Why Big Oil had a really, really bad day, two new reports to start off your week, and Ford's 'biggest opportunity for growth' since Henry Ford's Model T


The big battery opportunity 

Last week brought good news for Canada’s EV battery supply chain prospects, with President Biden reportedly planning for the U.S. to rely on “ally countries” (including Canada) to supply the bulk of the metals needed to build electric vehicles. 

It’s a big opportunity for Canada, which is home to many of the mineral resources required. But as Clean Energy Canada executive director Merran Smith and Mining Association of Canada president and CEO Pierre Gratton argued in an op-ed, Canada can do more than merely extract and supply the raw materials; we can also be a leading supplier of sustainable battery materials and a producer of cutting-edge technology.

After all, Canada has a pre-existing battery research and development network, access to a well-integrated North American market, and a mostly clean national electricity grid (for powering lower-carbon facilities). But with Asia and Europe accelerating, Canada (and indeed North America) needs to catch up or risk losing out on the global opportunity. For more on how Canada can get in the battery game, see our latest report, Turning Talk into Action: Building Canada’s Battery Supply Chain.

‘Big oil’s bad, bad day’

Last Wednesday has been described as “cataclysmic” for Big Oil after Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, and ExxonMobil were all forced to rethink their climate plans following new court rulings and shareholder votes. The eventful day included a Dutch court decision that ruled Shell must drastically cut its emissions, the election of at least two new pro-climate “dissident candidates” to ExxonMobil’s board, and a shareholder vote demanding Chevron reduce its “scope three” emissions (from people burning its product).

Two new reports to start your week

The International Institute for Sustainable Development released a report last week calling on governments to not invest more money in Alberta’s oil sector and instead focus on diversification amid projections of a decline in long-term oil demand. The analysis was joined the same week by another report that explores how Canada can “win the global race to net-zero” emissions. For an overview, head to this iPolitics op-ed.

The rebate debate

Electric vehicle purchase rebates have been hugely popular (including on Prince Edward Island where provincial rebates were recently introduced). Consequently, the federal government’s rebate fund is diminishing quicker than expected. But as Clean Energy Canada’s Joanna Kyriazis told the Canadian Press, popularity isn’t the only consideration. Fairness is also important, and expanding rebates to include used vehicles would allow more Canadians to make the switch—an option Transport Canada says it’s “exploring.” 

Resources for retrofits

As of last week, Canadians can apply to receive a federal government grant of up to $5,000 to help retrofit their homes to save energy, including upgrading heaters, installing solar panels, and replacing windows and doors. The prime minister said the funding will help “700,000 homeowners lower their bills and keep their houses warmer in the winter.”

A new climate warning

The Bank of Canada is warning that prices of debt and equity tied to carbon-intensive industries fail to adequately factor in the risks of climate change, leaving investors and banks exposed to potentially large losses. According to the Bank, the assets are mispriced due to their susceptibility to the “physical effects of climate change, such as more intense storms and floods, as well as disruption from the transition to cleaner forms of energy.” And climate-related financial risk is on the U.S. government’s radar too, with President Biden recently signing a new executive order on the subject. 

Hyundai accelerates EVs

South Korean automaker Hyundai is reportedly taking its electrification ambitions up a gear, with sources close to the company saying it intends to halve the number of fossil-fuel-powered models it makes. The move would “free up resources to invest in electric vehicles” as the company moves toward its goal of “full electrification” by 2040.

Ford’s big EV opportunity

Hyundai isn’t the only automaker with its eye on the EV prize. Ford Motors outlined plans last week to up its spending on electric vehicles by more than a third, with Ford CEO Jim Farley saying, “This is our biggest opportunity for growth and value creation since Henry Ford started to scale the Model T.” 

Time for buses to get on board with hydrogen

Cheaper technology, more readily available fuel, and a drive to cut emissions means that hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered buses could be ready for their “day in the sun.” As this piece in the Toronto Star explores, Canada is home to several hydrogen fuel cell manufacturers, and introducing more hydrogen-powered city buses could “help kick-start Canada’s domestic hydrogen industry.”  

Warming and warnings

In concerning climate news, meteorological organizations have said there is a good chance the world might temporarily exceed 1.5C of warming in the next five years, breaching the more aspirational target of the Paris Agreement sooner than many expected. As the World Meteorological Organization secretary general put it, “these are more than just statistics. Increasing temperatures mean more melting ice, higher sea levels, more heatwaves and other extreme weather, and greater impacts on food security, health, the environment and sustainable development."

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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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