If you’re reading this on the web or someone forwarded this e-mail newsletter to you, you can sign up for Globe Climate and all Globe newsletters here.
Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
The Canadian Journalism Foundation announced its short list for the annual CJF Award for Climate Solutions Reporting and The Globe received two nominations!
Ryan MacDonald, Kathryn Blaze Baum, Jeffrey Jones and Adam Radwanski, for their stories on how to reengineer the Canadian economy to adapt to and capitalize on climate change. And Joel Balsam and photojournalist Stephanie Foden for their reporting on an Innu band council and regional municipality’s attempt to declare Quebec’s Magpie River a legal person.
Separately, the Covering Climate Now awards, has shortlisted The Globe’s coverage of British Columbia’s cascade of climate-related disasters in its daily coverage category. There were 900 entries for the awards, submitted from 65 countries. The climate team’s work on extreme heat in Canada was also highlighted in UNESCO’s #readthesources global awareness campaign.
Read more here. Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- Conservation: In an Earth Day announcement, the Nature Conservancy of Canada appeals to Canadians to help buy Ontario woodland twice the size of Toronto to turn it into the country’s largest privately protected natural space.
- From arts and life: Sustainable fashion has a plastic packaging problem. Margaret Atwood gets into the weeds with Jennifer Baichwal. And lastly, how does one take part in forest bathing?
- Energy: FortisBC plans two pipelines in Squamish, B.C. as global demand for energy grows from sources other than Russia. In Norway, Greenpeace blocks a tanker from delivering Russian oil.
- For future: University of Montreal announces $159-million gift for research into sustainable car batteries.
- Nature: Edmonton looks to use dragonflies, bats, and other natural methods to control mosquitos. Also, Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi will push ahead with a planned national urban park.
- From The Narwhal: How pollution from Canadian coal mines threatens the fish at the heart of communities from B.C. to Idaho
A deeper dive
From floods in South Africa to drought in Somalia
Geoffrey York is is The Globe and Mail’s Africa bureau chief, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. For this week’s deeper dive, he talks about what he has seen and learned about climate change while reporting from that continent.
When you imagine African skies, you probably think of clean air and sunshine. In my 13 years in Johannesburg, I’ve certainly seen plenty of sunshine, but what is that foul smell of sulphur that sometimes oddly creeps into the air? The explanation tells a story about climate politics in the Global South.
When the wind blows into Johannesburg from the east, it can bring the odour of sulphur from the coal-fired power plants and coal-based industries of nearby Mpumalanga province. It’s an unpleasant reminder that South Africa is still – remarkably – one of the most carbon-intensive countries in the world.
By now, Africa’s vulnerability to climate change is well-documented. It is visible in the deadly droughts and famines that are becoming more frequent in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region of West Africa. It is visible, too, in South Africa, where Cape Town narrowly escaped a “Day Zero” for its water supply in 2018, and where devastating floods from extreme rainfall have killed hundreds of people this month. So why is South Africa still contributing to climate change by remaining so dependent on coal?
South Africa, by most measures, is one of the world’s 15 biggest producers of carbon emissions. It was recently ranked as the most carbon-intensive economy among the G20 countries. Its natural sunshine should make it ideal for solar power, yet its government has stalled the much-needed transition to renewable energy.
The reasons are ultimately the same as in Canada and other countries in the Global North: politics and the lobbying power of certain industries. South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, has close links to coal-mining unions and coal-transport companies. Powerful interests within the ANC, reluctant to disrupt the traditional flows of revenue to these influential groups, are actively hostile to solar and wind energy.
The lesson in South Africa is the same as in other countries: The response to climate change can hinge as much on politics as it does on technocratic solutions.
Africa is more vulnerable to climate change than anywhere else in the world, and the damage is escalating as extreme weather becomes more common. Read his most recent reporting on climate change across the continent, from floods in South Africa to drought in Somalia.
What else you missed
- Canadians can make significant health gains by reducing traffic-related air pollution, report says
- B.C. man says old-growth protests will escalate after brief hospitalization amid hunger strike
- Britain moves ahead with mandatory climate plans for companies
- Extreme heat should be considered a natural disaster, a new report says
- Cherry farmers worried by unseasonably cold temperatures in B.C.
- Canada’s climate targets set high hurdle for Suncor oil sands mine extension
- European Commission assessing higher 45% renewable energy target for 2030
- B.C. conservation group moves thousands of salmon that will produce millions of eggs
Opinion and analysis
Jeffrey Jones: The climate fight is getting harder. Can Mark Carney keep his green finance push on track?
Andrew McLaughlin: Crowded ESG ratings landscape sows confusion for investors
Konrad Yakabuski: Canada’s big banks have big role to play in ‘greening’ the oil and gas sector
Irv Handler: When squirrels moved in, my love for all nature moved out
Jennifer Knoch: My bee garden is pretty incredible and so important
Canada’s largest federal employee pension plan doesn’t aim for net zero in new climate strategy
The Public Sector Pension Investment Board released a climate-action strategy that stops short of a “net zero” commitment. It’s a departure from other major Canadian pension plans that have made a public commitment to get their portfolios to no negative climate impact by 2050.
Instead, the pension manager, with more than $200-billion in assets, says it believes that sometimes, the best thing to do is to take on carbon-intensive investments and get the companies to reduce their environmental impact – even if that means their environmental metrics get worse in the short term.
Meanwhile the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is tripling its commitment to tech investing with a focus on addressing climate issues.
- Bitcoin’s new puzzle: How to ditch fossil fuels and go green
- Warren Buffett faces renewed climate change challenge by investors
- Demand for sustainable bonds is set to surge as more supply hits market
Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Jo-Anne McArthur doing animal photojournalism.
Hi, I’m Jo-Anne McArthur, president and founder of We Animals Media, an animal photojournalism agency and Canadian non-profit. Over 20 years, my career as an animal photojournalist has brought me to some dark places people never see: inside industrial farms, fur farms, animal breeding facilities, slaughterhouses and transport trucks.
Not only is animal agriculture a leading cause of emissions, water use and deforestation, but like us, animals are victims of climate change catastrophes. In 2020 I flew to Australia to document the bushfires that killed or displaced more than three billion animals. Maybe you’ve seen my photo of a kangaroo and her joey, now emblematic of these fires’ effects. Last year, our teams also documented wildfires and floods in B.C. Our mission is to bring visibility to all these animals in the hopes of encouraging conversation and change. Our most recent photography book, HIDDEN: Animals in the Anthropocene, featuring the work of 40 international photojournalists, is an award-winning indictment of our current relationship with animals. We also have thousands of visuals available on our stock platform, to help further the conversation. But what can we do? Eat fewer animals, support legislative change and be cleaner consumers. We can make compassionate decisions each day.
Do you know an engaged individual? 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
- Want to learn to invest sustainably? We have a class for that: Green Investing 101 newsletter course for the climate-conscious investor. Not sure you need help? Take our quiz to challenge your knowledge.
- We've rounded up our reporters' content to help you learn about what a carbon tax is, what happened at COP 26, and just generally how Canada will change because of climate change.
- We have ways to make your travelling more sustainable and 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
- An investigation into the murky world of ESG ratings
- To stop allergy season from getting worse, mitigate climate change