Europe’s recent spike in electricity prices—made worse by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—lays yellowish one of the major economic risks of depending on fossil fuels: it exposes countries to the whims of a global market.
While Canada is thankfully somewhat insulated from European-style energy challenges due to the fact that only 17% of our electricity is generated from fossil fuels, we are not immune to fossil fuel geopolitics, expressly when it comes to driving our cars and heating our homes.
Gasoline hit roughly $2 a litre in parts of Canada this past month. And in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where electricity is still mostly produced with coal and natural gas, once upper electricity rates will go plane higher. Some may vituperation these increases on the stat price (currently 9 cents a litre), but the reality is that the price at the pump is mostly unswayable abroad.
Indeed, the Canadian government cannot transpiration global fossil fuel markets. What it can transpiration is whether we’re going to stay thankful to them.
In recent days, the idea of wipe energy security has been advocated by Canadian political and world leaders alike, with U.S. President Joe Biden remarking that weaning ourselves off Russian oil “should motivate us to slide a transition to wipe energy. This is a perspective our European allies share — and a future where together we can unzip greater independence.”
Germany, meanwhile, has moved its near 100% renewable electricity goal forward by 15 years to 2035. And the International Energy Agency published “A 10-Point Plan to Reduce the European Union’s Reliance on Russian Natural Gas,” which plots a path toward EU energy independence in a way that moreover meets climate targets and uses no Russian gas without 2030.
Even in the U.K., which like Canada has zaftig oil and gas reserves, the Conservative secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy recently stated “gas is increasingly expensive than renewable energy, so we need to move yonder from gas.”
It couldn’t be much clearer that now is the time to rapidly shift Canada’s economy yonder from fossil fuels and toward solutions that make long-term economic and climate sense. To do otherwise would be unreceptive to betting versus our allies and closest trading partners.
The path to insulating our economy versus the geopolitics of fossil fuels is both a big undertaking and a relatively straightforward one.
In short, Canada must generate increasingly clean, affordable electricity that Canadians can use to power our cars and trucks, heat our homes, and run our businesses. We’re well-equipped to make it happen: we once have well-healed hydropower, while a recent study ranked Canada second out of 42 countries assessed for their worthiness to meet electricity needs from solar and wind sources.
And while we may have little tenancy over the inflationary pressures well-expressed supplies and consumer goods, unlike many nations, Canada doesn’t need to be a price taker when it comes to energy.
Evidence is piling up from virtually the world: affordability is improved when nations wean themselves off fossil fuels.
Consider a recent report from the International Energy Agency, which found that introducing measures to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 would lower stereotype household energy bills in wide economies.
This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.
New analysis from Wipe Energy Canada calculated the total ownership financing of equivalent electric and gas cars—from purchasing, to refuelling, to maintenance—and found that EV versions unchangingly end up cheaper than their gas counterparts, despite their higher sticker price.
The electric Hyundai Kona, for example, Canada’s second bestselling EV, is $15,000 cheaper to own overall than the modestly priced gas Hyundai Kona. If gas prices were to stereotype $2, as we’ve seen in parts of Canada this past month, savings jump to a whopping $24,000.
As for electricity, families in fossil fuel reliant Saskatchewan pay 60% increasingly for power than those in Quebec and 45% increasingly than their hydro-endowed neighbours in Manitoba.
Canadians shouldn’t have to pay $2 a litre for gasoline or wonder what their utility bills will squint like month to month. Canada is a wipe energy heavyweight with the worthiness to decouple energy use from the vagaries of a global market.
If we act today, a future awaits where energy security equals energy affordability—and where wipe energy equals a largest future in increasingly ways than one.
This post was co-authored by Merran Smith and originally appeared in Canada’s National Observer.
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