Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
This past week, United Nations experts have said that land degradation, wildlife exploitation, intensive farming and climate change are all contributing factors to the rise in diseases like COVID-19 that are passed to humans from animals
When you look at the fact that 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, this is more concerning. In the last two decades alone, zoonotic diseases have caused economic losses of more than $100-billion worldwide.
The UN identified a few areas that drive the risk: demand for animal protein, extraction of natural resources and urbanization, intensive and unsustainable farming, exploitation of wildlife, increased travel, and climate change. The organization is calling on governments for change.
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- Countries around the world are setting the stage or pushing forward with ambitious green-recovery plans. In his column, Adam Radwanski said the Canadian government — which entered the pandemic with clean-economy transition at the heart of its mandate — is unusually reticent about how it will capitalize on the biggest economic disruption since the Great Depression to advance that agenda.
- New research shows that as summer sea ice disappears in Canada’s Arctic due to climate change, massive swells are expected in the coming years with potentially dire consequences for coastal communities and shipping traffic. Ivan Semeniuk found that the average height of the highest waves seen on the ocean could increase by nearly two storeys, or six metres.
- A survey completed for the non-profit organization Indigenous Clean Energy, based on its database of projects, says Indigenous communities and enterprises represent the biggest single owner of clean energy assets apart from Crown and private utilities. A larger number of projects are coming online, it adds. Kristy Kirkup reports.
- Canada’s natural gas sector wants federal and provincial governments and industry to form an alliance as Ottawa develops a national hydrogen strategy, saying co-operation is vital to harness the full economic potential of the energy source. Emma Graney has the story.
A deeper dive
B.C.‘s Indigenous power producers fear they’ll be short-circuited by Clean Energy Act changes
Brent Jang is a reporter in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau and a member of The Globe’s environment team. For this week’s deeper dive, he talks about Indigenous electricity producers facing a reduced role in British Columbia.
British Columbia’s electricity industry is in turmoil as the provincial government seeks to protect BC Hydro, sending a wave of worry through independent power companies and Indigenous groups.
British Columbia is blessed with hydroelectricity, generated mostly by a provincial Crown corporation, BC Hydro. But independent power producers (IPPs), which include Indigenous groups, have been growing.
Among IPPs in the province, at least two-thirds have active Indigenous participation, including owners or co-owners of clean-energy projects.
A report titled Zapped, released last year by B.C.‘s NDP minority government, concludes that BC Hydro has long paid inflated prices for electricity from IPPs — an assertion challenged by Clean Energy BC, which represents IPPs.
The report set the stage for the introduction last month of an amendment, Bill 17, to the province’s Clean Energy Act of 2010. Bill 17 has unnerved IPPs, including the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation on Vancouver Island.
Saya Masso, tribal administrator for the Tla-o-qui-aht, said the shakeup will result in BC Hydro importing more electricity from the United States. That would have widespread implications for Indigenous groups keen on clean energy, reducing the role of First Nations when they should be building more plants that produce renewable electricity within B.C., Mr. Masso said.
What else you missed
Project documents high-altitude shifts in the Rocky Mountains: It’s one of the first large-scale papers to come from the Mountain Legacy Project, a decades-long effort to build on the work of Canada’s early surveyors and geographers.
Fishing lodge set to reopen despite objections from Haida Nation in B.C.: Duffy Edgars, chief councillor of Old Massett Village, said in a Facebook post on Saturday that Indigenous leaders tried to inform several fishing lodges about the continuing ban on non-resident and leisure travel on Haida Gwaii.
Scientists surprised at Fort McMurray wildfire’s lasting impact on rivers: Every time it rained, they were able to detect significant increases in ash, potassium, nitrogen, calcium and heavy metals such as lead even within the river’s normal load.
Air Transat signs deal to use jet fuel made from captured carbon dioxide: The Montreal-based airline has signed an agreement with SAF+ Consortium, which will make kerosene in a process that captures carbon dioxide produced by large industrial emitters.
Global warming trends highlight ‘enormous challenge’ of meeting Paris climate pledge: Temperatures will continue to warm over the next five years, and may even temporarily rise to more than 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, the World Meteorological Organization said.
Temperatures in Arctic Siberia hit record for June as wildfires spread: The Russian forestry agency said that, as of July 6, there were 246 forest fires covering 140,073 hectares and an emergency situation has been declared in seven regions
Opinion and analysis
Careful, Canada. Don’t get too smug about doing a better job fighting climate change than the U.S.
Editorial board: “Like Canada’s, and Mr. Biden’s, the House Democrats’ plan is grounded in the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. But it goes further than Canada in some important ways.”
Here’s what readers had to say
This week, readers debated the Canada-U.S. pipeline politics in the comments of our stories. You can read some of these comments in our letters to the editor, here. In response to the news and the conversation, we have more columns to share to drive the conversation.
Eric Reguly, The Globe’s European bureau chief, writes that pipelines are easy targets for environmental campaigners: “The easy era for pipelines is over. Pipelines that clean up their acts will slip more gently into retirement.”
Jeffrey Jones, our mergers and acquisitions reporter writes that Dakota Access experience shows that approval is anything but final: “If, for some reason, all the stars align for Keystone XL in the next four months, and it wins the clearances TC Energy and Alberta need to start construction in the United States, cheering would likely be premature.”
Also: Adam Pankratz writes about why the pipeline could be a win, even for those who don’t support it.
Email us at GlobeClimate@globeandmail.com to let us know what we missed
Each week The Globe will profile a young person making a difference in Canada. This week we’re highlighting the work of Miranda Baksh doing environmental education.
Hi, my name is Miranda Baksh, M.E.S, from Brampton, Ontario. I’m 25 and am an environmental educator with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
I co-founded the Community Climate Council which is the first of its kind in Peel Region, Ont. The non-partisan organization advocates for climate action and community resilience through climate literacy and municipal relations. I hope the council will offer youth with a platform to lead climate action in their community and to formalize their activism. I’m also currently illustrating a children’s book I wrote with friends that relates to conservation in Ontario.
I researched the relationships between Instagram use and biodiversity conservation during my masters in environmental studies at York University. My experiences while researching at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre in Belize and at York U’s EcoCampus in Costa Rica heightened my urgency to take climate action.
Climate change needs to be discussed as a human health concern, and seen less as ‘saving the planet’. Although we are seeing many of these climate-induced health impacts in Ontario such as ticks and extreme heat, we are privileged to have the technology and financial means to reduce carbon pollution and alleviate the suffering of less fortunate nations. Let’s frame the discussion around human health, advocate through what we consume, how we vote, and what energy sources we support.
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.
ICYMI: Globe Climate
- Researchers, including Canadian explorers, find clues of Ice Age people mining in Mexican caves
- How should Canada approach green stimulus plans? We asked architects of Obama’s strategy
- The dreams and the costs of carbon capture and storage