In a world trying to bounce back from a pandemic and the economic crisis it created, fixing climate change is the one big project that actually makes sense. It will create millions of jobs, and a much healthier environment all while reducing the cost of running our households.
Oh, and did I mention it will also save civilization as we know it by stabilizing our climate? Ya, that too.
So, the good news is that things actually are changing, and the pace of that change is picking up. Let’s have a look.
Canada's new plan
The federal government’s highly anticipated Emissions Reduction Plan has just been released, and it looks promising. It aims to cut our emissions by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030. That’s just eight years away. Wow.
The new plan throws billions at continued electric vehicle incentives and a lot more EV charging infrastructure. It pledges to work with the oil and gas sector to cap and lower their emissions. It promises money to help households become more energy efficient and reduce heating and electrical bills while ramping up the switch to renewables like solar and wind.
But will it work? Canada has set 10 emission reduction targets over the last 20 years, and met none of them. Will this one be different? Maybe.
This is the first one that is legally binding. It will also help the economy by making us more competitive in world markets, where the demand for everything from low-carbon steel and aluminum to green hydrogen is rising rapidly. We gotta get green if we want to compete. This new plan, if implemented completely, might get us on the path to climate sanity, at last.
Texas clean energy boom
Oil rich Texas has become a world leader in renewables. Wind power has recently overtaken coal to become the second-largest source of electricity in the state, while their growth in solar is quickly catching up with California.
Many pointed the finger at renewables during the storm-caused power outage there last year, but in reality wind and solar performed exceptionally well, while fossil fueled plants faltered.
Around the world, renewables help stabilize grids and make them more reliable, not less. It makes sense: renewables like solar and wind are made up of very large numbers of small generators (wind turbines and solar panels) so even if a bunch of them get wiped
out, the rest keep working. Plus they are distributed across the landscape, while fossil fuel plants are large and centralized, and therefore more likely to cause massive sudden outages.
The Australian solar miracle
A massive solar resource and the reduction of red tape has given Australia the cheapest electricity in the world, now valued at just 5 cents per kilowatt hour. By streamlining building codes, creating training programs and reducing bureaucratic hurdles, Australia has made rooftop solar a pillar of their economy.
In South Australia the population was so spread out that retail grid electricity was super expensive due to distribution charges. (Sounds kind of like Canada…) Rooftop solar, where folks generate all their own power right at home, made perfect sense.
Large grid-scale batteries also made perfect sense because they were cheaper and more reliable than new gas plants. Millions of households in Australia now pay almost nothing for the clean solar energy they generate on their rooftops. And solar installers, due to high demand, make $40 per hour!
Big batteries in Ontario
Big news in the race for a lead position in the global EV battery race: Stellantis and LG Energy Solutions just announced the building of Canada’s first large scale EV battery plant in Windsor, Ontario. This $5-billion investment from the two companies (along with federal, provincial and local governments) is among the largest in Ontario’s automotive history, and will create some 2,500 jobs.
This, along with big commitments from GM and BASF to produce EV cathodes in Quebec, are positioning Canada to play a pivotal role in accelerating the electrification of transportation in North America.
Fixing climate change will be a very, very good thing for our economies, our job opportunities, and for you and me, now and far into the distant future.
Don Pettit lives and writes in Dawson Creek, and is Executive Director of the Peace Energy Co-operative.