The big oil and gas pivot, why global 'green' recoveries aren't so green after all, and a 'historic' moment for electric vehicles


Infrastructure investments

Last week, the prime minister announced a $10-billion plan through the Canada Infrastructure Bank that will be spent over three years and will reportedly create around 60,000 jobs.

The spending includes investments in zero-emission school and transit buses so Canadians can have healthier, pollution-free commutes, as well as dollars for large-scale building retrofits that will get Canadians back to work while helping businesses save money and waste less energy. The plan also includes investments in renewable energy and storage technologies that will help our already clean grid become cleaner still, while ensuring more communities can access the benefits of clean power.

As I said in a statement, “At a time when some of the world’s biggest banks and financial institutions are putting climate at the forefront of their recovery efforts, it’s vital that Canada does the same. The Infrastructure Bank’s new plan will help build a more competitive and resilient economy—creating jobs for Canadians while tackling climate change.” 

The oil and gas pivot

Last week, two European oil and gas giants announced they are making plans to pivot away from oil and gas. France’s Total said it will increase annual investments in renewable energy and electricity by 50%. The move comes the same week that it acquired an entire EV charging network in London. Meanwhile, Shell has said it’s looking to cut 40% of the cost of producing oil and gas in a “major drive to save cash so it can overhaul its business and focus more on renewable energy and power markets.”

News from Suncor

It’s not just European oil and gas majors undergoing a shift. Canada’s Suncor announced last Friday that it will eliminate up to 15% of its staff—up to about 2,000 workers. The move came as the company works to transform itself “to rely more on data and technology to improve its efficiency, such as using autonomous trucks at its oil sands operations.” 

Renewables jobs still on the rise

The International Renewable Energy Agency has released its annual report, which confirmed that jobs in renewable energy have continued to “bring socio-economic benefits by creating numerous jobs worldwide.” Canada was ranked among the highest in the world for jobs in hydropower, although employment in other renewable power technologies didn’t make the top ten. As I told the National Observer, Canada’s electricity grid is already 82% non-emitting, and, “we’re talking about a transition of our energy system in every sense—not just in the power we produce. So while the IRENA figures provide global context, they reflect only a portion of both our current reality and the opportunity for Canada.”

The U.S. election and climate

The lead up to the U.S. election has been eventful, to say the least. And while COVID-19 has dominated the show, climate has at least had a front seat. In fact, according to Greentech Media, energy and the environment got more time in last week’s debate than in all of 2016’s presidential debates combined. And if you want to stay on top of what the two parties are saying on climate, the Carbon Brief has come up with a handy election tracker

How 'green' is the recovery?

In the wake of COVID-19 shutdowns, many global leaders pledged to introduce “green” recovery measures. But how much green are we really seeing? Not a lot, according to a new study by Vivid Economics that found, “Among the world’s 20 biggest economies, only the UK, Germany and France as individual countries, and the EU as a whole, are planning for a green recovery in which the benefits to the climate and nature outweigh the negative impacts.”

EVs cost half as much to maintain

Driving an EV doesn't just save trips to the gas station, it reduces trips to the repair shop too. In fact, a new report found that drivers of electric vehicles save “an average of 50% on maintenance and repair over the life of a vehicle compared to owners of gas-powered vehicles.”

‘This is historic’

Not content with just one world EV record, Norway has surpassed its own EV sales figures with electric cars registering a “historic” market share of 61.5% in September. That means that 6 out of ten Norwegian car buyers chose to go electric last month. As the news report reads, “The increase in the proportion of electric cars can be linked to the fact that many new models are now on the market.” Time for Canada up its game?  

Tales from Tesla

As part of its plans to reach net zero-emissions by 2040, Walmart Canada has reserved 130 of Tesla’s Semi trucks, making it one of the largest reservations of electrified trucks in the country. On the smaller end of the Tesla spectrum, here’s Vancouver-based taxi driver Shaminder Rattan on why he chose to swap his gas-powered cab for an electric version. After all, who wouldn’t want to hail a quieter, pollution-free ride?

Hydrogen-powered snow grooming

If you're eagerly anticipating the start of the ski season, you'll probably enjoy this story. France’s 250 ski resorts will switch to hydrogen-powered snow-grooming machinery as part of a pledge to eliminate CO2 emission by 2037.

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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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