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

This week is the Ontario election. Globe climate change policy columnist Adam Radwanski has written about climate policy in Ontario, checking out the biggest environmental issues facing the province and how the parties have proposed handling them. He breaks it down for us in the Vote of Confidence newsletter, read it here before election day on June 2.

We also take a deeper look at how the construction of Highway 413 would negatively affect the environment, not help it.

Also: Search by party with The Narwhal to compare the different approaches of their election platforms.

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


Noteworthy reporting this week:

  1. Food: Fake meat was touted as the ‘future of food’ and seemed an ideal solution to much of the world’s food sustainability problems, Why did it fail to deliver?
  2. Forestry: Once sidelined from forestry in their traditional territory, Huu-ay-aht First Nations are now a significant player with plans to expand
  3. Space: Canadian firm that tracks methane leaks from orbit launches three more satellites
  4. Analysis: Ottawa has one last chance to get its most belaboured climate policy right
  5. Oil and Gas: Ottawa open to East Coast LNG plans, subject to meeting climate goals

A deeper dive

Life in the floodplains

Matthew McClean is an investigative reporter and data journalist for The Globe. For this week’s deeper dive, he talks about new data on Canadian cities at risk in floodplains.

After virtually every major flood, curmudgeons disparage bewildered victims whose damaged homes were located in known river floodplains: “What outcome were you expecting?” they’ll ask.

In fact, building within floodplains has been common not only across Canada, but pretty much everywhere on Earth and throughout human history. Ignorance has often been a contributing factor. But a lack of consistent, national floodplain mapping has meant that it has been nearly impossible to identify which Canadian cities have exposed themselves most to this risk.

Until now.

A new analysis by The Globe identifies Canadian cities that have largest proportions of their buildings within floodplains. This was made possible by national floodplain maps published recently by the University of Western Ontario. Hotspots are found right across the country: Chilliwack, B.C., High River, Alta., Chatham-Kent, Ont., Sorel-Tracy, Que., and Miramichi, N.B. In the seven most exposed cities, at least one of every five buildings lies within the 100-year floodplains.

Western’s data isn’t perfect: it’s of coarse resolution, for starters, and doesn’t always agree with official maps produced by provinces or municipalities. But it provides a foundation for discussing an uncomfortable truth: Many Canadian cities are condemned to damaging floods even based on historical climate patterns, simply through their own land use planning decisions. Climate change is expected to cause floodplains to expand in many watersheds, and could also produce more frequent floods, so those decisions promise to become even more expensive in the decades ahead.

Addressing floodplain development after the fact is certainly possible. Cities of greater political and economic importance often defend themselves with dikes and other physical defences. Less popular are relocation programs, but they’re gaining traction in some places. The cheapest option – avoiding floodplain construction altogether — typically starts only after major catastrophes, and doesn’t always endure.

- Matt

Also read: Sea level rise is coming for cities. But who can afford to ‘float’ their way out?

Debris flow in flood waters around a home in the Yarrow neighbourhood after rainstorms caused flooding and landslides in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada November 20, 2021.JESSE WINTER/Reuters


What else you missed


Opinion and analysis

Matthew McClearn: Ontario is struggling to keep up with electricity demand in the Windsor area. How will the province handle electrification and net zero?

Jackie Forrest: Blackouts could drive a return to home solar

Bruce Lourie and Bentley Allan: Canada needs a more strategic approach to build out the net-zero economy

Bjorn Lomborg: The painful food truths exposed by Russia’s war in Ukraine

Grant Bishop: Alberta Court of Appeal ruling is preview of future constitutional challenges for Ottawa’s climate policy


Green Investing

OSFI to order banks to give details on climate risks

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions released new draft rules it said will force banks and the other institutions to assess and deal with potential weak spots from physical climate risks and those stemming from economic and policy changes. In addition, OSFI will require all institutions under its purview to adopt the reporting framework of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, or TCFD, which has become a global standard.

But, as Jeff Jones writes, progress among the largest Canadian companies on delivering that climate-related risks data appears to be stalling. Today’s laggards will be forced to get up to speed awfully quickly once new rules are put into force that will make it mandatory to report greenhouse emissions. If the Canadian companies meet their 2030 goals, and represent a 30-per-cent cut in greenhouse gases for the entire TSX index, according to the Institute for Sustainable Finance.


Making waves

Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Valérie Laliberté helping create at-home natural fertilizer.

Valérie LalibertéHandout

My name is Valérie, I am 30 years old, and I am the product manager and co-founder of Tero, an award-winning company that offers the ability to transform food waste into natural fertilizer.

I always wanted to create a product that put environmental and societal impact at the heart of development. At Tero, I was able to combine ease of use, performance and aesthetics. I also believe that creative thinking and innovation are essential to have a positive impact on our societies and environment.

We will make a difference by developing solutions that are adapted to our time, that are in line with tomorrow’s necessities and that are inspired by the real needs of people. It is through the creation of a small appliance that offers people the opportunity to improve their waste management that I understood the impact we can have as a society; every little gesture counts.

- Valérie

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

Farmer Salah Chelab standing in his field in Yousifiyah, Iraq Tuesday, May. 24, 2022. At a time when worldwide prices for wheat have soared due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Iraqi farmers say they are paying the price for a government decision to cut irrigation for agricultural areas by 50% due to severe water shortages arising from high temperatures, drought, climate change and ongoing water extraction by neighboring countries from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers - all factors that have heavily strained wheat production.hadi mizban/The Associated Press


Guides and Explainers


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