electric vehicles and solar.

Documenting an extraordinary shift

While clean cars and hydrogen have been busy hitting milestones this summer, so has climate change. Arctic sea ice has reached its second lowest level on record, while unprecedented wildfires have wreaked havoc in many parts of the world. Climate change is a reality we all must face, and one that the Royal Ontario Museum is seeking to document as it searches for a new curator. Here’s some of the “animals, objects and artwork” the museum’s experts chose to illustrate the threats from our changing climate.

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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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