Your next boat trip could be quiet, electric, and emission-free

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This is The Climate Win, the most positive sustainability news around the world every week.

Going green on your next boating excursion just got a lot easier. Vision Marine Technologies, a Montreal-based boat company and a pioneer of electric boats, is on a mission to green the world’s waterways with a line of electric boats available for commercial and private purposes.

This month, the company also launched its most advanced electric motor to date. The E-Motion 180E can be installed in a variety of boats even beyond the company’s line, ranging from speedboats and light touring boats to pontoons and fishing boats.

The company’s mission is to educate and inform the public on the rise of electric boating, and according to co-founder Alex Monseon, “It’s already happening.” By pioneering the first fully-electric outboard motor and battery pack, Vision Marine hopes to become the Tesla of boats. This is welcome news in the travel industry as boating has tended to fly under the radar even with the growth in electric cars and trucks.

For private operations like fishing trips and day tours, travelers can now rent the company’s electric boats across the United States including in Hawaii, and in the United Kingdom, Australia, Bermuda, and Portugal.

“We want pontoon buyers and fishing boat buyers to actually buy a fully electric outboard,” Monsoon said, referring to the E-Motion 180E. Tourism bureaus and municipalities including Tourism Quebec and the city of Montreal, where the company is based, have adopted Vision Marine’s eco-friendly boats for commercial operations.

As Vision Marine looks to expand its electric motor into tourist-heavy cities around the world, Mongeon noted that travelers can check the company website to find updated releases of where to try an electric boat. You can also head to GetMyBoat.com to peruse rentals of electric boats available in places you will be traveling, and get one reserved for your needs.

If you do choose to rent one of Vision Marine’s boats, you’ll be able to cruise all day, charge overnight, and hit the water again in the morning. Some of the company’s boats have 16 hours of non-stop range and charge at a rate of about one hour per hour of use. A conventional outlet is all you need to charge. “It’s like a Christmas tree,” Monseon says. “The chargers are in the boats, so you can just plug it in and you don’t need to find a separate charging station.”

The coolest thing about Vision Marine for travelers is that while fleets of Tesla-driving Ubers are a pipe dream, there’s actually a strong possibility you’ll ride in a Vision Marine boat — or at least one powered by its motor — even if you don’t actually rent it yourself, if you visit a water destination in the coming years. Venice, Italy, began enacting restrictions on motorboats in its famous and busy waterways nearly a decade ago, with laws tightening as recently as 2019 to crack down on pollution — and electric boats are largely exempt from those restrictions.

Some local groups hope to see all boats in the city be either electric or man-powered by 2028. Amsterdam enacted similar legislation in 2019, with diesel boats to be phased out by 2025. Already, many boat operators in the city are turning to electric rigs. Reuters reported last year.

Add to that the benefits of electric boats to wildlife, for which the noise and pollution of combustion engines has long been a problem — and there’s another plus. Just this month, Iceland offered its first whale watching tour on an electric boat, and according to The Guardian it was a success for both the whales and the watchers.

More climate wins

Speaking of boats, an actor who helped bring to life a love story from aboard a famously doomed one just made a major financial contribution to rewilding efforts. Leonardo DiCaprio announced a commitment of $43 million in funding toward a rewilding effort on the Galapagos Islands to provide habitat for 13 locally extinct species, including Floreana mockingbird, giant tortoise, and pink iguana, Lonely Planet reported. The funding includes the launching of a conservation initiative called Re:wild, of which DiCaprio is a founding member.

A United Nations report released this week noted that 1/6th of global land and freshwater habitat is now protected. This is a massive mark on the way to protecting 30 percent of the earth by 2030, though there’s still a long way to go — and once protected, land (or water) must be properly managed.

A new tool will help scientists know in near-real time when coral reefs exposed to heat stress begin the bleach, The Guardian reported this week. This could help scientists react more quickly to the stressed coral, and help to determine when and where coral is thriving. This is much-needed information, as the report cites a UN climate assessment which found that global coral reef could decline by 70 to 90 percent due to climate change.