As the federal election looms, leaders of all political stripes are promising to increase the zero-emission transportation sector through incentives and investments as a key tool to tackle the climate crisis.
But there’s a catch.
Positioning Canada as a leader in electrifying the transportation sector also means increasing mineral extraction to fuel that growth. Batteries that propel electric vehicles are powered by minerals like lithium, cobalt, graphite and nickel.
The transition is necessary, given the implications of the alternative: continuing to burn fossil fuels as our means of getting around. The transportation sector in Canada currently accounts for around 25 per cent of national greenhouse gas emissions, around 180 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually, according to Natural Resources Canada. As the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned, “unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5 C or even 2 C will be beyond reach.”