Living in an urbanizing world, it is not surprising to see the rapid motorization. However, the oil and gas sector and the transportation sector were Canada’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases in 2019, accounting for 52% of total emissions. The evidence is irrefutable and alarming. To mitigate the environmental issues, scientists and experts believe the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) can significantly reduce emissions. Compared to fossil fuel and gasoline vehicles, EVs use batteries instead of gas tanks, and electric motors instead of combustion engines. The Canadian government has also offered EV purchase incentives to show its support. In British Columbia, the Clean Energy Vehicle Program (CEVforBC) provides up to $5,000 in funding for the purchase or lease of EVs.

On February 11th, 2022, The Green Party of Ontario commented that they are hoping to make it more affordable for the residents to drive an EV. “Ontarians are getting gouged at the pump right now,” Mike Schreiner, MPP for Guelph and the leader of the ‘Green party of Ontario’, commented. “And by making it easier to drive electric and getting big oil out of our wallets, we can make life more affordable.”

They are hoping more and more residents switching to EVs, as cars running on gasoline and fossil fuels are not only environmentally destructive but also expensive. Gasoline prices in the Toronto area recently have reached an all-time high above $1.60 a litre. With the advent of COVID-19, the growing oil demand has kept pushing up its price. Natural gas prices are also expected to rise further for some time due to market volatility caused by the Ukraine-Russian conflict.

Gas price in Metro Vancouver on February 14, 2022. Global News.

Ontario Greens’ plan on making driving EVs more affordable and accessible includes:

However, whether the use of EVs is actually better for the environment remains a matter of debate. Dianne Saxe, Ontario Greens Deputy Leader and GPO Candidate for MPP in University-Rosedale, expressed that “By investing in EVs, we will save people money, clean the air, improve health, and crush climate pollution.” However, some professionals see the disposal of EV batteries as another upcoming environmental risk. EV batteries contain heavy metals such as manganese, which take a long time to decompose in nature and can cause severe environmental pollution to air, soil and water. Consequently, it is hard to determine whether EVs should be fully supported to promote our green future.

Global climate change is an urgent challenge facing all countries. The long-term impact on the environment can also be clearly observed today, such as the retreating glaciers, rising sea levels, and increasing global average temperatures. Key issues include lowland areas experiencing more flooding, more frequent wildfires, and ongoing megadroughts in drought-prone regions. In order to alleviate major environmental problems, we must reduce carbon emissions around the world, including in our production and way of living.

As mentioned by Ajay Banga, Mastercard CEO, in a 2013 Ted Talk,  “An advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but rather one where even the rich use public transport. Or bicycles.” In order to build a sustainable healthy city to ease environmental and social problems, investing more money and resources in building a better public transit system is the best option.

Alysha Leung

Alysha is a final year undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she moved to Canada to pursue a BA in International Relations with a minor in Geography (Environment and Sustainability). Alysha has a strong interest in global issues, environmental policies and ESG. In the near future, she would like to pursue a Master's degree in Urban Planning with the aim of creating a sustainable and greener world for future generations.

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