Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
Coffee-and-doughnuts chain Tim Hortons is preparing to test a system that would give customers the option to pay a deposit to have orders filled in reusable cups and other packaging and to return those items at its cafés and other drop-off points.
The parent company recently partnered with Loop, a program that takes back packaging from consumers – either from Loop disposal units or in some cases curbside pickup – cleans it, and delivers it back to the company of its origin for reuse.
Can you imagine how much waste that could save?
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- The federal government is opening the door to implementing carbon tariffs, as a way of pricing industrial greenhouse gas emissions without hurting domestic companies.
- Thirty-four officials at Powerex Corp., the energy trading subsidiary of BC Hydro, each earned more than $300,000 in the latest fiscal year as they benefited from a compensation system that critics fear is undermining British Columbia’s climate action plans.
- Electric vehicles alone aren’t enough to meet climate-change targets. One study found that to meet current emission goals, about 90 per cent of all cars in the U.S. – or about 350 million vehicles – will need to be electric by 2050.
A deeper dive
GOING HUNGRY IN CANADA’S NORTH
Ryan MacDonald is a senior editor at The Globe heading the climate, environment and resources team.
When the team at Human Rights Watch approached The Globe with an exclusive look at their report into the climate crisis and Indigenous peoples' right to food in Canada, I honestly wondered what more could be said – so much has already been written and documented on the issue of food scarcity for First Nations.
But this report was different, as Katharina Rall, one of the lead researchers explained. It approached the issue through the lens of human rights. And it reveals once again an unpleasant truth – whereas Indigenous peoples are among those who contribute the least to climate change they are already among those who are feelings its affects the most.
The report, and its accompanying short documentary about life on the Winisk River in Northern Ontario, are particularly eye-opening during a pandemic where our connections to the world beyond our own are now challenged daily.
What the report makes clear is that climate change is compounding the inequalities long experienced by Indigenous people in Canada, but also that the country’s climate-change policies aren’t helping to address the problems. One key recommendation from Human Rights Watch is its call for Ottawa to reconsider the design of the federal carbon tax, which it says will likely drive up food prices in remote communities.
What does that mean for everyday life? For a G7 nation like Canada, as the researchers told The Globe’s Kathryn Blaze Baum, it means some elders and children are being forced to skip meals because they don’t have access to traditional food or must consume processed food.
- From the archives: Almost half of all First Nations families are ‘food insecure’: 10-year study
- From the archives: First Nations ramping up efforts to address food insecurity
- Hydrocarbons in water: Neskantaga First Nation detects ‘high levels’ of hydrocarbons in drinking water
What else you missed
Ottawa contributing $100-million to research into how to reduce oil industry’s environmental impact: CRIN will aim to use the investment to support research projects to reduce the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by 100 megatons by 2033, the equivalent of taking 1.5 million cars off the road.
NASA mission aided by Canadian tech successfully completes probe of asteroid Bennu: Canada provided a laser altimeter for the mission, which was developed in Toronto and built by MDA Corp.
Montreal company GHGSat launches map of global methane concentrations: The interactive map available for free online boasts is the most accurate map of global methane concentrations ever made.
Colorado climate group appeals to Canadians over CPP-owned energy firm: “Dear Canada. Tell the Canada Pension Plan to stop investing in fracking next to homes, schools and playgrounds,” says one of several unidentified women in the video.
Opinion and analysis
The unnecessary Site C dam is shaping up as B.C.'s Muskrat Falls
Konrad Yakabuski: “Pulling the plug on Site C would take political courage. But whoever wins Saturday’s election can no longer ignore the evidence. This project is headed in the wrong direction and there is no reasonable prospect of turning it around.”
Thawing permafrost is a threat in the north – and around the world
Tony Penikett: “Canada is badly exposed on this issue, geo-physically and geopolitically. Our Northerners are suffering now – and the world is rightly skeptical of our record as one of the planet’s highest per capita GHG emitters, even without counting permafrost carbon feedback."
Climate and the arts
Canada’s literary festivals take on the climate emergency
The climate crisis has caught the attention of not only authors of doomsday texts thick with factual information and panic, but also novelists and writers of accessible non-fiction meant for the general population – and the literary festivals that feature them.
Instead of shying away from the topic, Canada’s literary festivals are taking it on.
The Toronto International Festival of Authors, now under way, has curated a critical conversation series, with a nightly discussion involving authors, journalists and other experts.
Each week The Globe will profile a young person making a difference in Canada. This week we’re highlighting the work of Tim Alamenciak, who created his own seed bank.
I’m Tim Alamenciak, 35, from Waterloo, Ont. I started a seed library for native wildflower seeds called the Waterloo Wildflower Seed Library during COVID-19 and have given out more than 200 packets of seeds. Because of the pandemic, I was unable to run in-person ecological restoration programs at the University of Waterloo, where I am studying for a PhD in Social and Ecological Sustainability. The seed library was my way of contributing to restoring our landscape by distributing native wildflower seeds.
Gardening has surged in the pandemic. There’s a huge opportunity to make a positive impact and push back against biodiversity loss by creating habitat in your garden. One of the best ways to help pollinators and other insects is to plant native species – these are flowers and grasses that have been growing in this area for thousands of years. The insects (including native pollinators) that live here evolved alongside these plants and rely on them for food, so by planting more of them, we can help recreate vital habitat that has been destroyed.
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.
Catch up on Globe Climate
- Governments are starting to place their bets on the energy transition
- It’s a plastic world after all
- Special edition part 2: Down to business
- Special edition part 1: Fire and ice