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Low-carbon adventure: David Suzuki journeys across Canada in electric vehicle

Suzuki, his wife Tara Cullis, and a film crew made a pit-stop in Revelstoke on May 27

Although it was just a pit stop on a cross-Canada trip, as David Suzuki walked through Grizzly Plaza on a clear spring evening, he said Revelstoke held a special place in his heart.

Suzuki, his wife Tara Cullis and a film crew are on a low-carbon adventure from Vancouver to Toronto, stopping in communities along the way to recharge, explore Canada’s history and find out what more is needed to make this nation a carbon-neutral country.

During his long career as host of The Nature of Things, one of the most successful series in the history of Canadian television, Suzuki flew all over Canada and abroad. Now, knowing the impacts air travel has on the environment, he has chosen to quit flying if possible, and hasn’t taken to the skies in three years.

When he was prompted to travel to Toronto for the premiere of his first feature film, What You Won’t Do For Love, Suzuki seized the opportunity to embark on the journey in an electric vehicle and document it.

“We have to electrify,” said Suzuki. “We’re gonna find out how hard it is.”

In May, the David Suzuki Foundation alongside Clean Power Pathways released a report detailing a transition to a zero-emission future in Canada by 2035.

This report is the product of more than four years of work which frames a transition to clean electricity by focusing investment in grid-connected renewables, energy storage and transmission. It says that expanding wind and solar electricity should be the foundation to achieving 100 per cent zero emissions across the country, an affordable way to meet climate targets and the growing demand for electricity.

According to the report, the labour requirement for this transition is significant and could result in the creation of more than 1.5 million job-years between 2025 and 2050.

“We have a climate emergency,” exclaimed Suzuki. “Infrastructure for clean energy has to be a major commitment.”

Emissions reduction pathway from the IEA’s “Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for theGlobal Energy Sector”. (David Suzuki Foundation)

Suzuki spoke of the affordability electric cars offer for individuals, especially as gas prices continue to soar. As of June 1, regular gas prices in Revelstoke are as high as 215.9¢ per litre. In most of B.C., public charging stations are free to use, and fast-charging stations cost between 0.21¢ and 0.57¢ per minute to use.

He added that people need to change the way they look at vehicles, saying that everybody owning a car is not sustainable or necessary. Ridesharing, public transport, biking and walking can help save space in the community and make it cleaner and more livable according to Suzuki.

When asked if it was affordable for federal governments to build the infrastructure to make Canada-wide reliable electric charging a reality, Suzuki said “We can’t afford not to do it.”

Suzuki said that smaller communities, like Revelstoke, have a huge advantage over the cities in the province when it comes to enacting change towards a more sustainable future.

“The small community is the heart of the solution,” said Suzuki.

He added that residents of smaller communities feel a closer connection to nature and what it has to offer and care more about where they live. Governments on a larger scale are driven by political priorities and only have perspective in the time frame between each election according to Suzuki.

He advises local councils to bring in Indigenous elders for their generational perspective on combating climate change.

“You need the best elders to guide you, and those elders are Indigenous people,” said Suzuki.

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