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

One of the world’s largest insurers says that Canada will be more than $100-billion poorer by 2050 if the world doesn’t work harder to fight climate change.

If temperatures rise by about 2.6 degrees Celsius the global economy can expect to see a drop in GDP of 10 per cent within the next 30 years, the study from Swiss Re says. In Canada, the hit would be about 7 per cent. That’s almost as much as this fiscal year’s projected federal deficit of just under $155-billion.

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

Noteworthy reporting this week:

Still catching up on the climate-related pledges from last week’s budget? Catch Adam Radwanski’s analysis and other highlights.

  1. An accounting of nature’s assets: Which areas should be prioritized for protection in order to gain a maximum return on public investments in nature? The science of eco-accounting is not to put a price on nature, or to ask what’s in it for us, but to better integrate the planet’s life support system into the way society assigns economic value.
  2. From The Narwhal: After years of trying to get B.C. to protect an important salmon watershed, the Gitanyow is taking matters into their own hands. The First Nation plans to declare the area as the Ha’Nii Tokxw Indigenous Protected Area — with or without support from the provincial government. The Narwhal is also hosting a webinar on Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas on May 4.
  3. Toronto’s ravines are the city’s natural drainage systems, and they’re getting a makeover. It might be just in time as invasive species and poor water management threaten the web of waters that define Toronto’s landscape. Other cities will face similar challenges as their ecosystems weaken.

Keating Channel in Toronto on April 5, 2021. The channel which serves as the mouth of the Don River before it enters Lake Ontario is being reimagined and naturalized as part of the Portlands Project.Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Globe and Mail

A deeper dive

If Canada is going to meet its new greenhouse gas emissions goal, it is going to have to be tactical

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

Trout season opened in West Quebec over the weekend, so my friend and I rushed out to a pristine lake, jumped into a rowboat and fished and fished. Until, as they say, we were well and truly skunked.

With the excitement of opening day behind us, we returned to do what all failed anglers should do: study hard. Our book of choice was all about tactics – how to use the process of elimination to reduce variables in an effort to persuade a picky trout to take a bite of your line.

It got me to thinking about Canada’s climate commitments at U.S. President Joe Biden’s climate summit and what lies ahead. Canada plans to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 per cent of 2005 levels within the next decade, ramping up its earlier promises – but without yet having a concrete path to the new goal.

It is a staggeringly ambitious commitment. And if Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals are serious about it, as the Globe’s Adam Radwanski writes, it will require tough policy debates about what is required of Canadians during the transition to a cleaner economy.

In other words, if Canada is going to meet this new goal, it is going to have to be tactical.

The hard questions for Canada are really in oil-and-gas production, the single biggest contributor to the country’s emissions total at 26 per cent as of 2019. Adam is right in stating that those emissions are not going to change overnight.

But what is clear is that corporate Canada will have to shoulder much of the load to reach Canada’s emissions goal, and according to the Globe’s Jeffrey Jones, the private sector is not ready.

The Biden summit was a precursor to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November. One major theme in Scotland will be the financial fight against climate change – and how to speed to global transition to a net-zero economy.

What lies ahead for business will be costly and, in some cases, disruptive. In this case, we know exactly what lies under the water and how to tackle it.

What else you missed

  • Author Max Wilbert speaks to The Globe about the environmental battle between the ‘bright greens’ and ‘deep greens’
  • The European Union clinched a deal on a landmark climate change law that puts new, tougher greenhouse gas emissions targets at the heart of all EU policy-making.
  • A state of Michigan regulator said it will consider the impact of climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions when deciding whether Enbridge Inc can build an underwater tunnel to rehouse a six-km section of its Line 5 oil pipeline.
  • Ottawa and a small Mi’kmaq community appear to be headed toward renewed tensions on the waters off southwest Nova Scotia as the First Nation plans another self-regulated lobster season.
  • SpaceX launched four astronauts into orbit using a recycled rocket and capsule, the third crew flight in less than a year for Elon Musk’s rapidly expanding company.

Opinion and analysis

The Conservatives’ carbon pricing plan: a tax that wouldn’t even reduce carbon consumption

Andrew Coyne: “The Conservatives don’t want a plan that works, still less one they might actually have to implement. They just want a plan they can wave around for a while, then discard.”

Green Investing

Major banks, insurers team up with Carney, vowing to mobilize trillions toward net-zero goals

Jeffrey Jones: “Banks, insurers and fund managers that control US$70-trillion of assets have banded together to use their financial might in efforts to speed up the global transition to a net-zero emissions economy with the aim of preventing the worst effects of climate change. Led by Mark Carney, former governor of the central banks of Canada and England, and now United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance, the 160 companies involved have pledged to “mobilize” the trillions of dollars needed to make the changes that will help countries deliver commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

Making waves

Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Jean-Simon Venne creating climate-focused artificial intelligence.

Jean-Simon Venne.Handout

My name is Jean-Simon Venne, and I am the Chief Technology Officer at BrainBox AI, a rapidly growing artificial intelligence company in Montreal. The climate-change crisis we face today is dire and requires the implication of multiple stakeholders to resolve.

A couple of years ago I was behind the wheel of a self-driving car. That is what ignited the flame to create BrainBox AI, a company focused on addressing the impact of real estate on climate change. Why? Because buildings generate nearly 30 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions. Inspired by my experience with the self-driving car, we have developed a deep learning engine that focuses on the real-time optimization of building operations 24/7, reducing the CO2 emissions of a commercial building by 20- to 40 per cent while improving tenant comfort by 60 per cent.

Our technology generates results in less than three months and has already been deployed in 40 million square feet of real estate across five continents. A key component of the solution is its ability to be rapidly deployed and generate results quickly. In the fight against climate change, speed and impact matter.

- Jean-Simon

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

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