THIS WEEK

Why we are 'vastly underestimating' the harm from emissions, some 'unprecedented' EV agreements, and a win for Canada's electricity exports

CLIMATE CHANGE

The risks of water

Devastating floods have swept through Pakistan, claiming more than 1,100 lives and damaging or destroying a million homes. And with much of the country’s farmland now underwater, the prospect of food shortages is looming atop already skyrocketing food prices. As scientists told the Associated Press, “The flooding has all the hallmarks of a catastrophe juiced by climate change, but it is too early to formally assign blame.”

In the words of one Canadian expert on water risk, “We experience climate change through the lens of water… Either we have too much water or not enough.” And while Pakistan grapples with this reality, Canada is far from immune itself. According to a new report from engineering services firm GHD, “floods, droughts and major storms that wash out highways, damage buildings and affect power grids could cost Canada's economy $139 billion over the next 30 years.”

The costs are racking up around the world. A new study in the U.S. found that each ton of human-caused carbon dioxide emitted costs society $185—more than triple the U.S. federal government’s current figure. The new value, known as the social cost of carbon, suggests that current efforts are “vastly underestimating the harm” caused by carbon emissions.

The supply shake up

In light of the U.S.’s EV tax credit for North-American-made vehicles, “the electric-vehicle battery news cycle feels especially frenetic right now,” writes Bloomberg’s Colin McKerracher. Indeed, the new rules have turned the ignition on a host of Canadian battery developments. Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz have both signed “unprecedented” agreements to source raw materials such as nickel, cobalt, and lithium from Canada. Meanwhile, a new rare earth elements processing facility in Saskatoon is adding a new domestic link in a supply chain that extends from a mine in the Northwest Territories through to the EV production line. And there is more news about a potential Tesla facility in Ontario, although details still remain sparse.


EVs stateside

It’s not just Canada experiencing an EV supply shake up. Automakers are pouring money into U.S. facilities too. Honda and LG have announced they will build a US$4.4-billion battery factory in the U.S., while Toyota recently revealed plans for a new US$5.6-billion investment to boost electric car battery production in Japan and the United States.


Connecting the dots

There are perhaps no two forces more anxiety-inducing than climate change and rising living costs. But how do people connect the two? That’s the question explored in a new op-ed by Clean Energy Review co-author Trevor Melanson and Abacus Data’s David Coletto, informed by a series of Ontario-based surveys and focus groups we undertook on the subject. The upshot? While participants strongly support climate action, many feel it will cost them over the short-term (whether that’s actually true is another matter also explored in the op-ed). The good news is that several cost-saving climate solutions—from electric vehicles, to Canadian-produced clean electricity, to energy efficiency—are effective at countering this concern. Ultimately, a focus on these cost-saving solutions is key to ensuring climate action’s durability in the face of politicians who still wish to “axe the carbon tax.”


Behind the wheel in Toronto

On the topic of Ontarians’ EV appetites, a new story in the Toronto Star investigates Toronto’s EV readiness, with the author describing being a garageless EV owner in the city as “possible” but with challenges. As Clean Energy Canada’s Joanna Kyriazis pointed out, “The city lags… largely because Premier Doug Ford in 2018 cancelled rebates on EV purchases available in other provinces, and has not followed B.C. and Quebec in mandating that automakers sell a percentage of zero-emission vehicles.”


Coal is its own worst energy

Skyrocketing coal costs are driving India’s metal producers toward cleaner alternatives. Indian renewable energy provider Greenko recently signed a deal with two steel and aluminum manufacturers and is reportedly in talks with more. The coal crisis ​​was described by Greenko’s co-founder as “a big factor that accelerated this transition” to renewable power from coal-based energy usage.


The sunny side

“Solar panels now face the sky in every Nunatsiavut community” after new panels were installed in several towns this summer. The region's Inuit government has been working to ditch diesel power in a number of remote towns and gain greater energy independence. In the words of the region’s energy coordinator, ‘"As we continue to expand renewables and increase energy-efficiency as well as lower energy demand, the consumption and shipping of diesel will steadily decrease."


A win for Hydro-Quebec

A court in Maine has ruled that the state’s rejection of a proposed new electricity transmission line that would carry Canadian hydropower to New England was unconstitutional. The decision has breathed life back into the Crown corporation’s ambitions to sell its clean power to the U.S. While the line still faces hurdles, last week’s development is good news for Canadian energy exports. After all, power lines, not oil pipelines, are the future.


Over the summer, you'll be receiving a slightly shorter version of the Clean Energy Review. We'll be back with the full length version after Labour Day.

The Clean Energy Review is co-authored by Trevor Melanson and Keri McNamara
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