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.
We’ve already talked about how this is the climate change election, and right before voting gets under way, Adam Radwanski explains one last time that Canadians are facing a hugely consequential decision about their country’s road toward clean-economy transition (even if we might not know it from how the federal election campaign has played out).
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- The June heat wave that killed hundreds of people in B.C. was the most deadly weather event in Canadian history by a factor of about three, a scientific director from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control says.
- Oil and gas mergers and acquisitions expected to continue in pursuit of net-zero goals, even as the overall global fossil fuel production remains shaky
- From The Narwhal: Shoal Lake First Nation, a community on the Manitoba-Ontario border, gets clean water after 24-year wait
Don’t forget to continue reading stories to inspire your young ones to get into STEM and sustainability. This week, for a kids’ activity, help them discover if they can stop a banana from turning brown. Can chemistry also help prevent this?
Let’s Talk Science and the Royal Society of Canada have partnered to provide Globe and Mail readers with relevant coverage about issues that affect us all – from education to the impact of leading-edge scientific discoveries. Let’s Talk Science offers a number of fun activities to get youth engaged in STEM. These hands-on activities encourage active learning and discovery using materials commonly found at home.
A deeper dive
Divest or invest?
Ryan MacDonald is a senior editor at The Globe heading the climate, environment and resources team.
The debate around divesting from investments in oil, gas and coal has hit a milestone on a storied university campus with an enormous endowment fund.
Harvard University’s announcement that Harvard Management Company, which runs the university’s US$42-billion endowment – the largest U.S. university endowment fund – would divest from fossil fuel investments follows years of protests from students, who called it a “massive victory.” Harvard’s endowment fund had already been selling down its stakes, although it still has investments in private-equity funds that have exposure to the industry.
Divestment campaigns have been less successful on Canadian campuses. In part, that is because Canada is a large oil and gas producer. Concordia University in Montreal, the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia have all announced divestments.
As Jeff Jones writes, it’s a noble quest. But there’s another side to this argument. It’s this: what is really needed for action is a seat at the table – and universities should use their financial muscle to nudge the old economy into the climate fight.
Canada’s pension funds, also under pressure to divest, are moving in this direction as they move to address climate risk.
Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan aims to vastly increase clean-energy investments and push companies in its $228-billion portfolio to set paths to net-zero carbon emissions, as one of Canada’s largest institutional investors shifts its strategy to deal with climate risks.
Along with addressing risks, the fund also sees investment opportunities. Ziad Hindo, Teachers’ chief investment officer, said in an interview that addressing climate change can be “return-enhancing”. By investing in sustainable businesses and positioning them as leading players, those companies will be worth more than their peers, he said.
Divest or invest? That’s a debate worth having.
What else you missed
- The sustainable family farm: How Kimiko Uchikura and her daughter, Tessa, are following their inspiration – and their hearts – to create a sustainable agriculture business in Bobcaygeon, Ont.
- World leaders are returning to the United Nations in New York this week with a focus on boosting efforts to fight both climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, which last year forced them to send video statements for the annual gathering.
- Companies that suck planet-heating emissions from thin air – a process often decried as too costly and little more than science fiction – say they are gaining wider interest from governments and investors to help fix a “code red” climate-change crisis.
- A Canadian First Nation in northern British Columbia said it was trying to force Enbridge Inc. to reroute a natural gas pipeline off its reserve lands after the line exploded in 2018, causing residents to flee their homes.
- Federal Conservatives are dodging questions on coal mining in Alberta Rockies, critics say
- Biden meets with small group of world leaders to push for more action on climate change
- Enbridge Inc. has been fined and could face criminal charges for breaching Minnesota environmental laws during the construction of its Line 3 pipeline replacement.
- Few nations have sufficient plans to curb warming, report says
Opinion and analysis
Amit Arya and Samantha Green: Climate change puts Canada’s seniors at risk
Eric Reguly: Norway’s election thrust climate to the political forefront and brought in the centre-left. Taste of elections to come?
Dr. Bonnie Schmidt: With science happening in real time, tackling pandemic disinformation is critical
Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan ramping up green investments in net-zero push
Teachers said it plans to reduce the emissions intensity of its holdings by 45 per cent from 2019 levels by 2025, and by 67 per cent five years later. Emissions intensity measures greenhouse gases per dollar invested. The goals cover the fund’s assets in real estate, natural resources, equity and corporate credit, as well as holdings run by external asset managers, it said.
The plan adds the interim targets and other details to Teachers’ announcement in January that it will seek to get to net zero by 2050, in line with international commitments set out in the Paris Agreement on battling climate change.
Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Audrey Nelles helping in the transition to a sustainable blue economy.
My name is Audrey Nelles. I’m 20 years old and I’m a biology student at McGill University and an intern with the SOI Foundation. The SOI Foundation inspires and empowers leadership for a sustainable future by connecting youth to nature, and to the knowledge, people and resources to make a difference.
I work on the Foundation’s Blue Futures Pathways program, which connects youth across Canada with education, employment and funding to support them in developing successful careers in the Sustainable Blue Economy. We’ve just launched our internship program, which provides education and stipends of up to $15,000 for youth seeking employment in the ocean and water sectors.
I know the kind of future I want to see for Canada. In order to slow climate change, Canada needs to prioritize healthy ecosystems, strong coastal communities, and recognition of Indigenous water rights. Supporting youth in building a sustainable future for our oceans and waterways is one of the most important things we can do to get there.
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
- The energy transition is fuelling a revamp in schools
- The climate change election is coming
- How to save art in catastrophic climate-related events
- Canada’s clean-energy advantage is in peril