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

However you describe it, a newly reported fossil unearthed in a New Brunswick quarry is like no tree humans have ever encountered in the real world. “I think it would have been like something out of a Dr. Seuss book – just a little crazy,” said Olivia King, a paleontologist and graduate student at Saint Mary’s University of Halifax, who found the fossil in 2017 with Matthew Stimson when the two were working as research associates at the New Brunswick Museum. The discovery was reported for the first time on Friday in the journal Current Biology.

Somewhat related: Post-tropical storm Fiona has revealed traces of a time before dinosaurs, preserved in the rock and sandstone of PEI.

Big week for fossils!

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

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Olivia King poses beside the fossil tree she co-discovered in 2017.Matthew Stimson/Handout

Noteworthy reporting this week:

  1. Listen to The Decibel: Turning the tides into renewable energy
  2. Oil and gas: Biden’s pause on U.S. LNG spurs hopes for B.C. plans while climate activists urge restraint
  3. Water: Parched Alberta negotiating with water holders to strike share agreements
  4. Energy: Ontario approves OPG to begin refurbishing reactors at Pickering nuclear plant
  5. Mining: Canadian-owned mine at Ndassima seized by Russian mercenaries in Africa, is helping fund the war in Ukraine
  6. Green investing: Alberta Investment Management Corp. sets up $1-billion fund to invest in energy transition
  7. Analysis: ESG isn’t dead, it’s just evolving
  8. Explainer: Why are farmers in Europe protesting? What you need to know
  9. From The Narwhal: Manitoba’s most controversial mine faces conflict of interest accusations as licensing decision looms

A deeper dive

Charged up: The race to the next breakthrough in battery tech

Ivan Semeniuk is The Globe’s science reporter. For this week’s deeper dive, he talks about the future of batteries.

The electric vehicle revolution is under way. The realities of climate change tell us that sooner or later a larger fraction of our transportation infrastructure will need to pivot away from fossil fuels, with the most likely alternative being vehicles that run on batteries – ideally charged with low carbon sources of electricity. But even with Teslas and other electric vehicles becoming a more common sight, the vast majority of cars on the road still run on gas. We know that commercially produced electric cars are possible, so how long will it be before they are prevalent?

In a deep dive story on battery technology I speak with several scientists across Canada who are at the forefront of this research area. What I learned is that there is still plenty of room for fundamental research to explore and discover better approaches. The batteries used in cars today are not optimized the way the internal combustion engine is in gas conventional cars (thanks to more than a century of engineering). That means, almost certainly, that batteries are bound to get better and, in the process, help drive the electrification of the world.

China dominates both production and development in battery technology. But at places such as Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and the University of Waterloo in Ontario, we can find Canadian researchers working on ways to move the technology forward. Some of the work is meant to improve the lithium-ion batteries that already power electric cars. But there are also more long-range efforts to research the properties of different materials, such as sulfur or sodium, to see whether they can lead to batteries that are safer, perform better and are less dependent on critical minerals.

One current trend is looking for ways to develop “solid state” batteries that do not require a liquid component, as lithium ion batteries do. Among the advantages of such technology is better performance in cold weather – which will be essential for the switch to electric vehicles in northern countries such as Canada.

What I learned in reporting this story is that while manufacturers are busy gearing up for the mass production of batteries and the cars they will power, there is a second frontier on the horizon that is actively being explored by researchers. As the world electrifies, we are not simply swapping one technology for another. We are entering into a period of fascinating technical evolution, with climate as a key motivator.

- Ivan

  • Also read: Canada’s huge bet on the EV battery industry demands a jolt of reality
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Post-doctoral researcher Libin Zhang weighs precursors to make electrode materials in a lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax on Tuesday, January 30, 2024.Darren Calabrese/The Globe and Mail

What else you missed

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Climate activist Greta Thunberg walks outside Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, Britain, February 2, 2024.ISABEL INFANTES/Reuters

Opinion and analysis

Blair Stonechild: Humanity’s survival depends on listening to Indigenous voices

Charlotte Dawe: B.C. needs stronger legislation to protect its biodiversity

Chris Bataille: What’s working with Canada’s climate policy – and what isn’t

Jessica Scott-Reid: To end toxicity testing on animals, federal funds are needed

Heather Exner-Pirot: Joe Biden’s natural-gas pause is good politics but bad policy

Green Investing

Ontario to include nuclear power projects in its green bonds

Ontario has rewritten the rules for its multibillion-dollar green bond program and will now be able to use the proceeds for nuclear-power projects, the latest in a series of pro-nuclear moves made by the Progressive Conservative government.

The Ontario Financing Authority, issuer the province’s bonds, unveiled a new framework on Thursday for green bonds, which Ontario offers when it borrows money to finance capital projects that advance environmental goals.

Making waves

Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Somia Sadiq, who is helping facilitate reconciliation and co-operation with Indigenous communities.

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Somia SadiqHandout

My name is Somia Sadiq. I come from the valleys of Punjab and the mountains of Kashmir, and arrived in Canada in 2002. I am a guest on Turtle Island, on Indigenous lands that are threatened by climate change.

My company, Narratives Inc., has been working with Indigenous communities for the last seven years, supporting impact assessment, conflict transformation and informed decision-making. We work with First Nations to document their sacred knowledge about their lands, the psychosocial impacts of change and the path forward for healing and recovery. Our approach is informed by recognizing that most of us have been trained in Western, colonial institutions. We are reminded each day to undo, unlearn and decolonize. Once we do that, we can hear the sounds of Mother Earth again.

We strive to foster positive changes in our lives to make positive change – one story at a time. We celebrate the success of our partners, as they reclaim their territories and their roles as stewards of the lands. We hope to continue to inspire change through public education and awareness, and by understanding how each of us has the ability to change our planet.

- Somia

Do you know an engaged individual? Someone who represents the real engines pursuing change in the country? E-mail us at to tell us about them.

Photo of the week

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Spain's Sau Reservoir, in Vilanova de Sau, about 100 kilometres north of Barcelona, sits at only at 5 per cent of its capacity on Jan. 26, 2024. Barcelona and the surrounding area of northeast Catalonia are preparing to face tighter water restrictions during a historic drought that has shrunk reservoirs to record lows. Catalonia has recorded below-average rainfall for 40 consecutive months. Experts say that the drought is driven by climate change, and that the entire Mediterranean region is forecast to heat up at a faster rate than many other areas in the coming years.Emilio Morenatti/The Associated Press

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