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

Tired of reading? Here’s something to watch.

Climate and resources editor Ryan MacDonald speaks at the Canadian Council for the Americas Annual Awards Gala: Converging on Sustainability. Check him out at around 38 minutes in as he moderates the marquee conversation between the award recipients on sustainability.

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


Noteworthy reporting this week:

  1. “Financed emissions” are the next front in the war against climate change, writes Jeffrey Jones. And, he says, it’s time to acknowledge the role banks and insurers have in reaching climate goals.
  2. Alberta is changing how it calculates the payments oil sands companies make to ensure there’s enough money to clean up the mess they leave behind, after the sector was hit with an extreme drop in oil prices because of the pandemic.
  3. Ottawa is stepping into the approval process of a proposed Ontario highway that would link four Toronto-area municipalities, saying environmental concerns require a closer look.

A deeper dive

The high stakes of Line 5

Ryan MacDonald is a senior editor at The Globe heading the climate, environment and resources team

With the rise of global concern over confronting climate change, pipelines have become symbols. Name a pipeline – real or proposed – and you’ll see what I mean: Energy East, Northern Gateway, Coastal GasLink, Trans Mountain, Keystone XL.

In nearly every case, these pipelines have become referendums on government commitments to fighting climate change. Such is the case for the rather mundanely named “Line 5.” It’s a fast-moving story with plenty on the line on this week.

Last November, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, citing the risk of an oil spill, announced that she would revoke an easement granted in 1953 that allows Line 5 to cross the Straits of Mackinac, a waterway in the state. Her order followed a campaign promise during her 2018 gubernatorial race to shut down the pipeline.

The pipeline’s Calgary-based operator, Enbridge Inc., has challenged the order in U.S. federal court. Enbridge has proposed building an underwater tunnel to better protect the pipeline, but this will take several years.

As The Globe’s John Ibbitson writes, it’s highly unlikely that Line 5 will shut down this week. The parties have been in court-ordered negotiation and those negotiations are due to continue past the May 12 deadline issued by Ms. Whitmer.

The federal government has said Line 5 is “non-negotiable.” Without the pipeline, Ontario would be about 45 per cent short of the crude oil it requires, according to Enbridge. Line 5 also provides 55 per cent of Michigan’s propane needs.

Still, the stakes for the Michigan governor are high. Last week, Ms. Whitmer’s office called Line 5 a “ticking time bomb” and said Enbridge Inc. will be breaking the law if it doesn’t shut it down.

And The Globe’s Steven Chase has revealed yet another side of the story. Michigan’s battle to shut down the pipeline is attracting public support from Democratic allies in more than a dozen states, a sign of the challenges U.S. President Joe Biden could face in trying to intervene on the matter.

Ottawa says it’s willing to intervene if necessary in the Line 5 energy dispute. A sign of what’s ahead could come this week as Canada is seriously considering filing a court submission.

There is little about this debate that attempts to recognize the shift to a low-carbon energy future. If the pipeline is shut down, Ontario and Quebec will be forced to find other sources of crude oil for refining and import it by rail or truck or ship – a potentially more dangerous and environmentally damaging method of transport.

Energy and politics. The symbolism couldn’t be more apparent.


What else you missed

  • Can oil-rich Alberta capture a low-carbon future? The oil sands in the western Canadian province of Alberta contain one of the world’s largest deposits of crude oil, but the oil and gas industry has also contributed to making Canada the world’s fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter per capita.
  • From The Narwhal, searching for solutions in the Kispiox Valley: As the province reviews the timber supply in a northwest B.C. forest district, locals explore options for non-timber forest products and work together to support sustainable forestry opportunities.
  • Fifteen young climate activists are taking their court battle to the next level as they try to compel the Canadian government to develop a climate recovery plan based on science.
  • Climate change is rarely factored into management decisions for fisheries in Atlantic Canada and the eastern Arctic, according to a report from a national marine conservation group.
  • Antarctic melting could cause a “dramatic” rise in sea levels if countries fail to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, posing a serious threat to low-lying and coastal regions, researchers said.

Opinion and analysis

Mark S. Boyce: Mimic the Bison. Why we should bury carbon tax revenues in soil

Heather Chalmers: How Canada can lead amid the global energy transition

Dambisa Moyo: Is ESG compliance at odds with investing in China?


Green Investing

Ten stocks with strongly sustainable earnings and ESG scores

After numerous earnings misses in 2020, earnings season is off to a strong start this year, with 60 per cent of companies in the S&P 500 index having reported earnings. Of those who have reported, 86 per cent have beat analysts’ consensus with a positive earnings surprise, making the first three months of 2021 one of the best quarters on record for earnings surprise.

Today, we look for names that can continue to produce strong earnings through the rest of the year, and rank in the top tier in terms of environmental, social and governance (ESG) scores. Check out these North American-listed companies with strong earnings quality and best-in-class ESG scores.

Also: Buffett’s ESG snub risks alienating Wall Street


Making waves

Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Kyla Pascal focusing on healing justice.

Kyla Pascal.Handout

Hi, I’m Kyla Pascal. Born in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton), I am a 29-year-old community builder of Métis-Dominican descent. I’m living and studying on the ancestral, traditional and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish Peoples (Vancouver).

I have always been interested in the relationship between community, culture, food and justice; I’ve been developing my skills of growing food and harvesting. I’ve been working at Indigenous Climate Action and I’m involved in community and art projects including collaborating with Hungry Zine, which provides the opportunity for folks to share their stories and art around food, community and culture.

Lately I’ve started to turn my focus on healing justice. There are many ways to fight climate change and one important aspect I think we forget to focus on is the work of self. We can accomplish a lot by healing our own wounds and relationships with one another. Whether it is working with our grief of loss of land as Indigenous peoples, or navigating the impacts environmental racism has on racialized folks or unpacking our own privileges. Healing ourselves is healing the earth. This too is climate work.

- Kyla

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

Flamingos land in the Sel Kapani Dam Lake in the Golbasi district of Ankara which also attracts many other species of migratory birds on May 8, 2021.ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images


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