For those who need their own vehicles, having an electric option now feels like winning the lottery. Avoiding high and wildly fluctuating fuel prices in favour of more predictable electric charges helps in the face of inflationary pressures and cost-of-living increases. With electric vehicle supply shortages, and the federal zero-emissions vehicle sales standard yet to be implemented — which will increase supply and lower costs — not enough people have been fortunate enough to trade their gas guzzlers for greener and, over the course of the vehicle’s life, less expensive electric options.
The cost-of-living crisis and the climate crisis share the same root cause:
expensive oil and gas with volatile prices attached. Forty-one per cent of overall inflation has been driven by the high cost of fossil fuels, according to Leah Stokes at the University of Santa Barbara. We know we need to transition to clean and reliable electricity, not just to protect the planet but also to protect our pocketbooks. The lowest electricity costs are found in provinces with the cleanest grids. Those still planning to keep dirty generation on the grid are doing their ratepayers a disservice. Renewables like wind and solar have been the least expensive form of electricity now for years — significantly cheaper than fracked gas electricity. The cost of onshore wind has gone down by more than 70 per cent over the past decade, and the costs of solar and energy storage have dropped by more than 90 per cent over the same time. Meanwhile, oil and gas prices continue to be extremely volatile, with huge price spikes in the last year that are worsening energy poverty and the affordability crisis globally.
Canadian-produced clean electricity from sources like wind and solar, backstopped by our existing hydro dams and investments in transmission, is not just cheaper but also more secure. We’ll be less dependent on the whims of fossil fuel companies or spikes in fossil fuel prices internationally. Producing clean electricity at home will also create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs. A clean energy transition brings more control and price consistency while moving us away from the global insecurities and price spikes created by fossil fuel markets.
A clean energy transition brings more control and price consistency while moving us away from the global insecurities and price spikes created by fossil fuel markets.
More energy security and certainty on long-term pricing helps better planning to address the growing challenges of energy poverty that already affect many Canadian households.
Another way to reduce costs and to tackle inflationary challenges is to use energy more efficiently. Building and home retrofit programs are designed to do exactly that. Moving from burning fossil fuels such as fracked liquefied gas to high-efficiency renewable electricity–powered electric heat pumps saves money and emissions. Energy efficiency and home retrofits save money, improve health and create more comfortable living spaces. The federal government is seeking to manage affordability struggles while reducing emissions that worsen the climate crisis. This is the right time to expand energy efficiency work, which reduces carbon emissions and costs.
Accelerate transition from oil and gas
Moving from fossil fuels to clean electricity is at the very core of decarbonization. Canada’s reliance on oil and gas is not only driving up our bills, it’s also making it hard to provide for our children, while worsening climate change is threatening their future.
Canada’s reliance on oil and gas is not only driving up our bills, it’s also making it hard to provide for our children, while worsening climate change is threatening their future.
When we start using more clean electricity to power our lives, we use less energy, and our overall energy costs go down. We insulate homes, electrify transportation and use heat pumps and more efficient appliances. It’s clear we have to transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy, so why not get the economic advantages of earlier adoption? Fossil fuel companies have been working hard to convince us we should delay this transition, but we’ll pay more in the short and long runs if we avoid making the inevitable transition now.
The 2022 World Energy Outlook says fossil fuels are expensive, volatile and a risk to national security. The current energy crisis will accelerate the transition to affordable, reliable clean electricity.
Powering our lives with clean electricity brings affordability and climate wins. What’s not to love?