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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
City Space is a new podcast from The Globe and Mail that delves into questions of how to make our cities better. The first episode is all about the 15-minute city concept and whether that could help us lose our dependence on vehicles by having all our amenities within walking distance. How would this change the way we live? Can we really just cut and paste the idea in Canada? Check it out!
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- From black gold to hot water: Inside Western Canada’s geothermal push, and why the price tag is holding it back
- Ahead of COP26: As pivotal climate summit approaches, Canada is at the centre of efforts to repair broken trust among poorer countries
- Old growth forests: B.C. Supreme Court ends Fairy Creek injunction, but the province says Ottawa’s offer to help end battle over old-growth logging is insufficient
- From The Narwhal: Citizen scientists collect and share data on watersheds in the Skeena region to fill gaps in our collective knowledge of one of B.C.’s largest salmon watersheds
- Opinion: I am the daughter of Greenpeace’s founders. As the organization turns 50, I wish the world didn’t need it any more
A deeper dive
No time for resentment in the energy transition
Jeffrey Jones writes about sustainable finance and the ESG Sector. For this week’s deeper dive, he talks about the Caisse de dépôt and its green shift
Climate activists and oil-patch supporters stood up and took notice when Canada’s second-largest pension plan, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, served notice it was getting out of the oil-production game as part of its green shift.
Environmentalists hailed the move to divest $4-billion worth of shares in Canadian and international oil companies as a new and important watermark in a race to decarbonize the country’s big retirement funds.
The Alberta government and Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers took it as an affront to an industry spending serious money to reduce its carbon footprint and struggling to prevent investment capital from going elsewhere.
To be sure, the move by the Caisse is the most far-reaching among Canadian pension funds as they seek to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris agreement. It could lead others to follow suit, to various degrees.
Canada’s big pension funds hold a lot of sway in the economy. The eight largest ones manage assets worth more than $1.6-trillion on behalf of current and future retirees. Their investment decisions will play a major role in how Canada navigates the green transition.
Layered on top of all of that is the duty to generate healthy and stable returns for their pension beneficiaries.
Oil producers represent now just 1 per cent of the Caisse’s assets, though four years ago, when the pension plan first unveiled its net-zero initiative its position was twice as big. In a portfolio worth $390-billion those single-digit percentages represent serious money.
It’s rekindled an old argument in the investment world, pitting divestment supporters against those who advocate remaining as shareholders in oil companies and using their positions to push for more money and effort to be expended cutting emissions.
The Caisse has decided it would rather stay on the outside if it means not contributing to increases in global oil supplies.
What else you missed
- ‘30 years of blah blah blah’: Greta Thunberg and fellow youth campaigners question Italy climate talks, leaders say they will heed young activists’ climate calls
- Most Canadians aren’t optimistic about humanity’s chances of fighting climate change, a new survey suggests.
- Enbridge’s long-delayed Line 3 oil pipeline project to start up Oct. 1
- Global airlines accelerate climate pledge despite Chinese opposition
- Western fossil fuel firms investing in Africa face risk of regulatory action, U.S. climate envoy says
Opinion and analysis
Mark Little and Charles-Antoine St-Jean: Why Canada should be the home of the new global sustainability standards board
Editorial board: Heat waves are getting more deadly. Canada needs to be ready
- The new Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions head promises urgent action on climate, technology risks threatening financial sector
- Vancouver’s Semios harvests $100-million from main backer for more agriculture-tech acquisitions
- Funds managing nearly $30-trillion in assets called for 1,600 of the world’s most polluting companies to “urgently” set science-based emissions reduction targets.
- Fear of multi-billion-euro lawsuits from fossil fuel investors is putting the Paris agreement on climate change at risk, one of the deal’s architects has warned.
From Report on Business Magazine: How Canada’s Top Growing Companies transform good ideas into great products, such as Tru Earth. They are eliminating plastic pollution, one laundry detergent jug at a time.
Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Scott Cavan working for the betterment of Indigenous peoples and the environment.
My name is Scott Cavan, I’m 49ish, and a proud dad to two young men. I live in Yukon Territory and I’m a Kanienkahaka (Mohawk) member of the Six Nations of the Grand River
Throughout my career, I’ve been devoted to the betterment of Indigenous peoples and the environment has been a large part of this; my ultimate goal is to leave our earth in a better shape for future generations. I’ve worked toward this goal throughout my career, with both the provincial government and the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), on policies to advance us economically, socially and environmentally.
A year ago, I began working at Coeuraj, a transformation practice, leading its Sustainable Economies stream. We work with our clients to transform systems that will initiate a domino effect of long-term change. We want to challenge existing ways of working and thinking about how our social, environmental and economic responsibilities are truly connected to one another.
We’ve got a long way to go, but I think the world is starting to wake up. I know we can be part of the change we need to see!
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
- Will Canada be ready when extreme, deadly heat returns?
- Federal election will set a path toward Canada’s environmental future
- The energy transition is fuelling a revamp in schools
- The climate change election is coming