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Shell aims to lead Big Oil in pivot to clean energy

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A short list of just 25 fossil fuel producers are responsible for half of all carbon emissions since 1988, according to the The Carbon Majors Report. The report indicates that if fossil fuel extraction continues the same trend over the next 28 years, global average temperatures would rise approximately 4°C by the end of the century.

Diversification may be a matter of survival for fossil fuel companies in the event there is a global acceleration towards complying with the Paris Agreement. That would mean leaving 60 to 80 per cent of reserves in the ground. What are presently assets could turn into liabilities to the tune of $674 billion (USD) now and $6 trillion by 2028.

While getting Big Oil to pivot to clean energy may seem far-fetched, some fossil fuel giants are starting to get serious about reducing their carbon footprint and diversifying towards clean technologies. Shell is one example of the widening fault lines among Big Oil, and a very notable one.

Stalled: why North America lags as China and Europe lead the way on electric vehicles

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There’s not much urgency about tackling climate change and driving the switch to electric vehicles in Canada’s new federal budget. There are some incentives and voluntary targets for EVs but, on balance, the budget is an example of the mediocre policies holding North America back from catalysing the migration to electric vehicles (EVs). We now have proof from around the world that strong policies are what drives change.

China has disruptive legislation accompanied by a plethora of complementary measures. Canadian/North American initiatives are mild while the European Union is somewhere in between. The results are that China already offers a wide selection of EVs and sales are already booming, the European migration to EVs is imminent while North American governments and automakers are lagging behind, with modest exceptions in some progressive U.S. states and Québec and B.C..

These differences are important because the transportation sector accounts for approximately 60 per cent of oil consumption. Three studies confirm that even a moderate penetration of EVs will have devasting impacts on the petroleum sector. Even Shell believes peak oil is imminent and is engaged in major strides to migrate to clean tech and become the world’s largest power company.

The North American lack of urgency makes it harder for us to stop runaway climate change and even threatens the future of the North American auto industry.

DUBITSKY: LOST OPPORTUNITIES SHOW COST OF CANADA’S MORIBUND CLEANTECH MANUFACTURING STRATEGY

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While General Motors is tying its decision to close its Oshawa, Ontario manufacturing facility to the rise of electric and autonomous vehicles, GM is not the only casualty of Canada’s inaction on clean transportation policy.

Other companies in the space are shifting their activities outside of Canada, opportunities within Canada are being missed, and Canadian cleantech leaders are losing their global competitive advantage, all for lack of a coherent national cleantech manufacturing strategy.

TM4 is one of several examples. The company is a world leader in electric vehicle motor powertrains. But its main manufacturing facility is in China, the world’s largest electric vehicle market, where TM4 products are produced under licence by Prestolite e-Propulsion Systems.

Greenwashing Won’t Save Big Oil’s Failing Tar Sands Business Model

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Tar sands projects are especially vulnerable because the cost of extracting oil from the tar sands is worse than for any other resource.

EXCLUSIVE: STALLED U.S. TAILPIPE STANDARDS COULD TRIGGER THE NEXT AUTO INDUSTRY BAILOUT

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The green transition in China, the world’s largest energy consumer and vehicle market, is unfolding at a faster rate, and with greater intensity, than the Industrial Revolution. And China’s shift to clean transportation is the piece of the puzzle that could have the most dramatic implications for North American automakers, and for the global fossil industry.

Transportation accounts for 60% of the world’s petroleum consumption. So you would think the industries and governments that are banking on that business would have taken notice last year, when China’s plug-in vehicle sales exceeded 600,000. Or again, over the last few months, when the country’s year-over-year plug-in hybrid electric vehicle volumes were up 127% in May and 130% in June.

Trudeau Bet On A Pipeline At A Time When Batteries Are The New Oil

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The prime minister’s dead-end investment of $4.5 billion would have been better spent catching up to competitors in the global green economy.

As World Prepares For Electric-Car Era, Canada’s Still Blowing Smoke

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Some countries plan on banning or phasing out internal combustion engines within decades. Canada doesn’t even have a national strategy.

Trudeau’s True Colours: Trans Mountain Support Meets Greenwashing Of Bill C-69

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Taken together, the Liberals’ approach to each of these items demonstrate that their mindset rests with yesterday’s resource-based economy.

It’s Becoming Clear Canada Doesn’t Have A Game Plan For Clean Technology

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Vague, non-specific commitments in recent federal budgets put Canada’s economy at a disadvantage to clean tech giants like China.

We Can’t Wait Any Longer To Redefine Our Relationship With Plastic

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The only obstacles are political will and the plastic industry lobbies.

When It Comes To Electric Vehicles, China Has Canada Beat On Every Front

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China has become a disruptive, ever-accelerating force driving a global migration of automakers toward zero and low-emission vehicles.

Why coal can’t make America great again

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Among the ways Donald Trump vows to “make America great again” is reviving the US coal industry. That’s a stretch considering the plight coal faces today in the US. 

The combined value of the top four US coal companies fell from $33 billion in 2011 to $150 million in 2015. Coal’s declining role in the US power supply saw it go from 50% in 2006 to 42% in 2011, to 30% in 2016. US coal production dropped 19% in 2016 alone. In 2015, between 11 gigawatts (GW) and 14 GW of US coal capacity went off line.

As Big Oil tanks, why is Canada so slow to adapt?

The business model of Big Oil has already started to collapse.  The model is premised on strong growth to fuel high prices and render economically viable the exploitation of expensive-to-develop, non-conventional fossil fuels, including the tar sands and shale oil and gas.

Note to Justin: Pipelines don’t help transition to green economy

When Justin Trudeau talks of oil pipeline projects as part of an energy transition, what exactly is he talking about?

That we will be on the path to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels by increasing our oil dependency in the short term? And that by immaculate conception we will reduce these very same dependencies over the long term? Supposedly, we will switch to a green economy sometime between now and when we are all dead, with the help of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”.

Despite Trump & Trudeau’s pipeline fetish, green economy will keep booming

US President-Elect Trump (Flickr/Gage Skidmore) and Canadian PM Trudeau (Flickr/Canada 2020) are both big on pipelines

Forces at play suggest there will continue to be significant advancements in the global migration to a green economy.  Trudeau and Trump are rowing against the current.

Electric Vehicles are set to take off…so why is Trudeau still pushing pipelines?

Tesla Model 3 at March 2016 unveiling (Steve Jurvetson/Flickr)

In my previous March 2016 article “Pipelines to Nowhere“, I made the point that the proposed Canadian pipelines are about increasing the international supply of petroleum when all the signs are that demand fossil fuels are levelling off over the longer term.

Trudeau abandons green election promises, lacks real climate plan

Justin Trudeau talking a good game at the Global Progress summit (Canada 2020/Flickr)

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” -Albert Einstein

With the recent National Energy Board approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and Justin Trudeau’s enthusiastic post-election remarks to the effect that Canada can build pipelines and address climate change concurrently, it is time to take stock of just where the current government is heading us. 

China’s war on coal means lots more renewable energy…and fracking

Shale gas is a big component of China’s future energy plans

China has declared war on coal and coal consumption is down as a result. But this coal war offers some good news, some not so good news for Canada, and some bad news, all at the same time.

Green jobs see huge growth globally: Why is Canada missing out?

There are those like Stephen Harper who repeatedly say we must choose between economic development and sustainable development.

And there are those who, concerned about the environment and the latest reports from the International Panel on Climate Change, suggest that economic development and sustainable development should be reconciled.  Countries such as Germany are often cited as cases in point.  Most environmental organizations fall into this latter reconciliation category.

Europe leads the way on building a green economy

The European Union has fast become the global leader on migrating to a green economy, with its Emissions Trading System (cap and trade scheme) in place since 2005. Canada has much to learn from the current and future EU debates on establishing new targets for 2030 – particularly how to fast-forward its badly lagging green economy following the next federal election in 2015.