Canada is currently facing two global crises, and only one is showing signs of winding down.
While COVID-19 continues to have negative and unprecedented effects on our health and our economy, new vaccines represent a welcome light at the end of the tunnel.
Climate change also continues to damage our health and our economy, along with our ecosystems, and the worst is still to come.
Recently, the situation actually worsened, despite the lockdown in many parts of the country. New data from the International Energy Agency shows that in December 2020, energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were actually two per cent higher than the year before the COVID crisis.
No vaccine can put an end to the climate crisis, but one solution where Canada has the opportunity to be a global leader is in powering electric vehicles with Canada’s abundant renewable energy resources.
On April 22, the government of Canada announced a new GHG reduction target to surpass its Paris Accord target for 2030 and put it on the path to achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.
But how will we get there?
What people are reading
After all, Canada’s GHG emissions have essentially remained the same between 2005 and 2019. While GHG emissions from the transport sector increased by 16 per cent during that period, GHG emissions from the electricity sector decreased by 48 per cent. Canada is the number 1 country in the world for GHG emissions per kilometre driven — a dubious achievement reflecting its inefficient light-duty vehicle fleet.
The solution is plain: Electric vehicles powered by renewable energy represent a tremendous GHG reduction opportunity for Canada, one that will also generate significant benefits for our health, economy and environment.
It will save thousands of lives and billions of dollars every year due to the significant reduction in air pollution that will result. Transportation currently produces 33 per cent of Canada’s carbon monoxide emissions and 41 per cent of our nitrogen oxide emissions, key components of the air pollution that causes 15,300 deaths per year and $120 billion in economic health impacts, according to a 2021 Health Canada report.
The transition to non-emitting power and electric vehicles will also bring significant economic benefits to Canadians. Clean Energy Canada estimates there will be 559,400 clean-energy jobs by 2030, two-thirds of them in clean transportation, clean energy, clean grid and storage. These are high-quality, well-paid, sustainable jobs for Canadians.
What’s more, according to Electric Mobility Canada, a strong federal strategy for zero-emission vehicles (ZEV), inspired by similar programs in B.C., Quebec or California, could generate up to $200 billion between 2021 and 2030 in sales revenue alone. Consumers will also benefit financially by transitioning to EVs, thanks to their lower lifetime costs of ownership than conventional vehicles.
To capture all these benefits, Canada must focus on two key areas: expanding the production of decarbonized electricity, and accelerating the adoption of zero-emission vehicles.
Canada has committed to making 90 per cent of the nation’s electricity non-emitting by 2030, and to achieving a non-emitting electricity grid before 2050.
We can meet our targets, relying primarily on Canada’s massive tapped and untapped renewable-energy resources, like hydro, wind and solar.
These resources will allow us to fully decarbonize Canada’s electricity grid, supplying more than enough clean power for a Canadian new wave of non-emitting electric vehicles.
How can Canada accelerate the adoption of zero-emission vehicles? To reach Canada’s own ZEV adoption targets, we need a Canadian electric mobility strategy that includes a ZEV supply chain, more charging infrastructure, ZEV rebates (until there is price parity), education and training, and, finally, ZEV regulation, since voluntary measures alone won’t be enough.
That’s why Electric Mobility Canada supports Canada’s commitment to adopt the most stringent performance standard regulations in North America post-2025 by adopting California’s LDV and HDV regulations for fuel economy and ZEV standards.
With the appropriate policy and regulatory environment, investment will rapidly shift from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy resources.
Low-carbon transportation and zero-emission vehicles are part of “building back better” and support the new Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership.
Canada can and must capitalize on its natural advantages, invest in its homegrown industries and create the regulatory environment needed to become a global leader in electrified transportation powered by renewable electricity.
Electric Mobility Canada, WaterPower Canada and the Canadian Renewable Energy Association are working together to help build a healthy economic and environmental future for all Canadians.
Is nobody else able to see
Is nobody else able to see that most of the seats on our roads are empty? If we are going to re-build our vehicle fleet, let's take advantage of modern materials and methods, instead of buying cars to enhance our images and egos. There is no good reason for a land vehicle to weigh more than it carries except our habituation to absurd waste.
An electric vehicle is well suited to integration into computer-regulated traffic, but all the effort is going into replacing independent drivers going anywhere. We could pioneer in making express lanes that let us relax until we get to our exit, in perfect safety just inches from the next vehicle to reduce wind drag.
Only global climate laggards
Only global climate laggards focus only on electrification in the transportation sector. The Biden administration is making a shift away from highway expansion to transit a center piece of their climate strategy, but Canada is again a laggard. As I wrote in the National Observer before the US election "A rapid transition to electric vehicles and renewable electricity is essential to bring greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions down, but the number of cars needs to shrink to make the rapid transition to electric cars practical and just." See https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/03/04/opinion/make-2020-year-peak-car
"ZEV rebates (until there is
"ZEV rebates (until there is price parity)"
Better to put a realistic (high) price on carbon than to hand out rebates to affluent Canadians who do not need subsidies from taxpayers. Invest in public transit, cycling, pedestrian infrastructure, and smart urban design that allows people to live close to their place of work and amenities — redesigning our cities for people, not cars.
The private automobile and the urban sprawl they perpetuate are a costly detour away from sustainability.
What EV advocates propose is another environmental disaster — just a different one.
EV rebates subsidize the rich. EV rebates are a very expensive and inefficient way to reduce emissions.
"In Green Illusions Zehner pushes for government to put more money into public transit projects that will affect many more people before backing EVs that he believes benefit only few. "If we're looking at ways to decrease the energy use in the U.S., building more walkable and bikeable villages and cities and towns of various sizes would be a better funding priority than subsidizing electric vehicles."
While EVs are far more
While EVs are far more efficient, and infinitely preferable in terms of air pollution, EVs are not a green solution.
EVs have a huge footprint. Car culture drives urban sprawl. Neither is remotely sustainable.
With their huge footprint, EVs wouldn't be green even if they ran on fairy dust. Much of that footprint is embedded in mining and manufacture of materials. About half of the energy used over the lifespan of a car is expended during its production. Using two tons of metal to transport a 150 lb human being is an ecological non-starter.
Halving our emissions but doubling the number of cars (in developing world) gets us precisely nowhere.
Cars drive sprawl, and sprawl drives cars. Sprawl forces people to drive everywhere they go. Once people get in that habit, it's hard to break. Obscene energy expenditure. Lost productivity, sedentary lifestyle (and health problems), millions of deaths and injuries, roadkill, and social isolation. Disintegration of community, loss of green space, endless freeways and traffic jams, inefficient public transit, lost productivity, strip mall blight, mega-mall culture, parking lot proliferation, accidents, and property damage. Insanely long commutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Sprawl multiplies congestion, energy consumption and waste, time and productivity loss, emissions, and footprint.
In perpetuating sprawl, EVs exacerbate the problem and delay real solutions. A one-Earth footprint cannot accommodate an energy-intensive lifestyle where people drive everywhere they go -- or an urban model relying on millions of cars to transport millions of people.
Sprawl makes efficient public transit impossible. In perpetuating sprawl, EVs exacerbate the problem and delay real solutions.
EVs support the unsustainable urban model underlying our high energy/resource consumption. We cannot solve the paradigm problem simply by replacing internal combustion engines with electric motors.
No solution to sprawl except to hit the brakes. The decisions we make now set the blueprint for generations to come.
"Why big tech won't solve our transit woes" (Rabble)
The "three revolutions" hailed by Big Tech: A proliferation of personal electric vehicles, then ride-hailing services, and eventually autonomous or self-driving vehicles. Real solutions or illusory?
"Transit remains far less polluting on a per-passenger basis than personal automobiles. It takes an estimated 100 personal electric vehicles, for example, to achieve the same 'environmental relief' that a single sixty-foot electric bus provides. Thus a billion Teslas will not solve climate change. Each of those cars has an enormous carbon footprint from the components mined from the earth and the energy-intensive processes needed to create it.
"The 'three revolutions' will only bring worsened inequality, more sprawl, dangerous streets, and even less accessibility."