Anitra Paris: Climate action across Cascadia—an op-ed on electrification in a time of crisis

On August 29, Justin Trudeau visited a B.C. Hydro facility in Surrey to make a joint announcement with Premier John Horgan about electrification initiatives in the extraction, processing, and liquefaction of natural gas.
On August 29, Justin Trudeau visited a B.C. Hydro facility in Surrey to make a joint announcement with Premier John Horgan about electrification initiatives in the extraction, processing, and liquefaction of natural gas.JUSTIN TRUDEAU

In 2019, there has been a global uprising of youth concerned about climate change. Examples like Extinction Rebellion hosting die-ins, a nonviolent protest that brings attention to the unprecedented mass extinction with one million species facing extinction. And, Greta Thunberg raising her voice and leaving an impression on many of her peers.

Many may also be familiar with the IPCC report stating that there are 12 years left to act. Now one year later, there are 11 years to mobilize and make change. There is a unified voice calling urgently for change.

Most of the headlines from our neighbours to the south are disheartening, ranging from tragic mass shootings to the myriad of atrocious Trump stories. However, there are some positive newsworthy stories spattered throughout. Certain states are pulling ahead and leading the way in decarbonization and fighting the climate crisis. I have been repeatedly impressed with two states: Washington and California.

Washington 

Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee has been paving the way and taking some serious climate action. The state is poised for carbon neutral electricity by 2030 and 100 percent clean energy by 2025. In March 2019, it went as far as banning hydraulic fracking for natural gas exploration.

California 

California is another state that has been taking climate action in strides. It is host to many innovative renewable energy, clean tech and storage companies. For example, Tesla and its recently developed utility-scale storage solution Megapack. The City of Berkeley recently banned natural gas in new buildings, becoming the first city in North America to embrace this clear step toward building electrification.

B.C.’s successes in electrification?

In British Columbia, our electricity generation is relatively low-carbon. However, one-third of our energy consumption still relies on fossil fuels. We need to permeate our energy consumption with clean electricity and stop using fossil fuels for transportation, the built environment, and industrial processes. This idea was echoed in the province’s CleanBC plan, released in December 2018. MORE

Clean energy one of Canada’s fastest-growing industries

 

Prince Edward County could easily become carbon emissions free by 2030, add 3,5018.45 megawatts of carbon free energy at no cost to taxpayers, create life-enhancing  local jobs, add tax revenue, and open the County to green energy investment. What’s lacking? Political  imagination and leadership.

Merran Smith, Executive Director of Clean Energy Canada, speaks about the provincial government’s CleanBC plan aimed at reducing climate pollution, during an announcement in Vancouver, on December 5, 2018. File photo by The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck

Canada’s clean-energy sector is growing faster than the economy as a whole and is rivalling some of the more well known industries for jobs, a new report shows.

Clean Energy Canada, a think-tank at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, is releasing a study today it commissioned to try to paint the first real picture of an industry it feels nobody knows much about but that is critically important to the future both in terms of climate change and the economy.

“Other countries actually keep this data and Canada doesn’t,” said executive director Merran Smith.

People talk about the clean-technology sector often but clean energy encompasses more than high-tech firms making hydrogen fuel cells and electric cars, said Smith.

She said clean energy includes everything from the production and transmission of renewable electricity to transit workers and construction workers making buildings more energy-efficient. So a hydroelectric-dam operator, a bus driver, and the person who installs a high efficiency furnace would all be included in Clean Energy Canada’s job count.

All told, the study concluded, nearly 300,000 Canadians were directly employed in clean energy in 2017, nearly 100,000 more than Statistics Canada data said worked in mining, quarrying, and oil-and-gas extraction. There are 7.5 times as many people working in clean energy as in forestry and logging.

Smith said the goal of the report is to show Canadians just how big a piece of the economic pie clean energy represents. MORE

Making progress in tough times: Lessons from 2018

Image result for CleanBC
CleanBC plan — probably the most comprehensive Canadian attempt to date to achieve the transition to a low carbon economy. (flickr.com)

…But in the midst of these setbacks and outright tragedies, key leaders and movements across our country fought back with great ideas and even greater energy and resolve.

Movements such as “$15 and Fairness” and #MeToo and Black Lives Matter continued, in many places, to gain ground and ensured that out-dated and damaging attitudes were confronted.

Led by great progressive mayors in cities as varied as Vancouver, Saskatoon and Montreal, municipal councils took action to help their neediest citizens, including critical expansions of affordable housing.

The governments of British Columbia and Alberta, though divided on the issue of pipelines, continued to implement ambitious plans to create jobs including with First Nations, build critical infrastructure, and protect the rights of vulnerable communities, to name but a few of their accomplishments. Right before the holidays, BC announced its widely praised CleanBC plan — probably the most comprehensive Canadian attempt to date to achieve the transition to a low carbon economy. MORE