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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
Remember when we were excited for the end of winter? The Weather Network has forecasted a delayed spring, just in time for the big snow storm that Ontario saw last week. A winter season that lacked commitment in its early days is likely to finish strong. The prolonged winter trend is expected to hold true for most parts of the country.
But as the winter wanes, maybe we will realize how much we’ll miss it, one writer suggests. That means there’s at least one person who has come to love the blistery season -- when the world is shrouded in a snowy layer that quiets the busiest streets.
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- United Nations: Conservation groups hail historic deal to protect ocean life
- Mining: Ontario and two First Nations agree on terms of EA for last of three roads into Ring of Fire
- Adam Radwanski analysis: Ottawa’s Buy Clean strategy starts to take shape - but not fast enough for global competition
- Green investing: The architects of Canada’s “green taxonomy” rule book say it will unlock billions in new cleantech investments
- Provincial budgets: Alberta’s non-renewable resource revenue forecast to hit record high of $27.5-billion; B.C.’s budget rings up $4.2-billion deficit, carbon tax to fund new housing and health-care spending; B.C.’s budget forecasts revenue from forestry sector to tumble amid industry slump
- After the Tukey and Syria earthquake: Ottawa says no plan to certify domestic rescue crews for international crises after
- Architecture critic: Why is Toronto tearing down tall buildings? Ask city planning
- Analysis from The Narwhal: Who should pay when development causes floods?
A deeper dive
Experts point to eroded public trust in Alberta’s energy regulator
Water tainted with dangerous levels of arsenic, dissolved metals and hydrocarbons has been leaking off the Kearl project onto Crown lands since May, and last month a drainage pond at the site overflowed, spilling an estimated 5.3 million litres of industrial wastewater laced with pollutants.
But Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam told The Globe and Mail that neither the oil company responsible for the leak nor Alberta’s energy regulator (AER) notified him or his council of the extent of the problem, until after the pond overflowed in February onto Crown lands in the remote area about 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.
At a press conference he said he believes it was “environmental racism” for the AER and Imperial Oil to keep his community in the dark about the toxic tailings seepage. The AER has since slapped Imperial Oil Resources Ltd. with a non-compliance order and an environmental protection order over the incidents.
Experts say this underscores a broader problem about the patchwork of federal and provincial laws that govern the sector.
“That is a serious problem that really needs to be repaired,” said Kristen van de Biezenbos, associate professor of energy law at the University of Calgary. “Both levels of government need to think carefully about, ‘What message are you sending to First Nations and rural communities when you refuse to hold companies to their legal obligations?’”
The Northwest Territories are also speaking up, saying Alberta didn’t live up to the terms of a deal it has with the region to inform it about threats to its shared watershed after two major oil sands tailings spills.
“The bilateral agreement says Alberta is supposed to advise us with any ecological changes that happen, and they didn’t do that,” Shane Thompson, the territory’s Environment minister, said. “The government of the NWT will not support the release of tailings unless rigorous science shows how to do it. We also need to see the science.”
Environment and Climate Change Canada said enforcement officers have conducted an on-site inspection at Kearl and collected samples to investigate the incidents.
Energy reporter Emma Graney is following the story, and will continue reporting this week.
What else you missed
- CSIS warns climate change threatens Canadian security, prosperity
- Climate change, Indigenous issues transcend boundaries with Russia, Governor-General Mary Simon says
- Ottawa to require biggest suppliers to disclose emissions, set carbon footprint targets
- Climate activists splash Royal B.C. Museum’s mammoth ‘Woolly’ with pink paint
- Deutsche Bank tightens financing policy on coal, but not on oil and gas
- In big power producer Norway, plans for greener industry meet resistance
- Enbridge could spend US$1-billion expanding company turning food waste into energy
- Huge Hornsea 3 wind project in Britain at risk without government action, developer says
- Environment groups say Bay du Nord approval flawed, must be overturned
- U.S. court denies emergency bid to halt Lithium Americas’s Nevada lithium mine
- Climate activists protest against Germany’s transportation policies
Opinion and analysis
Larry Pynn: What I’ve found on remote logging roads speak volumes about our respect for public lands
Jessica F. Green: Buying carbon offsets is a waste of time that we don’t have
Jonathan Arnold and Jim Leech: Despite criticism, Canada’s taxonomy for green investment standards walks the line well
Mary Soderstrom: A way to cope with Canada’s rising sea levels
BP’s Beyond Petroleum rolls back climate ambitions, sends shares soaring
The former British Petroleum, desperately wants to be a good environmental citizen – but not just yet. So what is going on here? Is European Big Oil extending the middle finger to investors who worship at the altar of the environmental, social and governance movement?
Eric Reguly has another theory. Big Oil is resisting evolving into Big Energy mostly because its CEOs and upper management – generally aging white males – do not trust themselves to compete in the fast-moving world of tech-heavy sustainable energy. It is not in their DNA, and shareholders do not trust them to stray from the core business of pumping oil and gas out of the ground. Nor should they.
- Jeffrey Jones: Toronto-based Li-Cycle gets conditional commitment for US$375-million U.S. Department of Energy loan
- Globe advisor: Wall Street titans confront ESG backlash as new financial risk
Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Sanjay Sundram teaching climate change through art.
I’m Sanjay Sundram, 52, a visual artist and educator, residing in Ottawa since 2013. Over the last 15 years, I have had numerous art exhibitions across the world.
I started the Teach Your Parents art project with my two children Abhimanyu, who is in Grade 11, and Nandini, in Grade 6. We wanted to raise awareness about the climate emergency among kids, since they will be the worst affected by it. Children learned about climate change through comics and animations created especially for this project. They then made paintings based on what they had learned, and their ideas for change. Over 100 selected paintings are on display at the Trinity art galleries in the Shenkman Arts Centre, Ottawa. The show is called Emerge and is on till April 18. Nandini illustrated the comics with me and did the animation voiceovers. Abhimanyu worked on the research, set up the project online and helped with logistics. We worked on this for over five months, managing on a shoe-string budget.
Children from Canada and India participated in this project with over 700 children submitting paintings! Participants were delighted to see their work in an art gallery and being talked about on TV and radio. We have started work on the next stage of this project, on a larger scale involving schools in more cities and countries. There is hope. Our children will be wiser than we have been.
Please reach out to us if you would like to be involved or to participate in the Teach Your Parents project at firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Guides and Explainers
- Want to learn to invest sustainably? We have a class for that: Green Investing 101 newsletter course for the climate-conscious investor. Not sure you need help? Take our quiz to challenge your knowledge.
- We've rounded up our reporters' content to help you learn about what a carbon tax is, what happened at COP 26, and just generally how Canada will change because of climate change.
- We have ways to make your travelling more sustainable and if you like to read, here are books to help the environmentalist in you grow, as well as a downloadable e-book of Micro Skills - Little Steps to Big Change.
Catch up on Globe Climate
- What Canada can learn from the “Norway paradox”
- Can Canada keep up in the race to world cleantech superpower?
- The future of fusion energy
- The last ice merchant of Ecuador
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