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.

Visual storytelling is a great way to connect to the world, especially in environmental reporting. The photo team at The Globe created a guide to show how the process works when tackling photo and video projects.

Know someone interested in submitting a story idea to our visuals team? Check out the guidelines on what we are looking for, and examples of successful pitches.

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

Selection of images pitched by Globe and Mail freelancers.The Globe and Mail


Noteworthy reporting this week:

  1. Big read: Climate denial and adaptation overlap on Louisiana’s stormy Gulf Coast: Despite increasingly violent hurricanes and erosion, residents of Cameron Parish are determined to stay in a rural region where the fossil-fuel industry is the biggest employer
  2. From nutrition columnist, Leslie Beck: Why is an environmentally sustainable eating habit a worthwhile goal? Here are four steps to an eco-friendlier diet
  3. Nuclear: It’s been touted as the silver bullet to help countries meet ever-stricter emissions standards. But as nuclear power rises again, its second act is in doubt.
  4. Pipelines: Ottawa says it won’t put any more public funds into Trans Mountain pipeline, meanwhile environmental group says viable alternatives exist to Line 5 for energy supplies to Ontario, Quebec
  5. On the ground with The Narwhal: Ice loss is changing one Anishinaabe fisherman’s relationship with Lake Superior

A deeper dive

With the end of the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, the world looks to where next

The next Winter Olympics will be held in Italy - in Milan and Cortina. It will mark the first time that the Olympics has been hosted by a pair of cities. That distinction is important, as Matthew McClearn wrote this week, because climate change is shortening the already short list of Winter Games venues. And for Canadian cities considering making another bid, such as Vancouver, that means if emissions remain on their current trajectories it could be out of the running by late this century.

These Olympics put China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, on the world stage. But it was the International Olympic Committee that making broad promises around climate. Globe Climate asked Cathal Kelly, the Globe’s columnist in Beijing, what we should take from these Winter Games. Here’s what he told us:

Aside from your average oil consortium, nobody does climate-change doubletalk better than the International Olympic Committee.

Their latest line in this con is “climate positivity.” Great term. I like sunshine, too. I am positive about the climate.

They can figure out a way to run the snow-making machines on recycled wastewater, but it’s not going to change the fact that tens of thousands of people need to fly to an Olympics to make it work. Once we’re done with the pandemic, add in hundreds of thousands of sports tourists, all of them rich and madly bent on conspicuous consumption.

In the interim, the IOC has cleverly turned one of its biggest problems – luring host cities – into a climate-change PR solution.

Per the IOC: “With 95 per cent of venues pre-existing or temporary, among other measures to avoid and reduce carbon emissions, the Paris 2024 carbon footprint is expected to be half the carbon footprint of previous Olympic Summer Games.”

They make it sound like a visionary programme they’ve undertaken. It is in fact a cost-saving measure and the only way to convince a city like Paris to host a Games. If you agree to do it, we’ll agree not to force you build one of those stadiums we love so much.

Beijing 2022 proved you don’t need winter to host a Winter Games. It doesn’t snow here. No problem. They’ll make the snow. Owing to that lack of snow, nobody participates in winter sports here. No problem. They’ll hire ringers to fill in.

Like many other institutions, the IOC has figured out the answer to its climate change problem – you say the right words over and over again, like a prayer. When the fashionable words change, you say them instead. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you invent your own words.

If the IOC was making a sincere effort at eliminating all primary and associated (key word) emissions, there’s only one path forward – end the Games.

You could do a rump Games – plant it in one place and allow no one aside from the athletes and a few camera crews in. But how do you make money off that? You don’t. If they want to be carbo- neutral, they must first be revenue-neutral. Good luck convincing them of that.

It’s a lot easier to chant “climate positive” until people lose interest. Like other businesses in this situation, the IOC can’t offer people bread. But unlike those others, the IOC gets its circuses for free.

-Cathal, with files from Rachel Brady

Anastasiya Andryianava of Belarus in action during training. Genting Snow Park, Zhangjiakou, China - February 13, 2022DYLAN MARTINEZ/Reuters


What else you missed


Opinion and analysis

John Stackhouse and Pedro Barata: Canada needs a blueprint for a green skills revolution

Lawrence Herman: Biden’s White House will fight hard against Alberta’s $1.3 billion Keystone XL pipeline lawsuit

Ben Rawlence: The boreal forest is the lung of the world. Not protecting it will have consequences for us all

Peter Singer: Even if plants experience consciousness, that doesn’t mean we should stop eating them

Lisa Raitt and Jim Dinning: Conservatives need a climate plan that will position Canada for a future of clean growth


Green Investing

What America’s Buy Clean plan might mean for Canadian cleantech

After watching the convoy blockades and hearing a growing message of protectionism from the U.S., there’s a risk that trade disputes could enter the climate-change realm. (At a time when tens of billions of dollars are being poured into green technology and products).

Last week, the White House announced a series of “pro-climate, pro-worker” measures to help the U.S. with its green recovery by buying building materials with lower-lifecycle carbon emissions. But the concept is using government procurement to “reward clean American-made materials.”

Canada’s cleantech sector has set a target to generate $20-billion in export revenue by 2025. Based on $9.4-billion in exports in 2020, those revenues will have to increase by more than 20 per cent a year to make the goal. The U.S. would have to be confident that Canada is a trusted partner in an industry that will only keep expanding as demand for its products grows over the next several decades. Read Jeff Jones’ full analysis here.


Making waves

Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Alysa McCall working on polar bear-human conflict.

Alysa McCallBradley Hampson/Bradley Hampson/Polar Bears International

My name is Alysa McCall. I’m 34, live in the Yukon, and have been studying polar bears for my entire adult life – I got my M.Sc. in Ecology from the University of Alberta, where my thesis focused on the polar bears of western Hudson Bay. I’m on Polar Bears International’s science and education teams. I host outreach events (e.g., International Polar Bear Day) and support our research projects.

I now focus on polar bear-human conflict. As sea ice declines, polar bears spend more time on land, increasing their likelihood of encountering humans. Tools (like SpotterRF early-detection radar), education (including efforts like polar bear colouring books), and training will help reduce future risk.

I’m also on the Polar Bear Research Council’s Field Techniques committee, developing ways to study polar bears in their remote habitat. We can learn more about this species and conservation efforts when we have the right tools and improved knowledge.

Reducing carbon emissions now will protect the future for people and polar bears. Our voices and votes count - let’s make them loud. The passion of those around me is inspiring: together we are working for a sustainable future. It’s our only option.

- Alyssa

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

Hippos float in the lagoon at Hacienda Napoles Park, once the private estate of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar who decades ago imported three female hippos and one male in Puerto Triunfo, Colombia, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. Colombia's Environment Ministry announced in early February that hippos are an invasive species, in response to a lawsuit against the government over whether to kill or sterilize the hippos whose numbers are growing at a fast pace and pose a threat to biodiversity.Fernando Vergara/The Associated Press


Catch up on Globe Climate

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