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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
We are one week away from COP26! Do you still have questions? E-mail us at GlobeClimate@globeandmail.com to let us know.
In the meantime, you can read ahead on the climate issues world leaders will be discussing at the Glasgow conference.
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- Climate and the arts: After fire in Lytton, B.C., museum staff found artifacts that survived – and to recover what remained of its cultural treasures, conservators had to get creative and work fast before the bulldozers came in.
- Energy news: Alberta’s energy inquiry says there was no wrongdoing by anti-oil-sands activists, meanwhile a report says failure to attract capital for energy transition puts jobs at risk. Also, one panel is urging Ontario to stop refunding carbon tax payments to natural gas plants.
- From The Narwhal: Ontario’s Durham Region battles over the future of Carruthers Creek, where there is a proposal to build a hospital that could increase flood risk downstream in Ajax, on a watershed already under stress.
A deeper dive
It’s time to stop the dizzying array of reporting standards for companies
Ryan MacDonald is the Globe’s climate, environment and resources editor. For this week’s deeper dive, he talks about climate-related disclosures ahead of COP26.
In the flurry of announcements timed to coincide with COP21 climate talks in Glasgow next week, there is one that is worth a second look.
At long last, Canada’s securities regulators have proposed new requirements to standardize climate-related disclosure by companies.
There have been many calls for a universal approach to replace the dizzying array of reporting standards for companies in this country. The Globe has written extensively about those calls and documented how the level of disclosure in Canada is all over the climate map.
On climate-specific data, the world has coalesced around the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) as the standard template for disclosing emissions and analyzing the risks to businesses from global warming.
But there’s a hitch with these new rules as proposed. The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), the body of provincial securities commissions, has fallen short on how companies report on different categories of emissions, known as scopes.
Under one option, companies would be required to disclose scope 1 emissions, or those from sources owned or controlled by the company; scope 2, or indirect emissions from the purchase of power, heat or steam; as well as scope 3, or indirect emissions created, for example, when consumers use a product. The latter is the most difficult to quantify.
Remarkably, companies could be exempted from disclosing their emissions for any of the three categories if they provide an explanation. In the regulatory world, this is known as “disclose or explain.” Under a second option, only scope 1 would have to be disclosed.
Early this month, the Institute for Sustainable Finance at Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business issued a report urging Canadian governments and regulators to accelerate efforts to improve disclosure of emissions to stay competitive with Europe, and it noted many business leaders have called for standardized reporting.
The CSA regulations also do not require analysis of various climate scenarios, a key TCFD recommendation. The body said the decision to omit scenario analysis was made to minimize costs and regulatory burdens. It also said it had heard concerns from investors about the usefulness of the information.
All of this puts investors at a disadvantage as they are less able to judge whether businesses will be resilient to coming changes. Climate action is escalating among the investor community. Just today, 36 institutions managing $5.5-trillion of assets called for accelerating the transition to a net-zero Canadian economy.
More importantly, these proposals would deny companies what they need to address a climate crisis: predictable and measurable outcomes. Companies are no longer free to emit carbon, they will increasingly find that those emissions have a steep price. Companies that don’t reduce risk and look for competitive advantage are likely to be left behind - those who get it right are more likely to win big.
What else you missed
- More needed to prevent deaths from climate-change driven heat waves, fires: report
- Two Quebec companies unveiled first all-electric ambulance to be deployed globally
- G20 divided over coal, 1.5-degree climate limit ahead of crucial Rome summit, sources say
- Africa’s rare glaciers soon to disappear: report
- B.C. Forest Practices Board chair says proposed changes to forestry policy ‘a start’
- Amazon, IKEA among companies committing to using zero-carbon shipping fuels by 2040
- Line 5 dispute is “directly and significantly” impacting Canada-U.S. relations, Enbridge says
- Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister
Opinion and analysis
Rita Trichur: Caisse’s investment in a cryptocurrency company at odds with its pledge to fight climate change
Tzeporah Berman: The bar for climate leadership is far too low in Canada
Konrad Yakabuski: Canada’s banks join Mark Carney, signalling a shift from the West’s fossil fuel dependency and delighting OPEC
Patrick Brethour: Why conservative criticisms of carbon pricing are full of hot air
Editorial board: This isn’t the first energy shock of the green era. It’s the last energy shock of the fossil-fuel age
Eric Reguly: This energy crisis has helped expose ESG’s shortcomings, and we’re all paying the price
Why more retirees are looking to green their portfolios:
Most retirees seek steady, low-risk investment returns. Responsible investing was often seen as a niche strategy that potentially added risk to an investment portfolio. But this style of investing has moved mainstream in recent years. ESG performance has become a critical metric used by large money managers such as BlackRock Inc. and institutional investment managers like the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
- Euro zone banks should be legally bound to adopt climate transition plans, ECB official says
- World Bank sees “significant’ inflation risk” from high energy prices
Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Charlotte Langley doing sustainable tinned seafood.
I am Chef Charlotte Langley. I’m 37, based in Toronto. I’m co-founder and the chief culinary officer at North American craft seafood cannery, Scout. I lead the recipe and product development while advocating for responsible seafood practices as the official Canadian Chef Ambassador for the Marine Stewardship Council.
Scout is about much more than reviving the vanishing art of tinned seafood. We work with small-scale fishers, local canning partners and farms that share our interest in improving ocean health and cutting food waste, for a transparent supply chain. As a Certified B Corporation (pending), we are committed to restoring responsibility in the seafood industry, while supporting climate action projects through 1% for the Planet.
My mantra is to be mindful of where your food comes from and how it is produced. Look for species from renewable populations, as well as a more diverse seafood diet. Include seaweeds, shellfish and mollusks. Find product certifications, like the MSC blue tick, that show it has been sourced from not-at-risk populations and with minimal impact on our marine ecosystems.
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
- Indigenous-led power to put 17 First Nations on the grid
- Is this what the energy transition looks like?
- Canadian pension funds play big role in green transition
- Will Canada be ready when extreme, deadly heat returns?