Some opinions about the onset of offsets, why Canadian hydrogen fuel cells are finally taking off, and an April Fools blunder


Biden’s $2-trillion plan takes shape

Last week saw Biden announce his new US$2-trillion infrastructure plan, which includes “sweeping investments in electric vehicles, renewable power and the electric grid.” As with any big U.S. spending, the effects will likely be felt in Canada. As one economist put it, “When someone plows $2 trillion into your neighbourhood, the economic effects tend to spill onto your property.” But the implications of this spillover, including the extent to which Biden’s “Buy American” mantra will apply to Canadian business, will depend in part on how Canada positions itself.

When it comes to that positioning, a new report from RBC sees Biden’s agenda as an opportunity for Canada to “beef up” its export capabilities in certain areas, particularly in electric vehicles and their associated supply chains. As RBC’s director of economics elaborated, “Canada has strength in emerging technology such as clean energy and artificial intelligence, as well as autonomous vehicle technology. These technologies may not be widely used today, but will be in the future and therefore require investment.” 

But before any of Biden’s clean energy spending can be put into action, the bill must first be passed—no easy feat given the Democrats’ wafer-thin hold on the senate. And while there are still options move a potential bill forward, it will likely take months.

The offset issue

A few weeks ago, the federal government released a new consultation paper on its proposed carbon offset scheme, which would see credits awarded to companies for carbon reduction. But despite being billed as a climate policy, the scheme could actually increase emissions according to three Canadian climate policy experts. For the lowdown on the offsets issue, head over to their new CBC op-ed.

Hydrogen fuel cells ‘taking off’

Canadian hydrogen fuel cell companies are ”taking off” after securing a number of deals to supply vehicles around the world. B.C.-based Loop Energy is supplying hydrogen fuel cells to a German freight haulage company. Meanwhile, also B.C.-based Ballard Power is teaming up with Ontario-based auto parts manufacturer Linamar to provide fuel-cell-powered delivery vans as part of a project for the California Air Resources Board. As Loop’s chief commercial officer put it, this is “the beginning of the adoption curve.”

Canada’s ‘environmental’ workforce growing

Canada's “environmental” workforce grew by 5% in 2020, according to a new report from ECO Canada, which predicts that thousands of additional jobs in the sector will be created over the next five years, with the biggest growth seen in Alberta. As my colleague Trevor Melanson told CBC, clean energy jobs (which are included in the “environmental jobs” tally) are important to ensure Canada keeps up with other nations, whether it's in areas like green hydrogen or clean technology development.

An early April Fools

German carmaker Volkswagen caused a stir last week after it announced the company would change the name of its North American operations to “Voltswagen” as part of a big electric rebrand—only to later reveal it was nothing more than an early April Fools’ joke. While the gaffe may have angered reporters (many of whom were assured of the name change’s authenticity), it triggered a temporary surge in the company’s share price. As this Bloomberg piece puts it, “its April Fools’ Day calamity shows the dangers of trying to be cool and funny.”

A Clean Energy Review holiday

This week's edition of the Clean Energy Review is a shorter holiday edition due to the long weekend, but we'll be back with the full newsletter next week.

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