Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
This is our first edition of 2021 – but before we move forward, have you taken The Globe’s science quiz?
From the amazing to the quirky, it’s a chance to test your wits and recall some of the biggest non-coronavirus science stories of the past year (including apes, mountains, and much more!).
Now, let’s catch you up on other environmental news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- The future will be green: Incorporate upcycling into your fashion routine and consider climate-friendly meals for the dinner table.
- A study that looked at internal company data of three Alberta oil sands operations shows a decline in greenhouse gas emissions, but the authors warn it cannot be used to paint a sweeping picture of the entire sector.
- Reviving the barren Turkish sea: The discovery that the waters off the Mediterranean coast had been exploited to near death convinced this man to launch an ambitious project to bring back the fish.
A deeper dive
Despite all the carbon-pricing noise in 2021, Ottawa will still have plenty of gaps to fill in its climate plan
Globe climate columnist Adam Radwanski walks us through the government’s plans and challenges ahead
It’s a pretty safe bet which Canadian climate policy will attract the most attention in 2021. We already know about carbon pricing plans. But what else do you need to know?
The carbon price will need complementary pieces that allow the carbon price to achieve its fullest potential. For consumers, that could look like implementing policies that change buying behaviour. For industry, that could mean helping companies seize decarbonization as an economic opportunity, rather than create competitive disadvantage.
Transportation is undoubtedly key to the mix, as Canada’s biggest source of emissions outside oil-and-gas production. Updating transit systems and helping drivers get access to electric vehicles will be important next steps, including getting EVs to Canadian market.
On the homeowner front, we’ll need to watch ideas around decarbonizing buildings and challenges with retrofits. In terms of energy utilities, commitments have been made to provide financing for grid connections between provinces with an excess of clean power and those that lack it.
There are all kinds of necessary debates about how to fill the many remaining gaps in the plan. But a government that wants the greening of Canada’s economy to be its legacy will need to press hard to keep policymaking momentum.
- Three key issues facing Justin Trudeau’s government in 2021
- Tax and Spend: Is carbon pricing a burden on Canadian households?
- Editorial: The difficult math of accounting for climate change
What else you missed
- The federal government has determined that the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir, a proposed flood-control structure intended to protect Calgary, would not likely cause significant environmental harm.
- 2020 ties with 2016 as the world’s warmest on record, rounding off the hottest decade globally, the European Union’s Copernicus Earth observation service reported.
- A group in Canmore, Alta., will build a small solar project at a local church that will produce enough power for two homes and will offset approximately eight tonnes of greenhouse gases a year.
- Research published in the journal Environmental Research Letters suggests the natural regions Canada protects don’t line up that well with where Canadians actually need them.
- Nepal’s smart farming program is helping villages cope with impacts of climate change, like a lack of water, which had been causing disease in plants.
Opinion and analysis
In an old photo of planet Earth, let us find new inspiration
John Boyko: “The pandemic, climate change, and rampant, empty consumerism remind us that Mother Nature is always the last at bat.”
If the clean-tech revolution isn’t careful, it could set off a climate crisis of its own
Thomas M. Kostigen: “The Industrial Revolution brought about our current climate crisis because the after-effects of burning fossil fuels weren’t considered.”
How Joe Biden’s climate ambition will challenge Canada to do more
Editorial board: “It is a win to have someone in the White House who respects the scale of the challenge and is ready to define his legacy by what he does about it.”
Let’s not forget the continuing fight against climate change – and the technical skills needed to do it
Claude Guay: “The potential of science to both prevent and solve some of the world’s greatest problems is immense, but its power is diminished without the human skills needed for its application.”
A tip from David Berman: Green bonds, as they are known, have an allure for investors who embrace environmental, social and governance principles. The best approach for most small investors is to diversify your green bond bets through a fund that holds several different issues.
James Rasteh: “Investors must work much harder to actually understand the operations of their invested companies, and devise suitable paths to make these more sustainable. Failing that, ESG funds will remain a marketing ploy at best.”
Shawn McCarthy and Robyn Gray: “So the stage is set to put in place capital market practices and regulations that will enlist private-sector investment to accomplish net-zero goals. Governments – and finance industry leaders – should not shrink from the opportunity.”
Interested in other business headlines?
- Mining billionaire Robert Friedland eyes green energy transition with new shell company
- Canadian EV maker Lion Electric partners with Amazon, gives retailer right to buy 15.8 per cent of the company
Each week The Globe will profile a young person making a difference in Canada. This week, we’re highlighting Laura Corrales, whose work deals with corporate sustainability.
My name is Laura Corrales. I am a 30-year-old Colombian living in Montreal.
After finishing an Engineering degree, I moved to Boston, where I was shocked by the amount of waste generated by “to-go” culture. I got involved with local initiatives like the first Zero Waste Sustainability unConference and enrolled in a Masters in Sustainability at Harvard University.
In Montreal I worked for ETHIK BGC, the first Circular Economy organization in the Canadian fashion industry, then joined UPS – looking to bring climate action to the corporate world, I founded the first Sustainability Committee at this logistics giant.
Now I am the Sustainability Officer at Delmar International. I was able to be trained as a Climate Reality Leader by former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore, and then mentored new leaders. I am also part of the Global Shapers Community, Youth Congress for Sustainable Americas Delegate, and a Leading Change alumnus.
In a world where some companies are bigger than entire countries, we will need an army of corporate sustainability ambassadors to make sure the private sector does its part to build a future where people and the planet can thrive. So get yourself informed and bring your climate actions to work!
Do you know an engaged young person? 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
- We’ve rounded up our reporters’ content to help you learn about sustainable ways to live life at home, travel, invest, and learn about our species at risk.
- If you like to read, we recommend some books to help the environmentalist in you grow, as well as a downloadable e-book, Micro skills – Little Steps to Big Change.
Catch up on Globe Climate
- A policy primer on Canada’s long-awaited climate plan
- The federal climate plan is belated, bold and brash all at the same time
- Five years later, the Paris Agreement is not aging well
- Climate change merits a fiscal response, too