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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.

Canmore, Alta., is one of Canada’s fastest growing communities. But when human populations increase in the same space as wildlife, the risks are twofold. Bordering Banff, the country’s first national park, the community houses a crucial wildlife corridor of rare quality. Grizzly bears, black bears, elk, cougars and wolves all depend on it to keep them connected with different parts of the Bow Valley and beyond.

Ahead of Earth Day this Thursday, we aim to answer a big question. Can large numbers of humans and wildlife coexist, and, if so, how?

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

A overall view of Canmore, AB taken April 5, 2018.Chris Bolin/For The Globe and Mail


Noteworthy reporting this week:

  1. Emissions: Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by about 9 per cent during the first year of the pandemic, largely owing to a decline in travel amid mandated lockdowns.
  2. Energy: Canada’s oil and gas industry will lose public support if it doesn’t hit net zero by 2050, says the CEO MEG Energy, one of the country’s largest oil sands producers.
  3. Wildlife: Invasive earthworms pose risk to Albertan forest’s bug population, feeding Canada’s biodiversity crisis. Just ask the other bugs.
  4. Wine: In B.C., Blue Mountain faces a vintage gone up in smoke. In Europe, severe spring frost threatens wine growers for a second year.
  5. In-depth with The Narwhal: Are we living in the Anthropocene? This Ontario lake could help global geologists decide.

A deeper dive

ESG ratings may be giving investors a false sense of sustainability

Sierra Bein is the author of Globe Climate newsletter. For this week’s deeper dive, she brings you the highlights of The Globe’s recent ESG ratings investigation.

The world of green investing is not new to The Globe.

At the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow “net-zero” and “greenwashing” were two big buzzwords as companies and funds got tickets to ride the environmental, social and governance (ESG) express. It was easy to game the ESG system because no one knew precisely what ESG meant.

And we’ve reported on the equally difficult challenge that came to financial advisers to find greenwashing in investments for their clients.

At the same time, there is growing pressure on directors to speak knowledgeably on climate, in addition to the other ESG metrics that The Globe and Mail has now tracked for 20 years in its annual Board Games ranking of Canadian companies.

Now, as investors around the world are ploughing tens of billions of dollars a year into companies and funds that tout high ESG standards there is growing concern that treating them as an asset class alongside traditional stocks and bonds risks shifting the focus away from the non-financial values it’s meant to promote.

A Globe and Mail investigation shows the methods these ratings providers use vary to the point where the same company can be judged as both an ESG leader and a laggard, depending on who’s doing the measuring. It’s sowing skepticism not just among investors but among some of the companies being scored, too.

Sustainable investing reporter Jeffrey Jones and Institutional investment reporter David Milstead reviewed the ranges of companies’ ratings and assigned them roughly into higher, middle and lower tiers. They then identified companies that had divergent ratings across providers. The review showed wide variances in scores for some companies. Three of the companies The Globe found to have among the widest divergences in Canadian ESG ratings – Toromont Industries, Ritchie Brothers and FirstService Corp. – are in the ESG Leaders ETF.

This doesn’t mean fund managers are breaking rules, but it puts the onus on investors to familiarize themselves with the criteria of the funds they buy and what the objectives are.

“The real problem at the moment is not necessarily ESG ratings. I think the much bigger problem is the promise that if you buy a fund based on ESG ratings, you have an impact – you change the world,” says Florian Berg, one of the authors of the Aggregate Confusion Project. “There’s no proof.”

Read the full investigation today. And as always, you can learn more about green investing (and greenwashing) with our newsletter: Green Investing 101, for the climate-conscious investor.

- Sierra

The Globe’s investigation of ESG ratings showed a wide divergence among some Canadian companies. The Globe compared ESG ratings of companies in the S&P/TSX composite index from six different provid- ers and roughly assigned them into higher (green), middle (yellow) and lower (red) tiers.The Globe and Mail


What else you missed


Opinion and analysis

Members of the Lower Fraser River Working Group: Restoring Sumas Lake is an important step in B.C. flood recovery, climate adaptation and reconciliation

Grant Bishop: Beyond just carbon pricing, the federal budget will help accelerate Canada’s energy transition


Green Investing

Canadian bank investors resoundingly reject push for ‘say-on-climate’ votes

The country’s five largest lenders all held their annual general meetings over the past two weeks, and this year there was a concerted push from activists, particularly from Mouvement d’éducation et de défense des actionnaires, known as Médac, to require them to hold regular advisory votes on environmental policy and targets.

The climate votes would be similar to annual say-on-pay votes that many large corporations now routinely hold, giving investors an opportunity to publicly voice any displeasure with executive compensation. However, the say-on-climate proposals need the support of a majority of shareholders who vote at each bank’s meeting, and on average, about 80 per cent of each bank’s shareholders rejected them this year, including at TD’s meeting on Thursday.


Making waves

Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Sarah Landstreet doing sustainable packaging.

Sarah Landstreet founder and CEO of Georgette Packaging poses in her Kitchener office on August 30, 2017. The tech-inspired company designs and sells branded packaging for bakeries around the world.Glenn Lowson/For The Globe and Mail

Sarah Landstreet’s resumé is full of twists and turns: mechanical engineer, cupcake shop owner, Ivey Business School student and, finally, sustainable packager. “I like solving unsexy problems,” she says, and shipping cupcakes revealed “a very opaque, old-school industry” desperate for modernization. “Consumers are demanding better branded packaging that looks great and isn’t destroying the planet.” For them, Landstreet created knowyourpackaging.com, where users can track exactly where that coffee cup came from and where it’s going. Her company, Georgette Packaging, also designs sustainable packaging with the lowest possible impact on the planet and uses carbon offsets to cover the rest.

Landstreet was included in The Globe’s 50 emerging leaders list, of those who are reinventing how Canada does business. Read more about her in ROB Magazine here.

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

The tents of people displaced by drought are seen at the Higlo camp for the internally-displaced in the Shabelle Zone of the Somali region of Ethiopia Monday, April 11, 2022. Agricultural workers in the east and Horn of Africa are preparing for their most severe drought in forty years, as authorities warn that higher temperatures and less than normal rainfall were recorded by weather agencies in March and April this year.Zerihun Sewunet/The Associated Press


Guides and Explainers


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