Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
As 2020 comes to an end, the environment team at The Globe sends a warm, virtual thank you for subscribing to our news and sharing our content this year! Our newsletter will be on pause for the holidays but we will see you again in 2021.
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week
- On EV policy, Trudeau’s government has a pitch for Biden, writes Adam Radwanski. Canada would prefer not to go it alone.
- Fish farms on B.C.’s Discovery Islands will be phased out, following consultations in which First Nations raised concerns that wild salmon were at risk.
- A lunar milestone: Canada will send an astronaut around the moon in deal with U.S.
A deeper dive
A policy primer on Canada’s climate plans
Ryan MacDonald is a senior editor at The Globe heading the climate, environment and resources team.
The end of 2020 has brought with it a torrent of activity from the Canadian government on climate change and energy. Some of it will be transformational; much of it is aspirational. There’s a lot to catch up on, so here’s your end-of-year policy briefing.
The release of Canada’s long-awaited climate change plan was quickly followed by commitments on hydrogen and small scale nuclear reactors. Both plans have issues.
Ottawa’s hydrogen strategy, despite government insistence, relies heavily on blue hydrogen – the stuff that is created through the use of natural gas. And while government says the strategy must be self-sustaining, temporary support will be required. That will come in the form of tax credits, subsidies and attracting international investment, it says. It’s clear that the strategy is meant, at least in part, to help transform Canada’s oil and gas industry.
In the same week, Ottawa unveiled a new plan to advance the development of new nuclear reactors, so-called small modular reactors (SMRs). This plan, however, lacked specifics and highlighted the fact that SMRs are in the early stages of development. Where the aspirational bit comes into play is in the government’s jargon around nuclear – how it is essential to meet Canada’s emissions goals and how the country is in a position to lead because of our history with nuclear technology. The key message from government however is regarding jobs. It estimates that by 2040 there will be 6,000 jobs in the SMR sector in Canada.
And there was one final Friday afternoon surprise from government in the form of much-anticipated draft regulations for the Clean Fuel Standard (CFS). The policy – designed to reduce the lifecycle carbon intensity of fossil fuels we use – will be one of the single biggest pieces of the government’s plan to exceed Canada’s Paris Agreement target. Already, the scope of the CFS has narrowed to only include liquid fossil fuels and will no longer cover gas or solid fuels. We will continue to watch it closely.
Worth noting: Some good news from the Globe. As we build on our commitment to covering climate change and the environment, we’re expanding our focus on investing. Jeffrey Jones will report on how and where large investment firms, pension funds and energy companies will deploy tens of billions of dollars in the transition to a low-carbon economy. And David Berman will train his sights on news, ideas and trends in green investing in order to help Globe subscribers navigate this crowded and contested field.
Happy holidays – Ryan
What else you missed
- Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation’s traditional knowledge is at the centre of efforts to protect land and the waters of British Columbia’s Nootka Sound from Bligh Island Shipwreck’s fuel.
- The British Columbia government is setting a new target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 after determining it is further from reaching its goals than previously forecasted.
- The U.S. Federal Reserve said it has joined an international group of central banks working to understand and reduce climate change risk, a signal that the Fed could incorporate global warming into its regulatory writ.
- The incoming Biden administration in the United States will give North America a good shot at beating COVID-19 and fighting climate change, says Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne.
Opinion and analysis
There’s an alternative to the Liberal carbon tax: a Conservative carbon tax
Andrew Coyne: “Carbon pricing, in one form or another, is on the way. Conservatives can either let it roll over them, or get out in front and steer it in a more conservative direction.”
The real cure for COVID is renewing our fractured relationship with the planet
James Maskalyk and Dave Courchene: “If the Earth is as alive as both climate scientists and Indigenous peoples say, and like a body, kept well by a diversity of cells, deeply connected, then the medical diagnosis that fits most neatly our modern sickness is not an infection, but a malignancy.”
Here’s what readers had to say
Readers reacted to Andrew Coyne’s column about carbon pricing. Here’s what some readers had to say:
- Pause Button: “Conservatives have to develop a coherent policy around climate change to be seen as worthy of forming government.”
- WillHop: “Your arguments for using a portion of the revenues to reduce income tax rates once we have rebated the most needy are also well founded. This was a strategy adopted by BC and near as I can tell the price on carbon here has been effective and not harmful to the economy.”
- Bob Adamson: “Yes, a conservative government can craft an innovative, effective revenue neutral carbon tax program, creating a framework within its jurisdiction for the free market to speed the transition to a sustainable environment in ways that don’t upend the resource extraction sectors of the economy.”
Each week The Globe will profile a young person making a difference in Canada. This week we’re highlighting the work of Corrina Serda doing climate based presentation and mentorship.
Hi, I’m Corrina Serda and I’m a 24-year-old Mexican-heritage communications professional living in Neyaashiinigmiing with my Anishnaabe partner Darcy and son Creegan. At the age of 4, I started attending environmental group meetings with my mom Victoria, and grew up with a strong understanding of how important it was to work toward having a healthy environment for future generations.
When my mother was trained by Former Vice President Al Gore in 2007, I wanted to be trained as well. I settled with giving a solutions presentation after my mom presented the scientific slides. We travelled across Ontario giving more than 90 presentations in the first year to over 25,000 people, including schools, local governments and churches.
In April of 2008 I became the youngest person Mr. Gore trained to give his slideshow at the age of 11. Since then, I have been an active member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps., presenting and mentoring throughout the years. Currently, I work doing communications at the Saugeen Ojibway Nation Environment Office, and together with my toddler, love going for walks in the forest, and petting my rabbits Babs and Roger.
Do you know an engaged young person? Someone who represents the real engines pursuing change in the country? Email us at GlobeClimate@globeandmail.com to tell us about them.
Photo of the week
Guides and Explainers
- We’ve rounded up our reporters’ content to help you learn about sustainable ways to live life at home, travel, invest, and generally to learn about our species at risk.
- If you like to read, here are books to help the environmentalist in you grow, as well as a downloadable e-book of Micro skills - Little Steps to Big Change.
Catch up on Globe Climate
- The federal climate plan is belated, bold and brash all at the same time
- Five years later, the Paris Agreement is not aging well
- Climate change merits a fiscal response, too
- Ottawa creates legally binding climate targets. Sort of