MATTHEW MCCARVILLE: Emissions-free by 2050

Goal of 80 per cent reductions by 2030, P.E.I.’s energy and climate mitigation strategy

Published on February 24, 2017

About a year ago, I was invited to testify before the Legislative Assembly of P.E.I.’s Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy. On May 10, 2016, our Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy provided its first recommendation to Legislature:

“1. Your committee recommends that P.E.I.’s new energy strategy include an overarching goal of transitioning to 100 per cent use of renewable wind, solar, and water power for all purposes by 2050 at the latest.

 Researchers at universities such as Stanford and the University of California have produced roadmaps to demonstrate how the 50 U.S. states and over 100 countries, including Canada, can transition to 100 per cent renewable energy by the middle of the century. This includes energy for all purposes; once 100 per cent renewable energy is achieved for electrical generation, it will become easier to meet the same goal in transportation, heating/cooling, industry, agriculture and natural resource use. It is a scientifically attainable goal. The challenges are not so much technological or economic as they are political and social.

 Testimony by multiple witnesses before your committee demonstrated that renewable energy technologies are rapidly overcoming barriers to use and integration. Broad conversion to renewable energy will have a net economic benefit in terms of job creation and growth. Instead, the challenging part of reaching such a goal lies in committing politically and socially to an aggressive course of action to move our energy production away from combustion and toward wind, solar and water across the board.

Here on P.E.I. we have made a good start with on-shore wind energy. It is time to ramp up exploration of our other renewable options, such as greater solar infrastructure, off-shore wind energy, and tidal energy. We also need to transition to a smarter electrical grid system in which renewable energy generation occurs in a distributed network across the Island. The expertise exists on PEI to make this happen, both in the private sector and at our post-secondary institutions.

The City of Summerside provides an excellent example of a government and utility working together to increase renewable energy integration in multiple areas of energy consumption. A new energy strategy is in development for the province and there is no reason not to commit to the ambitious but necessary goal of 100 per cent renewable energy. Your committee calls on government, Maritime Electric and all Islanders to make that commitment.

We could get started and accelerate the transition with 100 per cent by 2050 legislation this spring, that enables not just half measures but rather a substantial conversion by 2030. The best science shows us the world in fact requires – 80 per cent conversion in all energy sectors, and such emission reductions by 2030; with 100 per cent by 2050, to have any reasonable chance of avoiding 1.5˚C of global warming relative to 1870; a goal the whole world of nations has recognized is needed in the COP 21 Paris Agreement, has been ratified, and has come into force as of October, 2016.

As Islanders, many of us are ready for 100 per cent clean energy. Some have already electrified their entire homes and vehicles, etc., and are ≥100% solar powered; giving free power away to their neighbors and it’s still saving them money. I could provide names of well over 100 Islanders, probably well over 1,000, whom I have spoken with personally in recent years who are definitely ready for 100 per cent clean renewable energy for all. 25,000 Canadians recently marched and rallied on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for this goal of 100 per cent by 2050. Thousands more joined them across the nation including well over 100 people on P.E.I., plus over 45,000 Canadians have signed onto a call for this. Luckily, political will is a renewable resource and we can proceed as necessary, since it’s the only moral choice we have, with the practical implementation of such a roadmap.

It’s already 1.2˚C warmer than the 1901-1930 average global temperature, solely human-caused, as proven in the comparison of the GATOR-GCMOM model to NASA GISS data included in this article.

For the love of humankind, let’s protect our land.

- Matthew McCarville is founder of McCarville Research. In January 2013, he and 50 Islanders co-founded a group called, “Don’t Frack P.E.I.: Wind Water Sun – Energy For the Long-Run.” He helps administer a Facebook group with 330 members, “Renewable Energy P.E.I.,” working collectively to share stories and solutions that accelerate the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy on P.E.I. ;