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globe climate newsletter

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

Tuesday is the U.S. election, and the outcome will affect Canada in many ways, including climate policy.

To help you make sense of the outcomes and what a Donald Trump versus a Joe Biden win could mean, check out this week’s Deep Dive.

Oh, and make sure you check back in with us next week when we’ll have more analysis based on the results.

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

Noteworthy reporting this week:

  1. Vancouver can only meet its 2030 climate targets if it embraces new regulations such as a road toll for the metro core, parking permits for every resident car on the street and building upgrades to reduce the use of natural gas, a new climate-action report from staff says.
  2. A “tsunami” of used batteries is coming over the next decade, largely because of surging demand for electric vehicles, says Tim Johnston, the co-founder of Li-Cycle Corp. The goal is to recycle, send the contents of those spent batteries back to manufacturers, rather than into landfills.
  3. Woven into the Canadian tapestry this season is a foreign interloper, in a slow but steady invasion. To an untrained eye, it could be mistaken for the sugar maple, but the Norway maple tree is changing Canada’s fall palette.
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Eric Richard shows the difference in the leaves between the Norway maple (left) and a Canadian maple (right) on Mont Royal in Montreal, Que. on Oct. 29, 2020. The Norway Maple, planted on the Mount Royal, has been progressively taking over the Canadian maple's population.Andrej Ivanov/The Globe and Mail

A deeper dive

How the U.S. election will shape Canadian climate policy

Adam Radwanski is a climate change columnist at The Globe. For this week’s deeper dive, we’re including part of his column on the U.S. election and what it means for Canadians concerned about climate.

This week, Americans will either elect a new president with by far the most ambitious climate-change plan of anyone who has ever held the office, or re-elect a climate-change denier who goes out of his way to thwart others' efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Never mind the caveats. Sure, Democratic nominee Joe Biden probably won’t be able to implement his entire $2-trillion climate plan if he wins, especially if his party fails to also gain control of the Senate. And yes, despite all of Donald Trump’s obstructionism, state-level governments and the private sector will take some strides toward decarbonization even if the Republican incumbent gets another term.

But it is still impossible to overstate the stakes for the future of the planet. As the clock runs down to take sufficient action to avert environmental catastrophe, the United States will either reassume its past global-leadership role, or keep retreating from it.

And as Canada struggles to figure out where it fits into that global fight – how ambitious to be in its emissions-reduction commitments, how to make good on them in ways that create economic opportunity – there is also no escaping that the leadership of its behemoth neighbour will help shape this country’s role.

But regardless of the results of the presidential vote, Canadian policy-makers won’t have a much easier path when it comes to climate change. Instead, the two possible outcomes both stand to pose new challenges alongside new opportunities. What’s in question is whether that will require Canada striking out on its own in a way it hasn’t to date, if Mr. Trump wins, or meeting a higher standard for climate action than it has previously embraced, alongside Mr. Biden.

The climate-related peril for Canada if Mr. Trump is re-elected is certainly more obvious.

This is an excerpt from Adam Radwanski’s most recent column. Read the full article here.

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A screen shows a video of Democratic presidential nominee President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump during the final presidential debate, at a rally in Allentown, Pa., Oct. 26, 2020.Al Drago/The New York Times News Service

And read more recent coverage here:

What else you missed

Australia wildfires probe recommends greater climate risk forecasts: The Royal Commission, which is the country’s highest form of investigation, said that smoke that blanketed much of Australia, including major cities, had contributed to hundreds of deaths.

An astronaut’s guide to a better life on Earth, a video series hosted by Chris Hadfield: The Globe, in partnership with Elevate, presents Chris Hadfield’s Endeavour Series, conversations about making life better on Earth.

Ottawa unveils rules for $750-million emissions reduction fund: Oil and gas companies that use federal cash to help cut methane emissions from their operations won’t have to repay every penny if they eliminate the methane emissions entirely.

Opinion and analysis

Why local decisions on road pricing and sprawl matter in a climate crisis

Editorial board: “So much of our cities is given over to roads and parking. Transport pricing is a key option – the “game changer,” in the words of Vancouver city staff – for rethinking that equation in the 21st century.”

Agriculture – a new source of global power for Canada

William A. Macdonald: “Climate change is reducing available arable land worldwide. But it is also increasing the arable land in Canada.”

Here’s what readers had to say

Reader: We asked for your thoughts on the U.S. election and climate policy in Canada.

  • From George O.: “Presidential candidates perpetually promise more than they can deliver and climate actions will be no different. If Biden wins there will be fights with both houses of congress about what should be done and when, followed by years of judicial suits. Any changes domestically will cause waves amongst importers of products to the U.S. since there will be exemptions for domestic industries that won’t apply to imports plus endless arguments over whether Canadian actions are equivalent to U.S. actions and whether Canadian exports are subject to special tariffs because some politician or judge decides imports should be penalized. There will be years of regulatory chaos and uncertainty.”

Making waves

Each week The Globe will profile a young person making a difference in Canada. This week we’re highlighting the work of Sowmyan Jegatheesan doing data research, volunteering and leadership.

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Sowmyan JegatheesanHandout

My name is Sowmyan Jegatheesan, 30, from Thornhill, Ont. I am an entrepreneur building my data strategy startup working with enterprises to find meaning for their data. As a volunteer, I built to index datasets related to wildlife from across the world from Open Data sources. Since 2015, we have become one of the largest indexes of datasets related to wildlife with users from over 140 countries and 250 universities across the world. In summary, we help people looking for open research data related to wildlife get access to them in a single place.

Our Project has been featured as a model citizen science initiative at UN conferences and awarded the Commonwealth Youth Award 2020, a first time for someone from Canada. As a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shaper community, WEF sponsored a scholarship to facilitate my participation at the Climate Reality training where I had the opportunity to meet with former vice-president Al Gore and train under him.

Over the years I have been an active Climate Reality leader with multiple acts of leadership including encouraging many other change makers to train and participate in the training program to amplify their efforts. I hope more young people take up volunteering and also use technology efficiently to solve the climate crisis.

- Sowmyan

Do you know an engaged young person? Someone who represents the real engines pursuing change in the country? Email us at to tell us about them.

Photo of the week

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This aerial picture shows the red painted "glacier bus", a 15 metres long bus fitted with massive tires, driving at Langjokull ice cap in Iceland, on October 1, 2020. Instead of a slow slog on snow shoes, an Icelandic company is offering tourists a spot on a massive bus tour of its second largest glacier, which is expected to be nearly gone by the end of the century. The red painted "glacier bus" is 15 metres long and fitted with massive tires, for traction across the powder snow of the 844 square kilometres of the Langjokull ice cap, the second largest in Iceland.HALLDOR KOLBEINS/AFP/Getty Images

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