THIS WEEK

The problem with climate fear, why we need to reclaim the term 'energy,' and a tipping point that could 'change our lives'

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

2022 is going to be electric

Barely a week into 2022 and the new electric vehicle announcements are already coming at pace. Chevrolet has unveiled its new electric Silverado pickup, with first models set to be delivered in fall 2023. The truck will be a direct competitor for Ford’s electric pickup, the F-150 Lightning, revealed last year (see here for a point by point comparison). 

And if interest in the F-150 is anything to go by, the market for electric pickups is red hot. Ford recently announced that it has nearly quadrupled its originally planned production capacity for the Lightning after more than 50,000 people reserved one in the final few months of 2021. Meanwhile, Chrysler showcased its first fully electric concept car at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, which will spearhead the company’s efforts to reach a fully electric portfolio by 2028.

It's not just traditional automakers that are vying for EV dominance. Tech giant Sony is also entering the fray, announcing its plans to launch an EV company this spring. And if you’re losing track of the front runners and wildcards in the electric vehicle space, this NBC summary points out some of the most interesting startups to watch this year.

We need to communicate solutions

After consecutive years of extreme weather events across the country, Canadians have woken up to the realities of climate change. But as Clean Energy Canada’s communications director, Trevor Melanson, put it in a new op-ed, when it comes to actually solving the problem, fear of climate change is simply not enough—and can even undermine progress if it drives people to lose faith in their political system. Effective climate communication must allow Canadians to see that climate solutions they’re being asked to support are, in fact, already working, even if there’s more to be done. As Trevor writes, “If [Canadians] don’t believe the system can work for them, they’re more likely to disengage, and the critical climate measures already in place or proposed, of which there are many, will be more vulnerable to impatience and opposition.”


Reclaiming energy

The term “energy” has spent the last few decades as a synonym for oil and gas in the public discourse. But with our current and future energy mix representing so much more than just fossil fuels, it's time the word was reclaimed. As this new Globe and Mail editorial points out, “Canada is a leader in many forms of energy, but one is prioritized by daily language, elevating one fuel as synonymous with energy. This narrow focus shapes investments, public policy and thought.”


Making the switch

Oil and gas workers are switching to other industries “in droves,” with new LinkedIn data showing that since the pandemic began, energy and mining workers have been applying for jobs in other industries more frequently than displaced workers in other sectors. As the director of EDGE-UP, which retrains oil and gas sector professionals for IT jobs, told the Financial Post, “The cyclical changes in the resource sector are giving way to structural changes.”


Clean is the new coal

It’s no secret that Alberta’s coal phase-out is ahead of schedule, with the province expected to ditch the dirtiest fuel well in advance of its 2030 target. But coal’s decline has been accompanied by an uptick in renewable generation capacity, with a number of large projects announced or already underway. As economist Blake Shaffer told CBC, “renewables have gone from being a bit of a novelty in the province to something that has economic importance.”


Going giga

Battery startup Northvolt’s new “gigafactory” in Sweden produced its first lithium-ion battery cell last week, marking a key moment in Europe’s ambitions to build a domestic battery supply chain. The site is the first European-owned plant to operate at the “giga” scale, meaning it is able to produce enough batteries to provide 15 gigawatt hours of cumulative storage.


Community power

Two Nuu-chah-nulth nations are among a number of Indigenous communities to receive funding from the British Columbia Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative and the provincial government to explore options to improve and expand clean energy capacity within their communities. The Uchucklesaht Tribe is investigating the use of hydropower as a way to cut diesel use, while the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nations will look into improvements to power transmission lines. 


Making space

This National Observer story dives into the important work of the newly formed Black Environmental Initiative. The Canadian group works to promote the engagement of Black communities in the energy transition while addressing environmental racism, where communities of colour are disproportionately affected by the impacts of pollution and climate change. As Leïla Cantave, the organization’s youth environmental justice lead, explained, “We don’t want to bring all the broken pieces in the system now into this new transition that everyone is excited about.”


Getting disclosure right

Sustainable finance aficionados should check out this op-ed in the Globe and Mail on the Canadian Securities Administrators’ proposed new rules regarding climate-related disclosures for companies. The window for consultation on the proposal is closing soon, and according to the authors, there are gaps that must be addressed if Canada is going to get the disclosure rules right. 


Thwarting the thaw

To end 2022’s first Clean Energy Review on a slightly ominous note is this episode of CBC’s the Current on the fate of the Thwaites glacier in Antarctica. The glacier is melting quicker than expected, and continued thawing could lead to a “tipping point” that could “change our lives.” As climate author Jeff Goodall put it, “Scientists say we still have a very, very narrow window of time to slow or stop this before it begins to happen… That's why cutting carbon emissions right now, today, tomorrow, this decade is so important.”

IMAGE & MEDIA CREDITS: Chevrolet
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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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