Skip to main content
globe climate newsletter

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.

What do we lose when we lose winter? Ian Brown explored that idea this week. The Globe feature writer argues that the changing climate is not just altering what we can do, but who we can be.

“Being denied the enormous privilege of back-country skiing in the mountains is an irrelevance next to the climate-induced tragedies that less fortunate people are already suffering,” he writes. “The day will come (not soon, I hope) when I can’t physically manage skiing any more, and that will be the sharp but thrilling price of having lived, of getting older. But to lose the season altogether feels cataclysmic.”

The disappearance of winter, he says, reveals how much we’ve come to love it.

Now, let’s catch you up on other news.

Open this photo in gallery:

Illustration by Mary Kirkpatrick

Noteworthy reporting this week:

  1. Carbon pricing: Liberal Premier joins Conservative calls to stop carbon price hike; ‘My job is not to be popular,’ Trudeau says after pressed to ditch the hike; the PM also accuses N.L. Premier of ‘bowing to political pressure’ in carbon pricing spat
  2. Flood protection: B.C. community’s flood recovery plan stalls over lack of funding
  3. Research: Batteries, genomes and climate satellites to share in $515-million for Canadian labs
  4. Oil and gas: Nisga’a Nation and Western LNG buying TC Energy’s plans for natural gas pipeline in B.C.
  5. Agriculture: Young, skilled and ready to innovate, Black farmers are taking on Canada’s agricultural challenges
  6. From The Narwhal: Koch Industries’ US$30-million carbon pricing lawsuit against Canada dismissed by international court

A deeper dive

Alberta’s drinking game

Matthew McClearn is an investigative reporter and data journalist with The Globe and Mail. For this week’s deeper dive, he talks about a joint story written with energy reporter Emma Graney about Alberta’s drought.

The manner in which water is allocated for use throughout western North America is elegantly simple. Known as “first-in-time, first-in-right” (FITFIR for short) or “prior appropriation,” it relieves government of the obligation to determine whose need for water is most pressing. Is it municipalities and First Nations? Or should important and influential industries such as agriculture, or oil and gas, be first in line? With FITFIR, the answers to such questions are dictated by a priority number on a water licence: Holders of older licences are entitled to get their full allotment before the next in line get a drop.

The problem, of course, is that the West periodically suffers drought – as Alberta is experiencing now. When that happens, enforcing FITFIR could lead to perverse outcomes. Crops might be watered, for instance, while the homes of the people harvesting them do without. Important employers could be forced to shut down. For holders of junior licences – which include towns and First Nations reserves – the consequences of receiving no water whatsoever could be dire.

Yet during previous droughts in Alberta, FITFIR has amounted to a curious sort of fiction: Senior water licence holders have not insisted on enforcing their legal rights. Rather, major users such as irrigation districts voluntarily negotiated temporary reductions in their water allocations to ensure enough was left for others. And that’s what Alberta’s government is attempting again this year as it prepares for expected water shortages: It has convened large water users located in parched river basins to find an ad hoc solution.

Water experts say senior licence holders have done this enough times already that they’re unlikely to take a hard-nosed approach. But if altruism isn’t enough, other motivations – economic, political and practical – are also at play. Under the province’s Water Act, the government can declare a state of emergency and step in.

Rebecca Schulz, Alberta’s Environment Minister, said that she doesn’t want hers to be the first government to do that, and that this year’s negotiations are going well. But she offered a glimpse of how she might make decisions if a community couldn’t access water: “Typically we would prioritize things like human health and safety and animal health and safety.”

Ms. Schulz said details about this year’s water-sharing agreements should be released early next month.

Read the full story today

- Matt

Open this photo in gallery:

This winter, the Oldman River Reservoir near Pincher Creek, Alta., hit its lowest levels in 30 years, worrying farmers and the city of Lethbridge, which draws drinking water from it. Across Alberta, the province and licence holders are negotiating how best to share what water is left.Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

What else you missed

Opinion and analysis

Trevor Melanson and Mark Zacharias: On the carbon tax, Justin Trudeau’s job is indeed to be popular

Michael Sambasivam: Is private-equity giant Brookfield’s new green fund really so green?

Mark Carney: We all deserve affordable homes and a stable climate – and that is achievable

Marcus Gee: The discovery of an eagles’ nest in Toronto suggests cities are no longer nature’s enemy

Green Investing

Canada sustainability standard-setters embrace strong international reporting rules

The group charged with developing Canada’s rules for how companies will disclose sustainability risks has fully embraced new international standards – in contrast with the United States, where the national securities regulator scaled back its proposals in the face of opposition earlier this month.

The Canadian Sustainability Standards Board’s decision to adopt the International Sustainability Standards means that companies will likely need to do a full range of disclosures, including tallying all of their emissions. This includes what are called Scope 3 emissions – those that stem from companies’ value chains and from the end use of their products.

Making waves

Thousands of dollars go unclaimed every year in financial aid because of students not knowing about it. Bluebird Environmental compiled all the external environmental scholarships and bursaries available in Ontario. Check them out, and share them with someone who may be able to benefit.

Do you know an engaged individual? Someone who represents the real engines pursuing change in the country? Email us at to tell us about them.

Photo of the week

Open this photo in gallery:

Men from the Niger island of Néni Goungou cast their nets while fishing on the Niger River on Feb. 27, 2024. At 4,200 kilometres long, the river supports more than 100 million residents of Africa's Sahel region. Its first beneficiaries are the Sorkos, or "men of the water." Fishermen, canoeists and occasional rescuers, they have drawn their livelihood from the Niger for centuries. But from the 1980s, the river began to silt up, to the point that it is now possible to cross it on foot in several places during low water periods, mainly from March to May. This phenomenon is disrupting the way of life of the Sorkos, and forcing them to turn away from an ancestral activity.BOUREIMA HAMA/Getty Images

Guides and Explainers

Catch up on Globe Climate

We want to hear from you. Email us: Do you know someone who needs this newsletter? Send them to our Newsletters page.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe