Why EVs caused tension at the North American Leaders’ Summit, a declaration from Calgary, and some inspiration from the Arctic Circle


A sign of things to come

It hasn’t exactly been B.C.’s year. After a summer of fatal record-breaking heat waves and wildfires, devastating floodwaters washed through parts of the province last week, claiming a still unknown number of human lives and thousands of animal ones, as well as destroying sections of major highways, cutting off essential supply links to communities across the province and Vancouver off from the rest of Canada.

The rising waters were a result of an “atmospheric river” that brought excessive rainfall to the province, something that scientists suggest is likely to become more frequent as the climate crisis persists.

Such extreme weather events pose a risk not only to life but also infrastructure across Canada, which “was not built to withstand the impacts of climate change.” And the near failure of a critical water pump in an already-flooded, low-lying area provides a grim illustration of just how risky this can be. As a senior research associate at the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices put it, infrastructure and buildings built for “yesterday’s risks and hazards (are) not going to cut it in the 21st century.”

COP26: the wrap up

The new Glasgow Climate Pact—the outcome of COP26—is now a week old. As Clean Energy Canada executive director Merran Smith put it, while the pact represents real progress, it also falls short on several fronts. Specifically, language on phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies was watered down at the last minute. It was also disappointing to see that rich nations fell short of their commitment to provide US$100 billion per year in climate financing to developing countries. And while Canada made important commitments on climate, its ambitions continue to be at odds with its position as the world’s fourth-largest crude oil producer. For more on the outcomes of COP26 and their relevance to Canada, see our latest blog.

EV tensions

On the subject of international collaboration, EVs were reportedly a major sticking point in discussions during last week’s North American Leaders' Summit. Canadian officials argued that America’s newly proposed EV incentive system—which would apply only to cars made in the U.S.—would severely disadvantage Canada’s auto sector and result in job losses on both sides of the border. And while a post-summit Biden appeared unmoved on the issue, it is likely far from settled

A U-turn?

These bilateral tensions come as the Ontario government attempts to charge up its EV-making ambitions, releasing the second phase of its plan to position the province “as a North American leader in developing and building the car of the future.” According to the plan, that car would be made using Ontarian know-how coupled with a largely local supply chain. Premier Ford could be considering a U-turn on his aversion to EV rebates (perhaps he read last week’s edition of the Clean Energy Review), saying he plans to “see how the market dictates.”

A Calgarian emergency

Calgary’s city council voted overwhelmingly to declare a climate emergency, joining more than 500 cities and communities across Canada that have already done so. Calgary Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Deborah Yedlin said that such a declaration is far from a threat to Alberta’s economy and that the province had the opportunity to become “the Silicon Valley for energy transition technologies.”

Inspiration from the Arctic Circle

Climate emergencies aren’t just for big cities, as the village of Old Crow in Yukon—the most Northwesterly community in Canada—proved when it made the declaration back in 2019. Since then, under the leadership of Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Chief Tizya-Tramm, the village has been a trailblazing example of how off-grid communities can use clean energy to cut carbon and improve quality of life. If you want a guaranteed good start to your day, read this Washington Post story on Chief Tizya-Tramm’s climate leadership journey.

Rio Tinto invests in Canadian low-carbon aluminum

Mining giant Rio Tinto is investing $87 million in low-carbon aluminium production in Quebec. The company is building 16 new smelting cells using its “AP60” technology that, according to Rio Tinto, produces seven times less greenhouse gas than the industry average.

The energy storage decade

We’re about to enter the “energy storage decade,” according to the head of decentralized energy at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. New research by the organization finds that energy storage installations are set to increase 20-fold by 2030, with the amount of new storage added equivalent to the entire energy capacity of Japan last year. 

EZ does it

Electric Zambonis are growing in popularity across Ontario, boasting numerous advantages over their fossil-fuel-powered counterparts. In the words of the arena operator of the Invista Centre in Kingston, "You can't really beat zero emissions in terms of indoor air quality." As with their EV cousins on the road, the electric Zambonis are delivering big cost savings, with the City of Kingston citing an 80% reduction in fuel costs.

ROM has a new climate curator

Conservation biologist Soren Brothers is the Royal Ontario Museum’s first-ever climate change curator. His mandate: to ensure the “museum’s collections and programming give the climate crisis the attention it deserves.” Brothers’s plans  involve “shifting the narrative away from the doomsday aspects of climate change.” As he pointed out, “People respond more to positive and inspirational messaging.”

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IMAGE & MEDIA CREDITS: Province of British Columbia
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