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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
As usual, we try to start off this newsletter with not-bad news, and today we have something inspirational.
Thirty years ago Roberta Bondar became Canada’s first woman and the world’s first neurologist in space. It was then that she acquired a renewed passion for her home planet that would prove to be a guide star for her current work as an advocate for environmental awareness.
Astronaut Dr. Bondar has been cultivating curiosity on Earth since then, and she’s been on a quest to improve our appreciation for this planet. Read more about her trip three decades ago, and what she’s been up to back on Earth.
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- Reports: Global conservation goals are insufficient to avoid mass extinction event; Animal stress may put medical-research results in question, Canadian-led study finds
- First Nations: As disputes around logging increase, First Nations eye carbon credits as a way to generate revenue; B.C. First Nations push for revamp of province’s forestry policies
- Energy: Climate scientists urge Ottawa to cancel proposed carbon-capture tax credit; Ottawa gives Alberta’s clean energy tech sector a $3-million funding boost; B.C. regulator to review flooding risks on Tilbury LNG’s expansion plans
- Travel (for when we can): Sustainable tourism advocate Costas Christ shares pointers on how to travel smarter
- From The Narwhal: What does Canada wants to do with its decades-old pileup of nuclear waste?
A deeper dive
Greener Homes Grant reimbursements are still being waited on
Kathryn Blaze Baum is environment reporter for The Globe. For this week’s deeper dive, she talks about the story behind Ottawa’s energy-efficiency retrofit program struggle.
This past fall, the Siding and Window Dealers Association Of Canada sent out a survey to its 500 members. Executive director Jason Neal wanted to know where people stood on the federal government’s Greener Homes energy-efficiency retrofit program.
The grant program, which launched in May, helps cover the costs of investments in energy-conserving improvements like electric heat pumps, new windows and doors, solar panels and better attic insulation. Homeowners can receive up to $5,000 for retrofits and up to $600 for the costs of energy evaluations, which must be conducted by federally registered advisers before and after the renovations.
The overwhelming majority of survey respondents had heard of the program, but nearly 40 per cent said they weren’t promoting it. Why? There were several reasons, but chief among them was the shortage of energy advisers able to do the required evaluations.
Companies that provide the service are telling homeowners it could be months – or even years, – before an energy adviser could make it to them. Ottawa is well aware that the current number of federally registered energy advisers in the country – 1,250 – isn’t sufficient, so it’s providing funding to train and mentor upward of 2,000 more. It’s also experimenting with remote evaluations.
The shortage is among the challenges that homeowners are facing in navigating the program, which has so far received more than 180,000 applications. As of Jan. 18, 1,227 homeowners had completed the entire retrofit, evaluation and application process. Only 223 people had actually received their grants.
Mr. Neal said the program is laudable for its goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but the inability to book timely appointments with energy advisers is a “real lynchpin” in the program.
“If Mr. and Ms. Smith are doing a renovation and spending a quarter-million dollars, and the only thing holding them back is a pre-renovation audit to save $5,000, they’re not going to wait,” he said. “They’ll just move forward.”
What else you missed
- Severe weather events in Canada caused insured losses of $2.1-billion in 2021
- Iqaluit water treatment plant shut down over fuel contamination
- B.C. company fined $75,000 for importing fins of protected sharks
- Four B.C. First Nations make deal with Western Forests to defer old-growth logging
- Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says province preparing to submit another carbon pricing plan to Ottawa
- Federal decision on fish farms prompts closing of B.C. processing plant, company says
- Climate activists lose court case against Britain’s oil and gas regulator
- Canadian scientist examines melting Antarctic glacier, potential sea level rise
- Quebec details plan to capture, confine isolated caribou herds to protect them
Opinion and analysis
Sean O’Connor and Kyle Scott: Canada’s climate opportunity is where agtech and cleantech meet
Peter Kuitenbrouwer: On Frozen Pond: The joy of skating on natural ice
When it comes to ESG issues, Canada’s financial industry needs a skills upgrade
We know what Canada’s environmental, social and governance goals are. But achieving them depends on making sure there are enough professionals to deal with all of the machinery, and that managers and employees know how it is all integrated into their jobs. They are going to need an army of ESG experts. Recruitment is not keeping pace, Jeffrey Jones writes.
- Quebec group pushes for new way to measure economy to reflect social, environmental factors
- Green stocks are down, creating some promising opportunities
Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Jasmine Rodman collaborating with youth to share climate-related stories.
Hi, I’m Jasmine Rodman, an artist, student, entrepreneur and storyteller. I grew up exploring the gorgeous ocean, forests and mountains around my home on Vancouver Island, B.C. I always enjoyed experimenting with pencil and paint, so combining my love of the ocean and art was a natural combination of my two favourite things.
At 15, I started my own sustainable small business, Ocean Child Creative, using my art to begin conversations about the ocean and raise funds for non-profits. I then joined Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Program’s Future Blue Youth Council, where we worked to create a brand new granting program for young changemakers. And now, at 17, I have been named a National Geographic Young Explorer. Working with youth globally, I will help share their environmental and climate-related stories with a wider audience through digital storytelling. Becoming a Young Explorer is an incredibly exciting next step for me, and I can’t wait to continue collaborating with amazing young activists, artists and curious youth from around the world. To connect with me, you can visit my website at jasminerodman.com.
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
- A warming climate affects alpine environments (and avalanches)
- Canada’s 2022 climate-change adaptation strategy, under a microscope
- She’s alive, she is healing. Who is the Magpie River?
- Could putting a price on nature help save it?