Recently, Alex Guberman from E for Electric published a somewhat sheepish video wherein he admitted that "Tesla may not be doomed after all."
The May sales numbers for EVs, plug-in hybrids, and soft hybrids had just been published by Inside EVs, and they looked particularly good for Tesla... but perhaps not so great for those who, for whatever reason, like to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt about Tesla. (These folks are affectionately known as FUDsters in the industry.)
Of course, in the industry, I suppose I would be dubbed a Tesla "Fanboy," so my opinion could certainly be perceived as biased.
But let's look at something that's not biased: numbers.
Specifically, lets look at the US sales data for EVs, plug-in hybrids, and soft hybrids for just the month of May, 2019. As I said, these numbers come from InsideEVs, who consistently do a great job of gathering and publishing sales numbers for automobiles in the electric and hybrid sector.
The reasons for Tesla's strong sales results are many, but I thought I would share some of them with you here, as well as a rather interesting fact I found when I analyzed the sales numbers for the month of May.
First, let me confess that I told Alex, in the comments posted below his video, that he's funny. I pointed out that he talks about Tesla as if it "may" not be doomed after all (which, in Alex's defence, may have been sarcasm as opposed to a solemn admission), and I suggested that Alex - and everyone else - take Elon's advice when analyzing Tesla: start from first principles.
First Principles, as they Apply to the EV market
Principle #1: EVs are the new mode of personal transportation.
Electric vehicles are replacing the internal combustion engine. This is now perfectly clear. You don't need to take my word for it: even the presidents and CEOs of the top legacy automobile manufacturers are now admitting this as they scramble to catch up in the EV market. This past December, after announcing the impending closure of the GM plant in Oshawa, Ontario, Travis Hester, the president of GM Canada, said that "EVs are the future." This past February, Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo, announced that Honda would be closing its plants in England and Turkey as they restructure for electrification. He stated, "We have decided to carry out this production realignment in Europe in light of our efforts to optimize production allocation and production capacity globally as well as accelerating electrification." Just two days ago, in a Tokyo press conference, Executive Vice President of Toyota, Shigeki Terashi, confessed that, "Demand for electric vehicles has grown stronger than we had projected." Toyota, who had been the industry laggard in bringing EVs to market (even making fun of electric vehicles in their advertising up until very recently), has now announced that they are pushing their EV program five years ahead of schedule.
Principle #2: In the EV market, Tesla is the juggernaut.
Compared to Tesla, all of the other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are producing paltry numbers of units, and they are offering products that are having a very hard time competing with the products offered by Tesla. I will present more on this below, as I dissect the US sales numbers for the first five months of 2019.
Principle #3: Tesla has a huge first-move advantage.
In both electric vehicles and autonomous driving, Tesla has years of lead time on other OEMs. Very recently, ARC Invest stated that Tesla is easily a few years ahead of their competition.
Tesla only needs to stay about one year ahead of the competition to have an overwhelming advantage.
However, the harsh reality for all other car companies is this: Tesla only needs to stay about one year ahead of the competition to have an overwhelming advantage. At any given point in time, once a consumer makes the decision to buy an EV, what are they going to buy: the most advanced electric vehicle available with the longest track record of success, or something else? You tell me.
A Deeper Dive into the Sales Numbers
I took the liberty of copying and pasting the data provided by InsideEVs into a spreadsheet so that I could work with the numbers. (That spreadsheet is available to be downloaded at the bottom of this article.) I was curious to put these numbers into perspective, so I decided to add up the sales for Tesla Models S, 3, and X, and then compare those numbers to all the other models available in the US EV, plugin-hybrid, and soft hybrid market.
Here's what I found.
If that doesn't put things into a rather stark perspective, then I'm not sure what will.
With companies like Toyota already conceding defeat to Tesla, it's pretty difficult to imagine Tesla's competition doing very well ten years from now.
Tesla never planned to take over the automobile market. Their mission is, and always has been, to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Ironically, that means that Tesla is motivated to make their cars the most compelling vehicles on the planet, and to keep their customers driving their electric vehicles for a million miles. Undoubtedly, this is a very difficult value proposition for traditional car companies to compete with.
Manufacturers of automobiles powered by internal combustion engines are invariably falling victim to the biggest disruption since the gas-powered automobile replaced the horse and carriage. These traditional car manufacturers have always depended on dealerships, maintenance and service fees, and possibly even planned obsolescence to drive their revenues. Now they have to compete with a company that has a deeper purpose than just earning money, and a longer-term vision than just the next quarter's financials.
I truly hope that the traditional car manufacturers do learn to adapt and survive in the emerging era of electrified transportation. After all, as much as I admire Elon Musk and Tesla, one relatively new company cannot possibly facilitate the transition to electrification as quickly as the world needs it to happen. We're going to need all of the world's major automobile manufacturers to come out with strong EV sales numbers every single year for the next ten years if we are to achieve the monumental task that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outlined in its 2018 Climate Change Report. However, it is now becoming painfully clear that the traditional automobile manufacturers are going to be facing an increasingly uphill battle as they set out to compete in this rapidly evolving market.
Tesla is more than a car company. It is a social movement... and it is a critical one.
Tesla, in a nutshell, is a private response to climate change. It is a challenge to the status quo of burning fossil fuels, and that is a status quo that would almost certainly lead to the end of human civilization.
Big business and governments have been far too slow to recognize and respond to climate change. Yet, Elon Musk had the intelligence and the integrity to create a fortune, and then bet that entire fortune on the prospect of providing a solution to climate change: namely, sustainable transportation, renewable energy, and renewable energy storage.
Mr. Musk continues to double down on his commitment, building his network of companies at a breakneck pace, and constantly pushing his organization to the brink. He does this because he understands the urgency of our predicament.
Have you ever said to yourself, "Had I been there... I would have stood for the hard right against the easy wrong"? Have you ever thought, "Were I there... back in the times of slavery, I would have done things differently"? Have you ever claimed, "If I were around... during the Holocaust, I would have raised my voice"?
Well, climate change is probably the biggest challenge that any generation will be called to confront, and we are all here... right now. We happen to be living and making decisions at this pivotal moment in history.
My family and I have chosen to stand up. Yes... it comes with some sacrifice, perhaps even a certain amount of risk: standing up for what is right always does.
But we have agreed that we don't want to go down without a fight. Whatever the future may bring, my wife and I want our children to know that we loved them so much that we did everything we could. And no matter how things turn out, we want to be on the right side of history.
Your plan to spread partisan propaganda at Ontario gas pumps may just backfire on you, Mr. Premier. An open letter to Doug Ford
Dear Premier Ford,
Ironically, I find that I am actually in support of your misguided attempt to sabotage climate solutions by spreading partisan propaganda across Ontario gas pumps. Allow me to explain.
While I am troubled by the news that gas stations may be threatened with a $10,000 fine for failing to affix your carbon tax propaganda to their pumps, I think your devious little plan may in fact serve to achieve two positive ends. Not only will your stickers heighten awareness of climate change, they will invariably help reduce the demand for gasoline as well.
You see, a Pygouvian tax is intended to reduce demand for a good (such as gasoline) that causes a negative externality (such as climate change). However, a Pygouvian tax isn't going to be all that effective if the consumer isn't even aware that it exists. To be sure, consumers are well accustomed to tremendous volatility at the pump, so it is quite unlikely that gas buyers would have even noticed the price of gas going up by a nickel here or a dime there. But lucky for us, your little stunt will constantly remind them.
Thank you, Mr. Premiere... with your help, we'll have Ontarians driving electric in no time!
Yours in the environment,
As you may know, our family drives electric vehicles. Naturally, maintaining a liveable planet for our children is our primary motivation for driving electric. However, I must say... the fact that we no longer contribute a percentage of our family income to stuff the bank accounts of oil tycoons pleases us to no end. Take it from me, that fact alone is more than enough motivation to stop one from driving a gas car. The $1,400.00 to $1,600.00 in annual gas savings per car is, I suppose, the icing. But the real cherry on top would have to be the new federal Climate Action Incentive. That policy will provide our family of four with an additional $307.00 refund on our annual tax return. Don't worry, Mr. Premier... we won't forget to claim this incentive at line 449 of the 2018 standard tax form.
Isn't it funny how your government jacks gas buyers for even more tax than the feds, yet you don't give any of that money back to consumers, do you, Mr. Premier? Funny how your silly stickers don't mention that interesting fact... don't you think?
Dear climate denial lobby,
Let's be friends. I need some quick cash because I'm looking to buy another Tesla... maybe that sweet new Model Y!
So look, I was wondering if the climate denial lobby would fund me... say around $100,000.00 (that's nothing to you guys, right?) to write a paper showing that, out of the roughly 50 million research papers written on any topic since the beginning of time, only 3,896 research papers, exploring the cause of climate change, published between 1991 and 2011, actually support anthropogenic climate change.
Then you could tell everybody that only 0.008% of research supports anthropogenic climate change!
Get it!? And the beauty is... you wouldn't even be lying!
I mean, come on, that's gold! Am I right?
Call me. We'll talk.
I realize there is nothing particularly new in my proposed approach to climate denial: after all, this is the basic tactic you've been utilizing on a daily basis for decades in attempt to create a false sense of doubt on the issue of anthropogenic climate change. However, I think the true genius to my proposal is in its bold, take-no-prisoners, approach. I mean, if you're going to skew research results, then skew those results good!
Whoever thought that buying a car could not only be fun, but convenient, too? Take it from me... Tesla doesn’t need stores to sell and deliver their game-changing line of automobiles.
You may have heard that Tesla recently announced that they are closing some of their retail stores. To the uninitiated, this news may sound unsettling.
It's not... at all.
Tesla's decision to close a number of its retail stores is actually good news for Tesla and for both current and future Tesla buyers. I say this for three reasons. First, regardless of the presence of retail stores, all Teslas were already ordered online. Second, the cost savings achieved by closing these retail stores will allow Tesla to not only deliver the Model 3 at it's long-awaited base price of $35,000.00, but also to shift resources over to its service centres. Third, the closing of Tesla stores represents yet another dramatic example of the profound advantage that Tesla has over its competitors: namely, Tesla does not need to protect an existing line of legacy gas cars, and it does not depend upon a worldwide network of franchise dealerships to sell its products. While there may be those who would like to spin Tesla's decision to close storefronts as foreboding news, the only people quaking in their boots at this moment is Tesla's competition. They were already struggling to deliver competitive products at competitive prices, and now they have woken up to the news that the world's leading EV manufacturer will no longer be bearing the weight of brick and mortar shops to facilitate its sales.
I suppose it would be fair criticism to say that's all just my opinion, but here are some first-hand facts that I can share about my own experience with the Tesla ordering experience. Perhaps this account will give future Tesla buyers some valuable insight into why Tesla just doesn't need a network of retail stores to sell their ever-growing line of products.
Our Tesla Purchase Story
In the summer of 2018, after 13 years of saving for an EV, my wife and I decided to finally buy a Tesla Model X. We had considered many options, and over the years, we had test driven everything from the Nissan Leaf, the BMW i3, the Kia Soul, to the Chevy Volt.
Eventually, however, we settled upon the Tesla Model X. With a single phone call, a sales rep drove a Model X to our house, took our whole family out for an extended test drive - kids included - giving both my wife and I a chance to drive the car. He let the kids play around inside and out, experimenting with any buttons they could get their tiny little hands on, playing with the electronic seats, the touch screen, and, of course, the falcon wing doors.
Then the sales rep capped it off with a garage fitting to make sure that the rather large Model X could not only fit in our garage, but that the falcon wing doors could actually open up inside the garage as well.
We were absolutely thrilled with the car. The next day, we phoned our sales rep and said we would like to go ahead with the order. He then advised us to simply order the car online using our Tesla account. (I had already registered my Tesla account back in January of 2017 when I became a reservation holder for a Model 3.)
The buying process was simple, convenient, and the online account provided clear updates and confirmations every step of the way. After registering a Tesla account online, you just select a Tesla model, choose your configuration (i.e. 5, 6, or 7 seats in the case of the Model X), and then indicate any options you might want. A deposit is made using your credit card, and voila... your car is ordered.
Tesla provides three days to either cancel or make adjustments to your order, after which the order is locked. Then begins the waiting period for your car to be built and delivered. Everyone who has ever ordered a Tesla will tell you that this period of time - regardless of how short it may be - will test anyone's patience. However, Tesla makes this time period fun and informative, as your online account allows you to monitor the status of your car as it gets assigned a VIN, moves through production, awaits transport, and then ships from Fremont, California to your house, your local Tesla store, or a local delivery event. Tesla also makes productive use of this time period by asking purchasers to upload copies of their driver's license and insurance slips to their Tesla online account. This allows Tesla to get the cars outfitted with license plates ahead of delivery. They also share orientation videos as well as the car's owner's manual over the online account, thus allowing purchasers to become acquainted with the operation of their automobile long before it is even delivered. I made good use of this time as well, cleaning up my garage and getting an EV charger installed in preparation for our Tesla's arrival.
In our case, this entire process took only two months from order to delivery, but I'll admit... it felt like a year. Finally, a Tesla delivery specialist informed us that our delivery date was drawing near.
Then came the big day. Our car was scheduled to be delivered as part of a mass delivery event at a local convention centre. Some family friends excitedly picked us up and drove us out to pick up our car. The event was shockingly well organized. We showed up at our designated time, and made ourselves hot drinks in Tesla's comfortable and well-appointed lounge. After only five or ten minutes, we were called in to sign our paper work. Then we were taken around a large wall of curtains into a huge indoor lot full of shiny new Teslas... what a beautiful sight it was.
We were walked to our car and provided a general orientation of the vehicle and its various systems. Of course, all of this takes place indoors because electric cars make absolutely no noise or fumes. After our session, the delivery specialist drove the car outside to the parking lot for us. I noted that the only noise you could hear was the squeaking of the rubber tires against the cement floor whenever the front wheels were turned. That's it. These cars are eerily quiet.
Within only an hour after we had arrived, we were driving off with our brand new car. We were finally Tesla owners. The whole thing seemed unreal.
If there is one thing I can say about Tesla, it is that they absolutely know how to sell and deliver cars. The experience is nothing like the tense cat and mouse game played in traditional car dealerships. With Tesla, the customer and the corporation are united in their mutual desire to do their part for sustainable transportation.
Yes, there was certainly a time when Tesla stores served a critical purpose in exposing the brand to the public and educating potential buyers about the Tesla line of products. However, as Tesla is quickly becoming one of the most popular automobile manufacturers in the world, they really don't need to maintain a large network of stores: especially since all Tesla orders were invariably made online anyway. The stores simply provided sales reps to help walk customers through the process of registering an online account and placing their orders.
Today, the ever-growing community of Tesla owners, the rapidly-expanding network of charging stations and service centres, and the company's website and online ordering platform provides everything the modern car buyer needs to confidently order a Tesla. Add to that the company's 24-hour / 1,000 mile satisfaction guarantee (which is extended to seven days if a buyer never had the opportunity to take a test drive), backed by a full refund, and you quite simply have a suite of advantages with which no other car manufacturer, in my opinion, can compete.
I know Tesla's mission is to "to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport" but, at this rate, it would appear that they are both willing and able to do the entire job themselves.
"The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is approaching 410 parts per million. That has already driven global temperatures nearly 1 ˚C above pre-industrial levels and intensified droughts, wildfires, and other natural disasters. Those dangers will only compound as emissions continue to rise." (Temple, 2019)
How often have you read statements like the one presented above and wondered, "How on Earth could a 1°C increase in temperature cause wildfires?!"
Well, if you have, you're not alone.
Plenty of people think that a mere 1°C of warming sounds pretty nice. After all, a 23°C afternoon is lovely... but a 24°C afternoon is simply glorious!
So what's all the fuss about?
In a nutshell, here's the issue. The warming that climate scientists discuss, debate, and set as targets is presented as an average amount of warming observed over the entire planet across an entire year.
Now... if you've lived long enough, you already know that averages do not occur at average rates. As an example, my hometown of Newmarket, Ontario receives approximately 1.5 cm of rainfall, on average, per day. However, nobody would ever imagine that we literally get 1.5 cm of rain each and every day. No. That rain comes in much larger amounts, spread out sporadically across just a few months of the year. That means that we get quite a bit of rain on some days, but probably no rain at all on most other days of the year. Nonetheless, our structures, streets, creeks, sewers, and drainage systems must all be able to handle our peak amounts of rainfall - not the rather innocuous sounding average amount of rainfall.
It's the same thing with heat. The 1°C mentioned in the quote at the top of this article is not for a moment referring to a daily increase in temperature. It's an average temperature that is spread out across the entire planet, over an entire year. Now, just like rainfall, that average will not present itself at average rates. Rather, that heat will come in waves of peak events, and it's those peak events that do all the damage, like melting glaciers, releasing methane from permafrost, causing droughts, and producing the conditions necessary for forest fires to occur. Unfortunately, all of these things lead to an ongoing feedback loop that drives even more warming... but that's another story.
Right now, let me demonstrate the deceptively dangerous, subtly disarming nature of average temperature increases. As a simple example, I thought I would use an extreme temperature that many people could probably relate to around Thanksgiving time: the temperature required to roast a turkey!
And I'm not going to waste your time talking about some small bird, either... no sirreee, Bob. I'm going to use an example of a 20 lb., fully stuffed turkey!
According to the chart illustrated above, such a turkey would require 8 hours at 325°F (163°C) to be perfectly roasted.
Fair enough. So, just to illustrate my point, let's take that amount of heat and spread it out evenly across an entire year. We can do that by dividing 163°C by 365 days. (You will note that I am using the Celcius temperature scale because that is the scale used in climate science.)
Okee dokes. That gets us approximately 0.45°C per day. However, we don't need 24 hours to cook this bird. Nope. We just need 8 hours, or one third of a day. So then, lets divide the 0.45°C daily temperature by 3 to get us just 8 hours of cooking time. That gives us a temperature of 0.15°C.
So, to bring this example all together:
But it is alarming.
The alarming issue is hidden in that one little pesky fact about averages: averages do not occur at average rates. It's the peak events that do all the damage.
Now, of course, we don't get peak events that are nearly as dramatic as the example that I've outlined above... thank God! If we did, we would have all perished long ago.
To be sure, temperature increases on the planet do not occur over just one day. However, the point remains the same: while our temperature increases do not occur over a single 8 or 24-hour period of time, they do not get spread out evenly amongst all the days of the year, either.
Reality is somewhere in between... but that "somewhere in between" is still a very dangerous predicament. Experiencing an average temperature increase of just 1, 1.5, or 2°C, concentrated within a number of peak events that are spread throughout the entire year will still wreak havoc across the globe. And, as I mentioned before, the even scarier issue is the fact that temperature increases give rise to even further temperature increases.
That is precisely why the recent IPCC Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (IPCC, 2018) suggests that we have just eleven years to get climate change under control.
After that, there will be little chance of regaining any control at all over the roasting oven that we like to call the planet Earth.
Temple, J. (February 27, 2019) One man’s two-decade quest to suck greenhouse gas out of the sky:
Klaus Lackner’s once wacky idea increasingly looks like an essential part of solving climate change.
MIT Technology Review. URL: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612928/one-mans-two-
IPCC, 2018: Global warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C
above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of
strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and
efforts to eradicate poverty [V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, H. O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R.
Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J. B. R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X.
Zhou, M. I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, T. Waterfield (eds.)]. In Press.
A recent support article posted on Tesla.com quietly reads, "After September 16, 2018, full unlimited Supercharging will go away..." The article goes on to state that, as of that date, "owners will be able to give friends one year (underlining added) of unlimited Supercharging."
This development essentially represents the end of an era in terms of Tesla's general marketing strategy - a strategy that has, by most accounts, been incredibly successful for both Tesla and for the promotion of Elon Musk's vision for sustainable transportation. While the free lifetime supercharging incentive has traditionally been provided only to people who purchased a Tesla using an existing Tesla customer's referral code, virtually all Model S and Model X buyers do in fact "use referral codes and therefore... access Supercharger stations for free" (Lambert, 2018).
The Tesla Model 3, with a base price of $35,000.00, was not initially eligible for free lifetime supercharging. This incentive has traditionally been made available only for the more expensive Model S and Model X vehicles. However, the free lifetime supercharging incentive was recently extended to the "performance" version of the Model 3 (Alvarez, 2018). Sadly, as with the Model S and X, this offer is only available until the September 15th deadline.
It is well worth noting that all Tesla vehicles, regardless of incentive eligibility, can charge on the ever-expanding Tesla charger network. However, Tesla's that do not qualify for free lifetime supercharging need to pay a fee. The fee differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction based on electricity rates and energy regulations, but, as a general rule of thumb, the charging fee is approximately half the price of gasoline for the equivalent number of miles driven.
A common question people have regarding the Tesla charging network is how exactly users are billed. People note the simplicity of the charging stations: no attendants, no card readers, no buttons to push. Just an open charging station that easily plugs into a Tesla's charging port. So how does it work? In fact, Tesla chargers recognize each and every Tesla vehicle as soon as it is plugged in. "Supercharging history is automatically populated in your Tesla Account showing the credits used or, if applicable, the amount billed" (Supercharging). It is important to understand that Tesla has repeatedly made it clear that they do not seek to earn a profit from their charging network, stating plainly that, "Tesla is committed to ensuring that Supercharger will never be a profit center" (Supercharging).
Tesla has pulled their free lifetime supercharging incentive before, but then reinstated it soon afterward (Loveday, 2017). Thus, not everybody is completely convinced that the incentive is gone for good. However, many do agree that the free lifetime supercharging incentive could not last forever, and, thus, the incentive may very well be going away for good this time.
While it is sad to see this era come to an end for new Tesla customers, the move does telegraph a shift in the scale of Tesla's sales and success. The company still seems to enjoy unwavering demand for its line of electric vehicles, and Tesla will probably continue to sell their Model S, Model X, and Model 3 vehicles to anxious and exhilarated customers who have come to accept extensive waiting periods before taking delivery of their long-anticipated vehicles. At the end of the day, this paints a picture of a company that simply cannot produce their products fast enough to meet their burgeoning demand, even when producing 7000 vehicles a week (Hanley, 2018). I suppose it would be trite to say that, as corporate problems go, this is a rather nice problem to have.
It's not too late:
In the final analysis, if you have been considering the purchase of a Tesla Model S, Model X, or a Performance Model 3, I would remind you that it is still not too late to get in on the free lifetime supercharging incentive. Until September 15th, you can still use an existing Tesla owner's referral code to lock in this highly compelling incentive.
Status Report on Limited Green Neighbour Incentive
All purchasers using the Green Neighbour referral code will lock in free supercharging for life on the Tesla charging network. In addition, purchasers will win the prize indicated below.
Alvarez, S. (August 1, 2018). Tesla offers Model 3 Performance buyers free unlimited Supercharging in latest referral program update. Teslarati. URL: www.teslarati.com/tesla-model-3-performance-free-unlimited-supercharging-referral-program/
Author Unknown (Accessed August 12, 2018). Referral Program. Tesla.com. URL: https://www.tesla.com/en_CA/support/referral-program
Author Unknown (Accessed August 12, 2018). Supercharging. Tesla.com. URL: https://www.tesla.com/en_CA/support/supercharging
Hanley, S, (July 1, 2018). Tesla Produces 7,000 Cars In 7 Days. CleanTechnica. URL: https://cleantechnica.com/2018/07/01/tesla-produces-7000-cars-in-7-days
Lambert, F. (July 18, 2018). Tesla extends free unlimited Supercharging for Model S and Model X with referral program. Electrek. URL: https://electrek.co/2018/07/16/tesla-free-supercharging-referral-program-extension/
Loveday, Eric. (June 23, 2017) Tesla’s Free Lifetime Supercharging Policy Gets New December 31, 2017 Deadline. Inside EV. URL: https://insideevs.com/teslas-free-lifetime-supercharging-policy-gets-new-december-31-2017-deadline
There is no Planet B: Why Ontarians need to make an informed decision in the upcoming provincial election
As the saying goes, there is no Planet B. This is something that Ontarians have to think long and hard about when deciding how to cast their ballots in the Ontario provincial election on June 7th.
Indeed, Ontarians have some very weighty decisions to make in this particular election, as they will be forced to decide between a government that has been actively committed to reducing carbon emissions (Ontario's Climate Change Action Plan, 2016) and a party that would dismantle Ontario's climate action plan (McKitrick, 2018).
Climate change is not a myth, and it's not some weird conspiracy created by hippies and solar panel manufacturers. Climate change is real, and it's having a very real impact on the planet (Consequences of Climate Change, NASA). Carbon dioxide alone accounts for a 30 percent increase in radiative forcing since 1990 (Climate Change Indicators, US EPA)
I understand that voters are upset by Ontario's growing public debt, and I have already made my own feelings about escalating public debt very clear (see: Understanding Canada's Federal Debt, 2015). While I certainly do not like public debt... at all, I fear that just one term of a conservative government in Ontario would not only pull us off an important carbon emissions track, it could potentially pull our province so far off our emission-reduction targets that we might never recover.
The fact of the matter is carbon pricing is working in Ontario (Grinspun, 2018), and green energy now creates more jobs in the world than oil. Sadly, Canada, one of the most progressive countries in the world, has been missing out on the green energy revolution (Tencer, 2016).
As a case in point, when it comes specifically to the electric power generation workforce, renewable energy now employs far more people in the United States than oil, gas, and coal combined.
Figure 12: Electric Power Generation Employment by Technology, Q2 2015 - Q1 2016, from page 30 of the 2017 US Energy and Jobs Report.
The 2017 Energy and Employment Report produced by the US Department of Energy states that, "Solar technologies, both photovoltaic and concentrating, employ almost 374,000 workers, or 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation workforce. This is followed by fossil fuel generation employment, which accounts for 22 percent of total Electric Power Generation employment and supports 187,117 workers across coal, oil, and natural gas generation technologies" (see: US Energy and Jobs).
Moreover, renewable energy isn't restricted to just those areas of the world that have oil or gas reserves: everyone can take part in this new boon to the world economy (Renewable Energy and Jobs, 2018). In fact, Ontario's educated work force and highly developed manufacturing and transportation infrastructure place it in a prime position to participate in and benefit from the growing renewable energy sector (Getting FIT, 2016).
Given the issues on the table, voting in this election will not only impact today's generations, but many generations to come. If you are going to vote on June 7th, please be sure you make an informed decision.
Climate Change Indicators: Climate Forcing. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-climate-forcing
The consequences of climate change, NASA. Retrieved from https://climate.nasa.gov/effects
Grinspun, D. (2018, April 26). Carbon pricing is working in Ontario, so hands off. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2018/04/26/carbon-pricing-is-working-in-ontario-so-hands-off.html
Lightstone, A. (2015, January 30). Understanding Canada's Federal Debt, 2015. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwUeivsG2M8&feature=youtu.be
Mckittrick, R. (2016, March 28). Doug Ford is about to change climate change policy for the whole country — and it's about time. Retrieved from https://business.financialpost.com/opinion/doug-ford-is-about-to-change-climate-change-policy-for-the-whole-country-and-its-about-time
Ontario’s Five Year Climate Change Action Plan, 2015-2020. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.applications.ene.gov.on.ca/ccap/products/CCAP_ENGLISH.pdf
Tencer, D. (2016, June 13). Renewables Now Employ More People Than Oil, But Canada Is Missing In Action. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/06/13/canada-oil-renewables-energy_n_10441636.html
Recently, Michael Enright, the host of CBC Radio's The Sunday Edition, politely struggled through an interview with Catherine McKenna on the contradiction at the heart of Canada's current energy policy. This contradiction, as Enright points out, is that Canada is committed to reducing our carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement, while we are at the same time expanding Alberta's oil production. Not only that, but we are actually building new pipelines to get that oil to markets in the Pacific.
Here's an excerpt from Enright's introduction to the topic ahead of his interview:
There does seem to be broad consensus in this country that climate change is real, that it's a problem, and that governments should do something about it.
If you're like me, then you are wondering how on Earth the federal government intends to reconcile reducing carbon emissions while expanding its single largest source of these emissions. Naturally, I listened with great interest to Enright's interview with our Environment Minister. I was listening for some sort of technical explanation. Even a cheap, silly explanation may have sufficed. I partly expected McKenna to say something like, "Well... we're just exporting the oil... we won't be the one's actually burning it, so, in the end, at least Canada will meet our targets." To her credit, McKenna did not stoop that low.
However, McKenna's responses to the inherent contradictions within Canada's current actions on climate change still scare the heck out of me, and they should scare the heck out of you, too. Here's why.
McKenna basically had an open mic on our national broadcaster for just over 30 minutes. She had plenty of time to explain the apparent contradictions within the Liberal government's actions on climate change. But, alas... she did not.
Instead, our Minister of the Environment and Climate Change dodged, redirected, pontificated, name-dropped, told stories, passed the buck, and threw around banal platitudes and tired clichés like they were cigarette butts at a Las Vegas smoker's convention.
I was so incensed... so outraged at McKenna's sly and slippery responses to the increasingly direct and pointed questions put to her by Michael Enright that I decided to produce a Malarkey Matrix to analyze McKenna's responses. I categorized the Minister's statements into one of two rows, each under one of two columns. The rows were labelled as either Pro-Oil or Pro-Environment. The columns were classified as either Fact or Malarkey.
It is important to understand that "malarkey" does not mean lies. The standard definition of malarkey is something to the effect of "meaningless talk" or "nonsense." That, my fellow Canadians, is exactly what I feel Catherine McKenna treated CBC listeners to for just over half an hour on the CBC's March 18, 2018 issue of The Sunday Edition.
To help make my point, I have presented the results of my malarkey analysis below.
The statements presented within the above matrix are all direct quotes from Enright's interview with McKenna. Invariably, the choice of quotes and the placement of these quotes within the four quadrants of the matrix are subjective in nature. However, I think I have presented a fair and balanced summary, and I think the summary does a sufficient job of highlighting a profound lack of substance behind the Minister's defence of the federal government's current actions on climate change. It is precisely this lack of substance that should give all Canadians, and, indeed, all citizens of the world, great pause regarding Canada's current course of action on climate change.
My general assessment of McKenna's position on climate change would be that she is attempting to drive a car by looking in the rearview mirror. She is making decisions based on where we have been, as opposed to where we need to go. She points out that most Canadians still drive gas cars, therefore we need to expand our production of oil and gas... expand it!
McKenna points out that transitions make people uncomfortable, but, in truth, it's not the transition that makes me uncomfortable: it's the lack of transition. Specifically, it's the current federal government's clear and unapologetic investment in a carbon-based future. McKenna talks gleefully about a new light rail transit system in Ottawa while glossing over the fact that we are making huge investments to expand Alberta's oil sands operations: Canada's largest and fastest growing contribution to greenhouse gases. I hate to quote Bill Cosby at this particular time in history, but I can't help but think of his famous quote: "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
It seems to me that the federal Liberals are trying to please all the stakeholders in Canada's current oil economy, while at the same time engaging concerned Canadians with a lot of shallow talk about the environment and climate change. The problem with all this, however, is that climate change is real: climate change is not some political shell game that can be exploited for political gain, corporate profits, or photo opps. Climate change is happening. Climate change will not wait.
I have said it before, and I'll say it again. The world cannot wait for governments, NGOs, or private enterprise to address climate change. We must all, as individuals, take decisive and meaningful action on climate change, and we must take this action now. Yes, it would be especially helpful if governments would join the fight, but if they're not willing to, then the people will just have to go this one alone.
People everywhere, please take this to heart: you have more power than any government, organization, or corporation on Earth. Never forget that.
It is the people of the world who depend of this planet, and it is the people of the world who can shape the future of this planet.
So... know this:
Corporations can produce all the oil they want, and governments can even help them do it... but nobody, absolutely nobody, can MAKE US BUY IT!
Thanks for getting in touch with me.
I've looked around at a number of hybrids and full electric cars, and a recent event made me all the more determined to get completely away from anything that burns oil or gas. A spark plug quit on me over the holidays, and it ended up costing me over $400.00 in servicing. For me, that represented the final nail in the coffin of the gas car.
I like the idea of pure electric vehicles because we get to drop so much weight from the car (engine, gas tank, exhaust system, cooling system, alternator, transmission), not to mention the wear, tear, and maintenance associated with all those moving parts.
Knowing that longer-range electric vehicles are coming onto the market in 2018, I don't think it would be prudent to buy a low-range EV at this time, knowing that they will surely depreciate massively once longer-range EVs become available. In fact, this appears to be happening already. (See: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1108058_deal-of-the-year-used-fiat-500e-electric-cars-at-6500)
For this reason, I just put a deposit on a Tesla 3. I know the Tesla 3 won't be available for quite some time, but I've learned that no other comparable cars will be coming out in the near future either. I learned from my local Nissan dealer that the 2017 Leaf is not much different than the 2016 model, and I learned from my local Chevy dealer that all of the Chevy Bolts that will be made available for Canada this year are already spoken for. Thus, I'll have to wait until 2018 anyway, so I might as well wait for the Tesla 3 (where I can at least make a deposit and get my name on a waiting list.)
Maybe this information will help GM gain an insight into the thinking process of a prospective, ready-to-buy consumer. I'd like to buy a new electric car, but with such great offerings coming down the pipe next year, how could I commit myself to anything that isn't at least comparable to these anticipated products?
Thanks again for getting in touch, Daniel. I wish you all the best in 2017.