Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
This week, the Globe Climate newsletter turns a year old! For our one-year anniversary, we’d like to thank you for reading and engaging with us each week.
Our birthday wish? Share this newsletter with friends and family to help them stay up to date on the most recent Canadian climate news. If there’s a topic you’d like to see more coverage on, write to us about it at GlobeClimate@globeandmail.com.
Now, let’s catch you up on the news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- Energy: A projected surge in energy investment triggers calls for a focus on renewables to meet climate goals. Meanwhile, Shell’s proposal to transfer licences to Pieridae sparks outcry over the ability of the small company to cover cleanup costs. Also: Homeowners face complex choices as Ottawa aims to promote energy efficiency.
- Technology: As clean-tech funding flows in, Canada faces a familiar problem – the struggle to keep homegrown innovations within its borders before companies can become major employers
- Wildlife: Endangered mottled duskywing to be reintroduced in Ontario. Also: Marcus Gee looks at how a dull little bird brightened a dismal year
- Waste: Ontario unveils producer-pay recycling system, but with lower targets
- Gardens: For indoor gardeners, Viridi offers a sustainable and stylish way to plant.
A deeper dive
Natural climate solutions for Canada
In February of 2019, researchers from across North America convened in Vancouver to start the work of answering a key question in Canada’s effort to stem climate change: How, exactly, could natural ecosystems help reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions? That’s what Kathryn Blaze Baum, The Globe’s environment reporter, wrote about this week.
The Nature Conservancy, an international non-profit, had already determined that natural climate solutions could contribute up to one-third of the global emissions mitigation required to achieve commitments under the Paris Agreement. But the potential in Canada specifically was far less clear. Nature United, the Canadian affiliate of the conservancy, sought to address gaps in the data.
The Vancouver workshop centered on establishing a common understanding of what constitutes a natural solution to climate change. The team decided that tactics must differ from what would normally be done, have demonstrable and near-term impacts on reducing climate warming, and provide safeguards for biodiversity and human needs for food.
More than two years later, the team of 38 experts across 16 institutions published its findings Friday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances. The study outlines a suite of actions targeting forests, grasslands, farmlands and wetlands that could help Canada cut its emissions by 78 megatonnes annually in 2030 -- an amount equivalent to more than a tenth of the country’s annual emissions.
The study comes as Ottawa prepares for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November. This year’s COP is viewed as a critical successor to the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which signatories pledged to hold global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this century and work to a more ambitious limit of 1.5 degrees.
Six years later, the question is: How are we faring, and will we do what it takes?
- Ryan MacDonald, climate, environment and resources editor
What else you missed
- Officials from around the globe begin three weeks of gruelling climate talks that will involve grappling with a number of thorny political issues.
- The insurance provider for Trans Mountain pipeline says it won’t renew the policy when it expires in August. Also, the Canada Energy Regulator, orders the company to stop tree-clearing work on the project.
- Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan announced that 30 million trees will be planted this season out of the two billion his government promised over the next 10 years during the 2019 federal election campaign.
- The Biden administration says it is cancelling or reviewing a host of actions by the Trump administration to roll back protections for endangered or threatened species.
- At least 10 per cent of the world’s mature giant sequoias were destroyed by a single California wildfire that tore through the southern Sierra Nevada last year, study says
- More than a third of heat-related deaths in many parts of the world can be attributed to the extra warming associated with climate change, according to a new study
Opinion and analysis
Jeff Jones: Climate looms large for incoming head of financial watchdog OSFI
Matt Simmons from The Narwhal: Five ways B.C.’s new forestry plan sets the stage for more old-growth conflict
Inside the market: Why Canadian energy stocks still hold long-term appeal despite climate activism
As investors become more serious about climate activism, where does this leave investments tied to the Canadian oil sands? There are several reasons why investors can relax, and perhaps even welcome the changes that are coming.
For starters, the activist investors driving changes at Exxon are concerned about positioning the company for an energy transition, rather than pulling the plug on oil production immediately. Canadian companies appear well-positioned here, given that some are well ahead of their global peers in laying out strategies for cutting emissions and diversifying beyond crude oil.
- Eric Reguly: The Little Engine No. 1 that could. How the fund that shook up Exxon might inspire a wave of shareholder activism
- Globe advisor: Why advisors and investors need to take growing concerns of ‘greenwashing’ seriously
Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week, we’re highlighting the work of Denis Thomopoulos doing eco cartoons with the Cool The Climate! project.
Hi, I’m Denis Thomopoulos, 55, in Ojai, California. I’m an eco cartoonist working with EcoSafe Zero Waste in Surrey, British Columbia, and we’ve joined forces to help kids and schools cool the climate!
We’ve created a fun, upbeat program, with a half-hour climate cartoon and real-life kids composting in schools, run by EcoSafe Zero Waste to help kids cut down on school emissions, reduce waste and empower the next generation.
The program grew out of the Unicef-endorsed Cool The Climate! project, which inspires children throughout the world to learn about and get involved with caring for our climate and planet. The website includes online games that save actual square feet of jungle, and each purchase from the shop plants trees.
We believe that fun and purpose can go hand in hand – nature inspires joy and so does protecting it! See the trailer and then watch the movie with your kids to inspire them to become local and global citizens of our Earth! And just after World Environment Day, now is as good as any time to get started.
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
- Oil, political connections, protests and elephants
- Behind the story of thwarted efforts to help steelhead trout
- Don’t underestimate the power of the garden
- High stakes in the Line 5 energy dispute