EDITORIAL: Investing in humanity — The BMJ’s divestment campaign

Health professionals and medical organisations must act now

How do we restore hope for humanity? Many of us feel despair at a disintegrating political consensus to save our planet from fire, flood, disease, and conflict. We feel trapped in our high carbon lives and disempowered by commercial influence of companies whose products damage the planet and people’s wellbeing.

Evidence for the effects of the politico-commercial complex is clear and alarming.1 On our current trajectory we will miss carbon emission targets and sustainable development goals, both agreed by international consensus.2 Populist politicians rubbish science confirming the harmful effects of climate change. Big business obfuscates, distorts, and denies evidence for the adverse effects of its products. When future historians, if such a future exists, look back on our stewardship of Planet Earth, what will be their judgment? That we allowed politics and profits to harm our home planet and ourselves?

Health professionals and medical organisations should not accept the world as it is. This is not a matter of playing party politics or anticorporate posturing. Taking action is a duty to the people we serve and to future generations. And we can act: by divesting from health harming industries. Divestment offers health professionals and medical organisations, for the duty is both individual and collective, an opportunity to influence politicians and industry towards behaviours that are better for the planet and people’s health (box 1).

What do we mean by divestment for health?

Divestment is the opposite of investment. It is the reduction or, as in this case, the complete removal of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are unethical because of the harm to health.

The case for divestment from the tobacco industry is established. Tobacco products are harmful, and the industry’s history of manipulating science on the effects of tobacco smoke is well described.3The BMJ is a long standing opponent of the tobacco industry. We published a landmark study by Richard Doll showing a causal relation between tobacco smoke and lung cancer.4 We do not accept advertising or research funded by the tobacco industry in any of our journals.5

Fossil fuels

In a previous BMJ editorial, Law and colleagues argued that the case for divestment from fossil fuels is now clear cut.6 Extraction of fossil fuels damages our planet. Products of the fossil fuel industry harm health, causing global conflict, driving climate change through carbon emissions, and shortening lives through air pollution. Yet politicians refuse to relinquish their political and commercial links to fossil fuels, and fossil fuel companies manipulate science to downplay the ill effects of their business. This allows us all to continue the convenient fantasy that all is well with the way we live.

Consuming our planet’s fossil fuel reserves will ensure we miss carbon emission targets. Although the industry shows little sign of changing its strategy, the financial world is waking up to the threat to investments as well as to the planet. The governor of the Bank of England considers fossil fuels a risky investment because the demands of meeting the 2°C climate target will render the majority of oil, gas, and coal reserves “stranded” and “unburnable.”7 In 2017, at the One Planet Summit in Paris, the World Bank announced its intention to end financial support for oil and gas extraction in response to the threat posed by climate change.8 Recently, the European Investment Bank, the European Union’s lending arm and the world’s largest multilateral financial institution, stated its ambition to become the world’s first “climate bank” by ending its multibillion euro financing of oil, gas, and coal projects after 2021.9

With this editorial, we launch a campaign for divestment from fossil fuels. Our campaign is aimed at health professionals and medical organisations, since divestment is one way of exerting influence on politicians and industry on behalf of our patients and the public. An immediate objective of the campaign is to gain commitments from health professionals and medical organisations to divest from fossil fuel industries. Our long term ambition is that those commitments will be acted on in order to influence politicians and industry. Investment is a choice, and it is now easier to identify sustainable and ethically sound investments that will benefit rather than harm health.10 None of this lessens the responsibility of individuals and organisations to limit their own effect on climate. You will find more on our green journey at www.bmj.com/about-bmj/how-green-is-the-bmj.

The BMJ applauds organisations such as the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the medical associations of America and Canada, and the BMA, our owner, for committing to divest from fossil fuels. For our part, we will not accept advertising or research funded by companies that produce fossil fuels. We will also explore how else our business might be dependent on fossil fuel companies and take steps to end any such reliance. The BMA has no direct holdings in tobacco or fossil fuel companies.

Our new policy towards the fossil fuel industry may seem a minor concession since we receive little or no revenue from this sector. But as our online usage grows rapidly to an increasingly diverse international audience we expect The BMJ will become a more attractive route to market for companies beyond our traditional pool of advertisers. We are clear that income from companies that produce fossil fuels is revenue that The BMJ does not want now or in the future.

Most importantly, we seek your commitment and invite you to sign our online declaration of intent to divest from fossil fuels (https://bit.ly/bmjdivestment) We urge you to follow up your commitment by implementing divestment in your personal finances and in the medical organisations that you belong to. We urge medical organisations to join us in taking a lead to create better health through divestment. We will allow medical organisations to record when they have successfully implemented divestment. Often, individuals and organisations are motivated to divest but don’t know how. In collaboration with the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (which the BMA and BMJ help to fund) we offer guidance to help you successfully divest (box 2).11

Divesting your health organisation

Why should you?

Consider the environmental, health, and economic benefits. Fossil fuels are an increasingly risky investment and fossil fuel free indexes equalled or outperformed unsustainable alternatives for 5-10 years. To “do no harm,” health organisations must challenge damaging activities and not profit from them.

What does your portfolio look like now?

Before deciding on your divestment approach it’s important to understand the carbon footprint of your portfolio. Use tools such as the Montreal Pledge website to do so.

Freeze harmful investments now

We can’t afford to delay action to mitigate climate change. Start now by making no new investments and set a time limit to fully withdraw from the sector. Be transparent about your progress.

How to start the journey

There are many divestment approaches, and your organisation must consider its own inclusion and exclusion criteria and the milestones. Ask your fund manager about fossil fuel free indexes (including from FTSE and MSCI) and consider schemes such as the Transition Pathway Initiative. Engaging with companies whose business model relies on fuel extraction is of limited use—only divestment will stop extraction

Redirect your investment to industries that mitigate climate change and promote planetary health, such as renewables.

For full information visit UK Health Alliance on Climate Change website (ukhealthalliance.org/divestment)


Next steps

We will consider what else to add to the divestment list. Other industries, however, may be more complex in terms of making a case for divestment. For example, how do we tackle the food and drink industries, many of whose products are beneficial to health but others contribute to the global crisis of non-communicable diseases as well as driving climate change? Even beneficial products can be harmful in excess and damaging to the environment. Workable criteria will help decide which other industries should join tobacco and fossil fuels as targets for divestment. We propose possible criteria in box 3. We welcome your views on these criteria and on our fossil fuel divestment campaign overall.

Possible criteria for divestment from an industry

  • Harm caused by the industry, either in the creation or use of its product(s), clearly outweighs the benefits

  • Industry manipulates the science to hide harmful effects

  • The industry is not essential for our existence or an alternative industry is available or can be developed

Hope is not yet abandoned in our world today; it is merely besieged. Divestment offers us an opportunity to end despair and disempowerment, to begin to reclaim our world from misguided political and commercial agendas. By divesting now we wish to restore hope for the future wellbeing of our planet and for human health. SOURCE

Flames of blame: how climate change could upset the race to lead the Conservative Party

The knives are out among Australia’s conservatives as years of climate complacency go up in smoke

NSW Rural Fire Service crews fight the Gospers Mountain Fire at Bilpin, Australia, Dec. 21, 2019. The decade that just ended was by far the hottest ever measured on Earth, capped off by the second-warmest year on record, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP Images via Associated Press)

Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s tone was measured. But his words were as blistering as an Australian bushfire as he denounced his successor as leader of Australia’s main right-centre political party, confusingly named the Liberals.

He “could not explain” why Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to meet with experts or take the bushfire threat seriously, despite warnings from scientists. “It’s just not consistent with the way in which a prime minister would or should act in a national crisis like this.”

“How many more coral reefs have to be bleached? How many more million hectares of forest have to be burned? How many more lives and homes have to be lost before the climate change deniers acknowledge they are wrong?” asked Turnbull.

Then he twisted the knife in his colleague —who has already been publicly shamed for taking a family vacation as Australia burned.

“Rather than doing what a leader should do,” Turnbull said, Morrison “downplayed it and at times discounted the influence of climate change, which is just nonsense from a scientific point of view. So that’s misleading people.”

House on fire

“When your house is burning around you, that’ll change your point of view in a hurry,” said Marilyn Gladu, the only Canadian Conservative leadership candidate with a background in science (she’s a chemical engineer). “We need to get a sense of urgency without waiting for the house to burn down.”

Gladu said the leadership race should be an opportunity for the party to re-think its approach to the climate file.

“I think it needs to be a topic because it’s clear that the policy that we brought on climate change didn’t resonate with Canadians in the election,” she said. “And so, if we’re going to win the next election, we’ve got to come to Canadians with a credible offering.”

Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu arrives for a Conservative caucus retreat on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. She says the Conservatives’ climate policy “didn’t resonate” with Canadians in the last election. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Gladu said the Conservative Party under Andrew Scheer presented policies that left Canadians wondering “how is that going to reduce the footprint? And how much is it going to reduce it by?

“People want to see a chart that says, ‘Here are the Paris targets, and here are the different contributors that we will eliminate in order to achieve that target.’ That’s really what we need to do in order to have a credible plan.”

Scheer failed to explain during the campaign how a government led by him would meet Canada’s Paris targets — and wasn’t even able to say what Canada’s Paris target is when asked for the number directly at a campaign stop in Quebec that was dedicated to climate policy.

That allowed the Liberals to pose as the champions of climate action, although their own plan also falls short of the Paris target — which itself falls short of what scientists say is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Ready for change?

The Conservatives have seen consensus positions in the party on some issues change rapidly.

When leadership candidate Richard Décarie called homosexuality a “choice” on Wednesday, it quickly became clear that opinion was no longer an accepted part of the CPC consensus.

From a stance opposing gay marriage — a position once shared by all federal parties — they have moved to acceptance. After the election loss, it was that issue that finally led to the undoing of Andrew Scheer as leader after two party stalwarts called him out for his unwillingness to attend Pride parades, in an op-ed article they wrote for the Globe and Mail.

Jamie Ellerton, who’s served the party in various roles including as “wagonmaster” of the 2019 Scheer campaign, was one of the authors of that Globe article. He said that the party might find a change of course on climate more difficult than its shift on LGBTQ rights.

“The party at its core continues to be opposed to any new tax, and I think the carbon tax is going to continue to be very unpopular,” he said. “What you saw in Ontario was that this was an issue that Patrick Brown wanted to run on, and the party quickly one-eightied [turned around] in the leadership race that replaced him.”

Carbon levy ‘dead in the water’

Patrick Brown’s experience backing a revenue-neutral carbon tax was similar to that of federal Conservative MP Michael Chong, who placed fifth in the 2017 leadership race.

Chong described his proposal for a carbon tax, offset by a large cut to income taxes, as a “credible, market-based, conservative solution to reduce emissions.” Some small-c conservative economists agree with him. But to the party’s rank-and-file, any proposal that included the word “tax” likely remains anathema, said Ellerton, who shares that view.

“Carbon taxes themselves are probably dead in the water, but electability is going to be a huge part of the conversation as to who the next party leader will be,” he said. “And it’s clear that Canadians are looking for some kind of action and policy from their government.”

Ellerton said the signs of a changing climate are becoming more visible to people, citing the frequent overspilling of the Don River in his own hometown of Toronto.

“This is an issue that Canadians are increasingly concerned about,” he said. “This is an issue that came up a lot for Conservatives at the door, that didn’t pass muster to earn the confidence and a mandate from Canadians.”

Oilpatch politics

One dilemma the party faces is that the last two elections have seen a marked westernization of its caucus and its base. It now draws a disproportionate number of votes from Alberta and Saskatchewan, a region of the country that is an outlier in terms of attitudes to climate change — and where more livelihoods depend on the oil and gas industry than in other parts of Canada.

During the federal election campaign, some reporters travelling with Andrew Scheer noticed a difference in tone when he spoke about energy and climate in the Prairie provinces, compared to other parts of Canada.

Andrew Scheer rolls out the Conservative environment platform in Chelsea, Que., on Wednesday, June 19, 2019. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

In his public appearances in Ontario or Quebec he sometimes spoke about climate change as at least a problem to be managed. Over the course of two days visiting Edmonton and Regina, Scheer denounced the carbon tax and environmental activists, while never uttering the words “environment”, “climate” or “emissions” except in response to media questions.

In the 2020 leadership contest, however, so far the party’s main candidates are from Ontario and points East, and the rules are designed to avoid giving weight to the Western vote.

At the start of the 2019 campaign, the Conservatives were still unsure of the threat they faced from Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada. In 2020, that question has been answered, and a new leader who feels less threatened from the right might feel safer moving towards the centre on climate policy.

But such a move might lead to tensions in Alberta, where the provincial government has invested millions in a “war room”-style Canadian Energy Centre — panned as a “Twitter troll farm” by the NDP opposition. (CBC News contacted the CEC for this story but the organization did not choose to comment.)

‘We know permafrost is melting’

“Does the party want to win in 2019?” Michael Chong asked in 2017. “I think it does. If Conservatives don’t have a credible policy on emissions, a credible policy on climate change, we cannot win the 2019 election.”

No current CPC leadership candidate is proposing the party flip on carbon taxes, but like all politicians — like their counterparts in Australia — they remain at the mercy of events. The Conservative Party leadership vote on June 27 comes at the height of wildfire season.

Activists rally for climate action at Sydney Town Hall on January 10, 2020 in response to the ongoing bushfire crisis in Australia. (Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

Gladu said it’s getting increasingly difficult to deny the evidence of climate change, although she acknowledges that some in the party might still like to try.

“There are still those who may not appreciate the climate change situation that we have in the world,” she said. “But we should be seeing a change in opinion because we’re seeing an increase of floods, of wildfires, a lot of extreme weather events. We know the permafrost is melting, we know the ocean’s pH is rising.

“Certainly, as we see these undeniable facts come forward, people’s views will evolve.”

Meanwhile, there’s movement at the provincial level — where some Conservatives who had boldly united to fight carbon taxes before the election muted their opposition afterwards.

“People voted for it, so we in New Brunswick have to find a way to make it work,” said Premier Blaine Higgs as he somewhat sheepishly announced his resignation from “The Resistance.”

In Australia, while the federal government resists even setting a target for after 2030, all six states have already committed to net zero emissions by 2050.

Fires and floods have a way of focusing minds —even changing them. In 2018, Malcolm Turnbull announced that his government would not, despite promises, put an emissions target into legislation.

Who would have thought then that, 18 months later, the former PM would be calling for a “Green New Deal”?

“The wicked self-destructive idiocy of climate denialism must stop …. Above all, we have to urgently stop burning coal and other fossil fuels.” SOURCE

Quebecor to electrify 1,100 vehicles, making TVA and Videotron fleets 100 per cent electric

Ambitious plan includes purchase of new electric vehicles and conversion of gasoline-powered light trucks with made-in-Quebec technology

Quebecor to electrify 1,100 vehicles, making TVA and Videotron fleets 100 per cent electric

Quebecor is electrifying its entire vehicle fleet to fight the climate crisis.

On Jan. 15, the Quebec-based media and communications company announced it had set “one of the most ambitious targets of any company in Canada,” with a plan to electrify 1,100 vehicles, 900 of which are used cable provider Videotron. This joins 35 electric cars the company already has in rotation.

Pierre Karl Péladeau, president and chief executive officer of Quebecor said it was “important” for businesses to help deter climate damage.

“This process will guarantee responsible management of Quebecor’s fleets: among other things, it will increase the useful life of our light trucks and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by switching to hydroelectricity, one of Quebec’s greatest collective natural assets,” he said.

New EVs and truck conversions

At Videotron, the company will invest more than $14 million in new electric cars and to convert its gasoline-powered light trucks to electric using technology developed by Ecotuned Automobile. It will also be purchasing electric charging stations and updating existing infrastructure. This phase of the plan has a completion date of 2024.

Pierre Karl Péladeau, President and CEO of Quebecor, France Lauzière, President and CEO of TVA Group, Jean-François Pruneau, President and CEO of Videotron, and Sarah Houde, CEO of Propulsion Québec. (CNW Group/Quebecor)

Quebecor says reaching its goals will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent, equal to one person making 85,000 one-way trips by plane from Montreal to Toronto.

Communications company TVA, another Quebecor subsidiary, is also part of the initiative. It plans to have 60 mass-market vehicles, including those used by TVA Nouvelles, to be electric within five years. It also aims to reduce the amount of vehicles needed by 10 per cent.

“The ambitious target we have set with our electrification plan demonstrates our determination to remain at the cutting edge,” said Péladeau. “The other Quebecor subsidiaries that operate vehicle fleets will also be an integral part of this electrification plan in the subsequent phases.”

In tandem with this announcement, Quebecor also announced it is becoming a member of Propulsion Québec, the province’s smart and electric transportation cluster. SOURCE


Electric taxis return to Montreal streets
Wealth management giant acknowledges decade of historic growth ahead for EVs

12 Canadian Cleantech Companies Recognized Among World’s Top 100

Image result for clean tech

SAN FRANCISCOJan. 16, 2020 /CNW/ – 12 Canadian companies were named to the 2020 Global Cleantech 100, an annual roster of the world’s top 100 cleantech companies.

Canada has more ventures on this year’s list than any other country after the United States, while eight of the companies are MaRS-supported ventures. All are poised to help mitigate the climate crisis in tangible, meaningful ways, and grow the global economy in the short- and long-term.

The Global Cleantech 100 recognizes the most innovative ventures tackling the planet’s most pressing environmental issues. This year, more than 13,000 companies were considered for the prestigious award.

“The Canadian companies on the 2020 Global Cleantech list are taking big swings at climate change by reducing emissions and reversing the harm we’ve already done,” said Jon Dogterom, senior vice-president of Venture Services at MaRS. “In particular, this year’s honourees include a strong showing of carbon technologies, innovative firms that are not just removing CO2 from our atmosphere, but using it to make something useful in the process.”

“The Global Cleantech 100 award recognizes successes achieved by our team and partners at making concrete more sustainable,” said Rob Niven, founder and CEO of CarbonCure. “This prestigious recognition will play a critical role in helping us realize our goals of technological advancements and geographic expansion, with the ultimate vision aimed toward reducing up to 500 megatonnes of CO2 annually.”

“We are honoured to be on the Global Cleantech roster of the world’s 100 most promising clean technology firms for the third year in a row,” said Hari Subramaniam, chief strategic growth and policy officer, Opus One Solutions. “At Opus One, we’re building world-class energy solutions to meet the evolving needs and modernization demands of the electricity grid, and the economy around it, to accelerate the energy transition.”

“The transition to clean energy and mobility definitely requires all hands on deck,” said Ajay Kochhar, President and CEO, Li-Cycle. “It is rewarding to see the breadth of Canadian companies, including Li-Cycle, recognized by the Global Cleantech 100 for our part in the worldwide transition away from a carbon-based economy. As rechargeable lithium-ion batteries continue to power the electro-mobility revolution, Li-Cycle is proud to play a key role in this transition by making lithium-ion batteries a truly circular and sustainable product.”

“It feels right that our first list of the future-defining 2020s should see a continued strengthening in the representation of truly impactful and necessary innovations to transform our diets, to enable a more renewable-heavy energy system, and to capture and utilize the vast levels of CO2 we have been freely emitting for decades,” said Richard Youngman, CEO, Cleantech Group. “Also included in our 2020 list are some big and critical shots at solving global problems: from proving out fusion and next-gen batteries to zero carbon aviation.”

Learn more about the MaRS-supported companies named in the 2020 Global Cleantech 100 here.

See the complete list of 2020 Global Cleantech 100 companies.

List of Canadian winners:

  1. Axine Water Technologies*
  2. Carbicrete*
  3. Carbon Engineering
  4. CarbonCure Technologies*
  5. Ecobee*
  6. Enbala Power Networks
  7. GaN Systems*
  8. Inventys (now Svante)
  9. Li-Cycle*
  10. Minesense Technologies*
  11. Opus One Solutions*
  12. Semios

*indicates a MaRS-supported venture

About Cleantech Group
Cleantech® Group provides research, consulting and events to catalyze opportunities for sustainable growth powered by innovation. At every stage from initial strategy to final deals, we bring corporate change makers, investors, governments and stakeholders from across the ecosystem the access and customized support they need to thrive in a more digitized, de-carbonized and resource-efficient future.

Cleantech Group was established in 2002 and is headquartered in San Francisco, with a growing international presence in London. Our parent company, Enovation Partners, is based in Chicago.

About MaRS
MaRS is North America’s largest urban innovation hub. A registered non-profit, MaRS supports high-growth startups and scale-ups tackling key issues in the health, cleantech, fintech and other sectors. In addition, MaRS convenes all members of the tech ecosystem to drive breakthrough discoveries, grow the economy and make an impact by solving real problems for real people — in Canada and around the world.


Why overlooked green energy sector is an economic powerhouse: Don Pittis

As politicians declare themselves open for business, they may have a blind spot

Workers build zero emission school buses at Lion Electric in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec. The sector is fragmented but is growing and creating jobs faster that the rest of the economy. (Lion Electric Co.)

As Alberta’s new government considers how to boost its traditional fossil fuel economy, research released today claims politicians and other Canadians have a blind spot when it comes to the job-creating power of green business.

The report declares that while Canadians obsess about pipelines and shrinking employment in coal, oil and gas, they and their leaders have been ignoring a sector that is outgrowing the rest of the economy, attracting billions of dollars in investment and creating more jobs than either the fossil fuel or mining sectors.

This isn’t the effects of some fancy Green New Deal. Instead, the report, called Missing the Bigger Picture consists of a relatively prosaic tabulation of the growing contribution of clean energy to the existing Canadian economy.

It estimates the clean energy industry accounts for about three per cent of Canada’s GDP, more than agriculture and forestry or the hotel and restaurant industry, and employed 298,000 people in 2017.

“It’s the most comprehensive look at Canada’s clean energy sector that’s been done to date, so it looks at the number of Canadians that are employed in this sector and the economic contribution the sector provides,” said Joanna Kyriazis, with Clean Energy Canada, a non-profit think-tank based at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

What it finds is revealing. As well as being big and growing, attracting more than $35 billion in investment in 2017, the clean energy business sector is invisible to most Canadians and not even classified in most statistics as a sector at all.

Today’s report is compiled from data assembled by Navius Research, a Vancouver-based business that has a reputation for collecting reliable data to guide companies exploring developments in the green sector. In any business, fudged data is a recipe for ruin, and the environmental sector is no exception.

An electric tram arrives in Toronto by rail from Thunder Bay, a component of the job-creating clean energy sector that many might overlook. (Don Pittis/CBC)

Part of what Navius has done is to try to create strict rational criteria for what to include in its assessment of the clean energy economy, exclusively targeting firms where the primary business was clean energy, whether in energy production or in improving energy efficiency.

As the executive director of Clean Energy Canada, Merran Smith says in her introduction to the report, “Put simply, it’s made up of companies and jobs that help to reduce carbon pollution — whether by creating clean energy, helping move it, reducing energy consumption, or making low-carbon technologies.”

Whereas fossil fuel energy data has been accumulated for more than a century, and is clearly identified in government and market statistics, companies contributing to the green energy economy have never been classified as a group. As such, what’s in the category, such as traditional hydroelectric production or power storage or public transit alternatives to cars, or what’s out, may yet be disputed.

Blinkered view

That will work itself out over time, but the concern of Smith and her group, and the reason for assembling today’s report, is the blinkered view of many Canadians that the energy industry and the economy are somehow in conflict with green principles.

Instead, as long predicted by advocates of the green economy, businesses that may initially have been motivated by regulation have begun to find new market-based incentives as the world seeks low-carbon alternatives.

“Instead of being in the compliance part of a company’s brain, all of a sudden it becomes part of the profit part of a company’s brain,” Stewart Elgie, professor of law and economics at the University of Ottawa, told me in a 2015 interview on the future of the business-led green economy.

This has certainly happened as demand in the global green power sector, from components of electric cars to tools and techniques for energy efficiency, reach critical mass.

Economic research has shown that making the world more energy efficient is exactly what successful businesses have done throughout history, because energy is a cost, and cutting costs is what thriving businesses do.

An electric vehicle charging station at the Canadian International Auto Show. As the green energy sector grows it reaches a critical mass of economic activity. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

“The clean energy sector isn’t just about fighting climate change — it’s also about using Canadian innovation to create better and cheaper solutions for everyday life,” said Smith.

If current trends continue, the Navius research says that the effect of the green energy sector will become harder to miss in the economy. Studying the period from 2010 to 2017, not only did the sector outgrow the entire economy by more than one full percentage point, but jobs in that component of the economy increased by 2.2 per cent a year, compared to an annual increase of 1.4 per cent in jobs overall.

Part of the reason why the clean energy sector is not visible is because we think of it under different categories such as public transit or hydroelectric generation. But a second reason is that as a sector, clean energy is fractured into smaller players. It is unlike the fossil fuel industry, which is backed by decades of lobbying success and established connections to political elites.

The clean energy category has no giant business voice or industry group to represent it. Even the firms defined in this report as being clean energy businesses may not see themselves as part of this sector. Perhaps the report will help change that, and will help them get the economic respect they deserve.

Kyriazis says she hopes today’s report will make people more optimistic. Usually when we hear about energy in the media, it is bad news such as a lack of pipelines, falling prices, shrinking jobs or gloom over the effects of climate change, she says.

“The clean energy sector, here, it’s obviously a big success story that is not making the headlines,” she said. SOURCE

Giant Canadian construction project incorporates low carbon heating and cooling: Don Pittis

The Well rising on the old Globe and Mail site digs for more green innovations

Construction workers are dwarfed by the enormous underground reservoir at The Well in downtown Toronto that will be used to heat and cool the entire multi-building complex. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

The company that made an international splash by air conditioning downtown Toronto without air conditioners has more energy-saving innovations in the works.

With the help of a gigantic purpose-built thermal reservoir, Enwave Energy will add an entire new neighbourhood to its underground low-carbon heating and cooling network with the project called The Well on the site that used to be headquarters for the Globe and Mail.

Not only will the seven-building retail, residential and office complex in the city’s business centre be added to Enwave’s lake-water cooling system, but the company is in the process of incorporating a series of revolutionary energy and carbon-saving techniques to keep residents and workers at The Well comfortable.

Digging deep

Even for construction-mad Toronto, the site is large, with more than a million square feet of office space, nearly 2,000 residences and more than 400,000 square feet of retail. The project’s backers estimate that it will serve about 11,000 people daily.

A view of the Enwave Well, under construction. (Enwave Energy)

“It’ll be 100 per cent heated and cooled by Enwave,” said Carson Gemmill, the company’s engineering lead for Toronto.

The project’s name has a double meaning, as its northern access is onto Wellington Street. But at the core of the project is the well itself, a multimillion-litre underground hole that extends into the bedrock from below the lowest parking level to a few metres above sea level.

The solution stored in the well — it is not just water — will act as a giant thermal battery, said Gemming, cold in the summer for air conditioning and hot in the winter for heating.

Enwave, which began life as a publicly owned utility used to heat municipal buildings and hospitals in the city using a centralized or “district” network, garnered global media attention more than a decade ago for its innovation in low-energy cooling.

Using the drinking water supply that the city draws from the chilly depths of Lake Ontario, Enwave sucks out some of that coldness from the just-above-zero Celsius lake water, and circulates it in downtown buildings to cool them without the costly electricity usually required for air conditioning.

Power cuts

Although climate change was not at the top of political agendas in those days, Enwave decreased the city’s peak electricity load by cutting the need for power from the coal-generating stations that at that time still supplied much of Ontario’s power.

One efficiency of the well at The Well is also a matter of peak demand.  The tank is filled overnight with colder water when there are low periods of demand for air conditioning. Enwave, now owned by the conglomerate Brookfield, adds to the thermal battery without increasing its cooling or heating capacity.

But a new heating innovation in the works is even more carbon-efficient, explained Gemmill.

While traditional heating for large industrial buildings like hospitals uses steam boiled by natural gas-burning furnaces, the heating loop for The Well will be based on hot water of the type familiar to people who have radiators in their homes.

How the Enwave well heats at different times of the day. (Enwave)

This water to be pumped for heating doesn’t need to be boiled and that opens the door to green heating alternatives, including electric heat pumps, an energy efficient method of concentrating heat from lower heat sources.

“One of the things that’s kind of interesting about our system is, people may not realize, in the winter months, even on days like today, we still actually have a significant cooling load because of the large data centre clients we serve,” said Gemmill.

Large urban centres around the world like Toronto have massive centralized server farms to act as nodes in data shared on the web to make it quicker to draw up frequently needed information. Individual companies such as banks have local data centres, as do cloud computing providers.

All are huge producers of heat that must be drawn away with cooling systems to prevent system breakdown. But whereas elsewhere that heat is vented to outdoor air, Enwave is engineering a system to capture and reuse it.

Pumped heat

“Really, like 13 C will be the temperature of our chill water coming back, but you run that through a heat pump,” said Gemmill. “So you can produce 60 C on the other side of the heat pump, which is useful for space heating.”

As Gemmill explains, heat pumps are like using a refrigerator in reverse, where heat is drawn out of air or water that may not feel especially warm.

After a recent CBC story on switching to lower carbon power electric heat, a number of readers pointed out that heating with electricity using baseboard resistance heaters can be prohibitively expensive outside Quebec. But as Gemmill explained, using a heat pump cuts that cost dramatically.

“Roughly, for every one unit of electricity you use [with a baseboard heater], you get one unit of useful heat,” said Gemmill. “Heat pumps are three to one. So they are three times more efficient.”

Currently the two giant steam generators Enwave operates to create steam for heat run on natural gas but the switch to hot water allows the new system to use leftover heat from the steam furnace, said Julia St. Michael, Enwave’s director of sustainability engagement.

“That hot water network right now is using waste heat from our facility, but in the future we’ll be able to add lower carbon sources of heat,” said St. Michael. As carbon taxes make gas more expensive, pumping heat from sewer water, industrial sources, as well as server farms, becomes more cost effective.

One of the biggest commercial efficiencies of Enwave’s district heating operation is that it means individual building managers don’t have to have their own air conditioners and heaters or the staff to run them. Centralized warming and cooling also means they have more space to lease out, said St. Michael.

But as Enwave showed with its deep water cooling system, the other advantage is that as new low-carbon technologies come into the mainstream, they can be introduced once at source and instantly apply to every building in the network. SOURCE