What Canadians think of their own climate reputation, a 'Green Hydrogen Catapult,' and why the month of November smashed the wrong kind of records


New climate plan is brave, honest, and historic

Last Friday the federal government released its updated climate plan to beat its 2030 emissions targets. As Clean Energy Canada executive director Merran Smith said in a statement, “There’s no two ways about it: the updated climate plan is historically and globally significant. The plan will retool and position Canada’s economy to be increasingly competitive in a low-carbon world.”

We particularly welcome the news that the carbon price will increase by $15 a year until 2030, starting in 2023. After all, pricing pollution is one of the most effective and efficient ways to curb emissions, which is why the policy is so popular among economists.

A year ago, this government was given a clear mandate on climate by Canadians at the polls. One very eventful year later, they are delivering on that mandate with a comprehensive and honest plan. And when it comes to climate action, honesty is the best policy. 

Canada’s car conundrum

If you read our report in last week’s Clean Energy Review, then you’ll know that Canada has a car conundrum: pollution from transport is up, and our auto manufacturing sector is down. But zero-emission vehicles offer a solution (check out the video trailer below for a one-minute summary). To that end, it’s encouraging to see that the federal government intends to work with partners and the incoming Biden administration to develop "supply-side policy options" to make zero-emission vehicles more accessible as part of its new climate plan.

How Canada can cut carbon pollution and revitalize its auto sector

Canadians want to be global climate leaders

In the global race against climate change, Canadians want to be at the front of the pack, according to a new series of surveys by Clean Energy Canada and Abacus Data. Two out of three people in Canada would like to see Canada as either “world leading” or “among the most ambitious” countries when it comes to a shift toward clean energy. Nine out of ten (89%) Canadians believe the country “needs a strategy to help sectors across our economy adapt in ways that will make them highly competitive in a lower carbon global economy.”

A freightful policy gap

While it’s clear we need to electrify more passenger cars to fix our pollution problems, we can’t forget about their big cousins in the freight sector either. A new report from the Pembina Institute in conjunction with some of Canada’s largest shipping companies points out that there is “currently no national zero-emission vehicle policy and investment strategy for goods movement.” 

Another climate plan

In case you’ve not had your fill of climate plans yet today, here’s Montreal’s recently released plan to chew on. Key ingredients include a ban on non-electric cars downtown by 2030, the removal of parking around metro stations, and incentives for “environmentally responsible habits.”

Alberta is kicking coal

Alberta has announced it is on track to phase out coal power seven years ahead of its 2030 target. A particularly impressive feat given that only six years ago, coal powered more than half of electricity production. The move was, in part, made possible by “the growing cost-competitiveness of renewable energy.”

The ‘Green Hydrogen Catapult’

Last week saw the launch of the new “Green Hydrogen Catapult.” It isn’t, in fact, an emissions-free ballistic device but a new initiative made up of seven companies that aims to scale up the production of green hydrogen (that is, hydrogen made from renewable electricity and water). The group, including developer ACWA Power and Spanish utility Iberdrola, is aiming to bring down production costs over the next six years.

Japan steps up on hydrogen

Potential Canadian hydrogen exporters, take note: Japan is reportedly aiming to “make hydrogen a power source viable enough to produce the output of more than 30 nuclear reactors” by the end of the decade—and is providing US$19 billion in funds to do it. It’s not immediately clear if the spending will form part of the government’s US$385 billion stimulus fund for “reducing carbon emissions and boosting adoption of digital technology.”

Disclosure is in vogue

The number of companies who disclosed their environmental impact has risen 46% in the last year according to the environmental disclosure platform CDP. The change follows an increase in concern about climate risk exposure, and the benefits are already written in the bottom line: companies on the list saw 5.3% higher returns than competitors over the past seven years.

November was a global scorcher

Globally, this November was the hottest one on record. While we may be growing accustomed to the mercury hitting record highs, it shouldn’t make it any less shocking. As one expert put it, “All policy makers who prioritize mitigating climate risks should see these records as alarm bells.” After all, as the UN’s latest Emissions Gap report points out, we’re still a long way from where we need to be to fix this crisis.

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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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