Putin’s war has created an electroshock for Europe because it depends on fossil fuel imports for 60% of its energy, one-third of which comes from Russia. Organically evolving European Union (EU) plans target 2027 for a massive and rapid transition to a green economy and energy independence. Renewables, electric vehicles, clean technologies and energy efficiency will all play major roles in the creation of fast-forward paradigms for global emulation. For the immediate, by the end of 2022, EU plans entail cutting Russia gas imports by two-thirds, substitution fuel sources plus ramping up renewables and energy efficiency. These EU plans will be devastating for the Russian economy. Russia needs European oil and gas revenues more than Europe needs these fuels.
China is several years ahead of other developed countries on the migration to a green economy, in clean technology production capacity, massive market penetration and green investments. China already has an extraordinary global green export potential. China leads in renewables, electric vehicles and battery production, incrementally regulating plastic solutions, high-speed rail, private clean tech investment, government environmental support and green bonds. China’s concurrent climate actions are gamechangers destined to have huge global competition impacts on energy, economic, transportation, industrial and other paradigms, perhaps more so than the climate crisis. But there are simultaneous contradictions. China is the world’s largest liquified natural gas importer, once again ramping up coal production and certainly not a leader on human rights.
BlackRock, the world’s largest investment firm, has indicated that those that don’t tackle climate change will lose money in 5 years. Some financial institutions have made multi-trillion commitments from now to 2030 to invest in the green economy while still focusing the majority of investments in fossil fuels. Canadian banks are among the global top fossil fuel investors.
The global natural gas industry, including that of Canada, has high hopes for weaning Southeast Asia from coal dependency. Concurrently, low-cost renewables are swiftly changing the electrical power landscape in this part of the world. Vietnam, caught in the squeeze between the two competing types of power sources, is favouring a clean energy metamorphosis. The country now has the greatest installed solar energy capacity in Southeast Asia. Government policies are both supportive and handicaps. Grid infrastructure is woefully insufficient. International support is critical to solidify the transition to clean energy.
On a global scale, less than 10 percent of plastics are recycled. Plastics are ubiquitous, meaning regulating its use is especially complex. While Canada has only banned a half dozen of single-use plastics, the European Union and China are engaged in a holistic multi-year incremental approach to manage plastic production, distribution, consumption, recycling, disposal and substitution. Accordingly, the actions of these latter jurisdictions will influence global innovation and standards. By comparison, Canada’s plastic initiatives are symbolic greenwashing.
Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) was made public March 29, 2022. Since the country’s oil and gas sector with methane included, plus transportation components, together, represent about half of Canadian emissions, one would have thought these sectors would be objects of strong climate initiatives. Yet, for these sectors, the ERP appears to be the product of accommodation of industry lobbies. The action items stupendously lack integrity and are weak. As such, the ERP like all previous government emission reduction targets, will not achieve its goals.