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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
We’ve been throwing a lot of different COP content your way, so let’s start off this newsletter with something a little different.
It’s been 50 years since Apollo 17 took a portrait of the Earth that’s still a potent symbol for environmental activists – and a reminder of how much the planet has changed since 1972.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- Solutions: Climate scorecard provides picture of how marine life will fare as oceans become warmer
- Infrastructure: BC’s new cabinet puts spotlight on housing, climate emergencies
- Industry: An Indonesian forestry giant becomes the new king of Canadian pulp (and paper)
- Profile from The Narwhal: Jane Goodall on hope, fatigue and finding pockets of nature wherever you are
A deeper dive
COP15 check in
Ivan Semeniuk is science reporter for The Globe. For this week’s deeper dive, he gives us a midway catch up on the UN biodiversity conference.
We’re at the halfway mark at COP15, the United Nations biodiversity conference in Montreal, and you can feel the anxiety ramping up.
The meeting of nearly 200 countries who are part of the UN convention on biodiversity is widely seen as a once-in-a-decade opportunity to create a worldwide plan for the protection of nature. For delegates, that outcome is simply called the “GBF” (global biodiversity framework) and somehow, by this time next week, they need to agree to one or the meeting will be seen as a failure.
There are several complex issues at play, many of which are being dealt with separately in smaller side meetings, called contact groups, where the details that could inform the framework can be hashed out. These include the question of how much of their territory countries are willing to leave undeveloped so that nature can be conserved, and how to finance the effort so that those countries who are high in biodiversity but also need to develop their economies are not being asked to carry the load for the rest of the planet.
Some of this is similar to how international climate talks are conducted, with developing countries asking for incentives to develop without doing it in the same carbon-intense way that benefited Western countries over the past 200 years.
But there is an important difference, because of the potential value that comes with protecting nature. With climate change the focus is mainly on stopping one thing — the emission of greenhouse gasses – in order to prevent a multitude of long-term negative consequences for humanity. If accomplished, the benefits are global by definition because we are all sharing the same atmosphere.
With the convention on biodiversity, the central challenge is learning how to utilize the planet in a way that better integrates nature into the economy. It’s a more complicated task, in part because the benefits that come from protecting a particular ecosystem are not automatically distributed to everyone.
That is why an important part of the discussion at COP15 centres on such questions as how to share in the benefits from genetic information. Genetic sequences are the molecular foundation of biodiversity and they can now be digitized and moved around the globe easily without any benefits flowing back to the places where the sequences originated.
This week we take a deep dive on this issue to illustrate the complex questions the delegates at COP15 face and that must be addressed in the days ahead. But it also illustrates that a well-designed framework could allow nature to effectively pay for itself by putting incentives in the place that favour sustainability.
- Also read Indigenous voices: Ottawa to invest $800M in four Indigenous-led conservation efforts, as well as First Nations National Guardians Network. Plus, Visa issues exclude Indigenous voices from COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
- Explainer: What’s on the agenda at the UN’s COP15 nature summit in Montreal?
- Opinion: Indigenous cultures hold the keys to sustaining our planet. At COP15, will we finally be listening?
- Finance: At COP15, a movement grows to manage nature-related financial risks,
What else you missed
- Electric delivery trucks begin rolling off the line as Canada’s first large EV plant opens
- Extinction risk to wild species must be eliminated by 2050, conservation group says
- Climate change affecting Christmas trees in B.C. and beyond, expert says
- Hardening is just one way to make buildings resilient, says urban development expert
- Indigenous groups plan to develop new protected conservation area in NWT
- EU agrees on new law preventing import of goods linked to deforestation
- Nova Scotia releases sweeping plan aimed at cutting emissions, reaching climate goals
- U.K. approves first new coal mine in decades, sparking anger
- Climate activists block Champs Elysees to demand better insulation of buildings
- Get tough with Canada over cross-border mining contaminants, Indigenous groups tell U.S.
- Oldest DNA reveals life in Greenland two million years ago
Opinion and analysis
Emmanuel Nyirinkindi: Half of global GDP is dependent on nature – we deplete it at great cost
The editorial board: Mapping the future of Canadian oil in a net zero world
Brian Kingston: In a future of electric vehicles, Canada is driving on a low battery
Gary Mason: It’s time Quebec started paying as much carbon tax as the rest of Canada
Canada to stop directly financing fossil fuel projects abroad, with narrow exceptions
With weeks until an end-of-year deadline it agreed to last year, Canada has announced that it will end new direct subsidies for fossil fuel investments and projects abroad – including those owned by Canadian companies. The policy applies to the extraction, production, transportation, refining and marketing of crude oil, natural gas or thermal coal, as well as power generation projects that do not use technologies such as carbon capture to significantly reduce emissions.
- Indigenous communities leading the switch to renewable energy in the North but more support is needed, think tank says
- Vanguard quits net zero climate effort, citing need for independence
Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Tristan Surman making social change.
Hello! My name is Tristan Surman, I’m 23, and I live in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal.
I’ve been working with activists and organizations across Canada to amplify their stories through My Media, a communications agency for social change and climate action that I founded in 2019. We’ve worked with 100+ impact-driven organizations—helping raise $2-million and mobilize over 30,000 people for climate action initiatives in the last year.
I’m also a documentary filmmaker. I recently got to go across Canada to make four documentaries about climate justice leaders in the country.
I get frustrated about the ‘climate narrative’ because it is devoid of the hope and vision that I see everywhere. I get to interact with brilliant people daily and I just want everyone to know: there is hope, there is excellence, there is ingenuity, there is magic out there living in the minds of passionate people who put their boots on the ground every day. The story of the climate crisis is also a story of love and brilliance coming together to forge a more habitable world.
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
Catch up on Globe Climate
- Why Montreal’s COP15 is worth our attention
- Canada drops the first National Adaptation Strategy
- The COP27 1.5-degree goal still shows signs of life... for now
- COP27 winding down, plus meet our new environment reporter