Canada’s place at the climate table

Canada contributes less than 2% of the world’s total GHG emissions. Criticism of Canada’s progressive stance towards reducing emissions is often based on comparative analyses, especially with respect to the world’s largest emitters: China, the US, and India among them. The chart below displays the importance of Canada’s place at the table:

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https://www.visualcapitalist.com/all-the-worlds-carbon-emissions-in-one-chart/

The chart, based on 2017 data, shows that there are quite a few other countries with similar emissions profiles to Canada’s. Excluding the three aforementioned countries and the “Rest of the World”, those with emissions of more than 1% of the global total add up to a cumulative total of greater than 25%. It’s the responsibility of all countries to reduce their emissions – global climate change is a global challenge.

Canada’s leadership on this issue could lead to a race-to-the-top with our trading partners, compounding our efforts resulting in an accelerated decrease in emissions rates.

Does implementing battery storage result in GHG emission reductions?

Batteries are often touted as technology that will help solve the climate change problem. In some cases, direct emission reductions do occur with their use – battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs), for example, in comparison to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, do not produce any tailpipe GHGs. The answer for EVs vs ICEs becomes more complicated when we start broadening the life cycle and look at where the electricity for EVs is sourced from – a coal plant and a solar array have vastly different emissions profiles.

When it comes to electrical grids and their use of storage and whether the use of storage reduces GHG emissions, the answer is even more complicated! Brightspot Climate recently conducted research on jurisdictions in North America leading the way on energy storage and renewables integration. What we found is that even in the most progressive jurisdiction – California – an incentive program to increase energy storage adoption resulted in GHG emissions increases!*

The culprit? Improper rate-setting, and competitive electricity production rates.

In California, electricity production is somewhat at par between fossil fuel and renewable installations. Energy storage should thus have been incentivized to only charge when renewable installations were producing, and discharge when fossil fuel installations were producing. However, because of the very close proximity in pricing between the two generation types, storage operators were finding that the rates paid to them by utilities to incentivize charging (an example of a time-of-use or TOU rate) were sometimes timed with fossil fuel generation. The problem? GHGs were not accurately measured or accounted for in these rates.

In December 2018, in response to this issue, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) proposed the inclusion into utility TOU rates of a digitally accessible real-time marginal GHG signal based on 5-minute intervals.

It remains to be seen if California’s revision will be successful in reducing their GHGs according to their targets.

*It’s important to note that our research did not encompass imports and exports of electricity.

Ride to the Finish

We are very proud with the success of Banff Marathon 2019! We are sure the runners have a lot to celebrate and great memories to be kept forever. One of Brightspot’s employees, Rodrigo Cubedo, has ran for the second time this year and here he talks a little bit about his amazing experience.

“This is my second year quantifying the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the world’s greenest marathon. I never thought that a marathon would have a significant environmental footprint. But throughout the quantification I realized that most emissions are transportation related as the 2,700 plus participants make their way to Banff.

This year I decided to decrease my footprint in the best way I could. I gathered a group of three brave friends, and we began a motorcycle trip through the Canadian Rockies. The trip wasn’t easy: we got a flat tire and with it a member of the team had to return home and we lost another motorcycle 500 km away from Banff. Down to two runners and one bike, we pushed through the incredible mountainous lake views until we made it to Banff.

The day of the event is where the real effort was demonstrated. Months of planning and the tireless volunteers ensure that every bit of waste gets properly recycled. I was stopped cold as I almost put a paper looking cup into the paper bin, when a volunteer showed me that the lid of the cup was wax coated and could not be recycled there. Even throughout the race, there were bins to properly dispose of water cups and running gels.

The event had a very low footprint, but it also had a longer lasting effect as it motivated me to consider my environmental footprint throughout my lifestyle. Now back in the office, I am motivated to quantify Banff’s GHG emissions and help them identify the best ways to decrease their emissions.”

If you had no chance to participate this year, stay tuned for more in 2020!

A rising tide...forces some boats to the surface?

17 automakers in the sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump and to California Governor Gavin Newsom this past week regarding the challenge associated with differing automotive pollution standards. California has maintained that they would enforce stricter regulations, while the federal U.S. government has advocated in favour of lowering these standards. This creates a double standard for automakers, who may be forced to manufacture two sets of vehicles with differing pollution standards - a clear business problem (California is the U.S.'s largest auto market). The automakers have suggested a compromise between the two. This tug-of-war may be a sign of things to come when jurisdictions fight over what rules should be enforced to help businesses, taxpayers, and the environment...

Find more here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/06/climate/trump-auto-emissions-rollback-letter.html

Transportation: a significant way to reduce our carbon footprint

I am still relatively new to the idea of being sustainable and reducing my personal carbon footprint, as well as the carbon footprint of the businesses I work in and with.  This means that I don’t take a scientific approach necessarily, but more of a business related one.  For me, any changes I undertake have to be financially sustainable, as well as easy to adapt, or I won’t be able to make them. 

One key area, that generates a large percentage of emissions, is transportation.  Luckily, this is also an area where, as consumers, we have a great deal of choice. Consumers, also in great part, drive the market. So where there is demand, products will be made. I encourage businesses of all sizes to think about the frequency and types of transportation they are using and how they could modify it to reduce the impact on the environment. 

Check out this article https://www.greenbiz.com/article/mixed-promise-renewable-natural-gas-decarbonize-fleets written by Gregory Heilers on renewable natural gas. You will find out more about one way to change your transportation use to reduce your carbon footprint and become more sustainable in your personal and business life.

Where were you when it was FREEZING in February?

Much of western North America experienced much colder than normal temperatures in February.  I remember several people joking, “Where is climate change now?”  Well, the answer is, “the rest of the world.”

Data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies shows that average temperatures in parts of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan were between 4 and 8 degrees colder than normal (normal defined as the average temperatures from 1951 to 1980).  During the same period, temperatures were 4 to 12 degrees warmer than normal in Alaska, most of Northern Europe and a big swath of Russia.  Check out this link to NASA’s website where you can explore temperature deviations over the last 60 years.  If you look for a few months, you might see the trend of the largest anomalies nearest to the poles where sea ice is melting rapidly.

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Our team keeps growing!

We are very happy to announce the addition of two new members to the Brightspot team. Here they are and, again, their answers for our 20 questions in 20 seconds, showing us a little bit of themselves.

Sheldon Fernandes

1. WHAT THREE TRAITS DEFINE YOU?  

Adaptable, compassionate and passionate.

2. WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY?

Community over competition.

3. WHAT’S ONE THING YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Stories.

4. WHAT IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE HAD TO OVERCOME IN YOUR LIFE THUS FAR? 

Engineering school.

5. WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU CANNOT RESIST?

My mom’s beef tongue curry – I know it grosses some people out, but I love it!

6. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR?

Isolation.

7. WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO BE?

Anywhere in nature – by the ocean, in the forest, in the mountains.

8. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO?

Hike.

9.  WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE YOU’VE TRAVELED TO AND WHY?

The Peruvian Amazon – I was down there as part of a small team searching for an anaconda to (eventually) prove mercury contamination from artisanal gold mining in the water, affecting nearby communities.

10. WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRAVEL TO NEXT?

Australia.

11. WHAT’S THE WEIRDEST JOB YOU’VE EVER HAD?

Labelling CDs.

12. WHICH ONE WOULD YOU WANT MOST: FLYING CARS, ROBOT HOUSEKEEPERS, OR MOON CITIES.

Flying cars. We’re so close!

13. WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST IMPORTANT INNOVATION YOU HAVE WITNESSED IN YOUR LIFETIME?

The smartphone.

14.  WHAT WOULD YOU DO (FOR A CAREER) IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS?

Writer in some capacity – film, music, books, etc. I’ve settled for Instagram posts, for now.

15. WHAT ARE YOUR THREE MOST OVERUSED WORDS/PHRASES?

“Sup”, “hey”, and “good evening”.

16.  WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO TELL YOURSELF AT AGE 13?

Don’t take yourself so seriously!

17.  HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?

Sustainable.

18.  WHAT IS THE BEST BOOK YOU HAVE EVER READ?

Jurassic Park – biology and technology. I’m always running around searching for velociraptors!

19.  TELL US SOMETHING THAT MIGHT SURPRISE US ABOUT YOU.

I’ve started a few screenplays.

20.  WHAT MAKES YOU EXCITED TO WORK AT BRIGHTSPOT?

I’m excited to be part of a small team building something to make positive impact!

Roberta Nunes

1.     WHAT THREE TRAITS DEFINE YOU?  

Determination, loyalty and compassion.

 2.     WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY?

One step at a time.

3.     WHAT’S ONE THING YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Breakfast.

4.     WHAT IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE HAD TO OVERCOME IN YOUR LIFE THUS FAR? 

Living abroad.

5.     WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU CANNOT RESIST?

Bread.

6.     WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR?

Not being able to reach my goals.

 7.     WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO BE?

My home.

8.     WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO?

Spending time with me.

9.     WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE YOU’VE TRAVELED TO AND WHY?

Buenos Aires in 2011 because it was a refreshing for my mind.

10.  WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRAVEL TO NEXT?

Alaska.

11.  WHAT’S THE WEIRDEST JOB YOU’VE EVER HAD?

Recycle bins manager, as a volunteer at Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade.

12. WHICH ONE WOULD YOU WANT MOST: FLYING CARS, ROBOT HOUSEKEEPERS, OR MOON CITIES.

Robot housekeepers.

13. WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST IMPORTANT INNOVATION YOU HAVE WITNESSED IN YOUR LIFETIME?

Smartphone.

14.  WHAT WOULD YOU DO (FOR A CAREER) IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS?

I would be a photographer or work with something related to photography.

15. WHAT ARE YOUR THREE MOST OVERUSED WORDS/PHRASES?

“Everything is going to be all right”, “Thank you” and “Let’s figure it out”.

16.  WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO TELL YOURSELF AT AGE 13?

Girl, don’t be afraid, keep being strong, accepting the challenges, and you will see the spectacular woman you will going to be. Trust me, you will love what is coming for you.

17.  HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?

Respecting and relating well with others, everywhere, make me feel a successful person.

18.  WHAT IS THE BEST BOOK YOU HAVE EVER READ?

The Kite Runner.

19.  TELL US SOMETHING THAT MIGHT SURPRISE US ABOUT YOU.

I have played volleyball for four years when I was teenager, as setter.

20.  WHAT MAKES YOU EXCITED TO WORK AT BRIGHTSPOT?

People and the business itself. I feel that I make a better world being part of a company that helps to protect the environment.

"Government of Canada fighting climate change with price on pollution"

Here is the latest news releases from the Government of Canada on Climate Change.

Canadians are seeing the costs of climate change first hand, from wildfires in the west to floods in the east, smoke that makes the air unsafe to breathe and heatwaves that endanger the young and the elderly. We need to act now to fight back against climate change, for our children and grandchildren.

The Government of Canada has a plan that protects the environment while growing the economy, and that plan is working – our emissions are down and the economy has grown by 500,000 full-time jobs. But we know we need to do more.

The Government of Canada worked with provinces and territories for two years, giving them the flexibility to design their own climate plans that included putting a price on carbon pollution. A price on pollution gives people the incentive to make cleaner choices and gives businesses incentives to find clean solutions. Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Yukon have stepped up and shown leadership, either by developing their own systems or choosing to adopt the federal pollution pricing system. Other provinces have not recognized the cost of pollution.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that there will be a federal system in place in Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan in 2019. This is the next step in the government’s plan to protect the environment and grow the economy. Any direct proceeds collected will go directly back to people in these provinces. Households will receive a Climate Action Incentive, which will give most families more than they pay under the new system. Funds will also be given to the provinces’ cities, schools, hospitals, businesses, and Indigenous communities to, for example, help them become more energy efficient and reduce emissions, helping Canadians save even more money, and improve our local economies.

To read more click here https://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2018/10/23/government-canada-fighting-climate-change-price-pollution