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

Hello and happy 2024! This is the first newsletter of the new year, but before you move on, let’s take one last look at 2023.

How closely were you paying attention to new discoveries in AI, climate science, biology and space exploration? Test your knowledge with Ivan Semeniuk’s 2023′s science quiz to find out.

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

Noteworthy reporting this week:

  1. Policy: Saskatchewan stops collecting federal carbon levy in rebuke to Ottawa
  2. Finance: Future of innovation funding agency in doubt as Ottawa delays implementation until potentially after election
  3. Hydroelectricity: Indigenous leaders seek to speed up BC Hydro’s expansion plans
  4. Weather: Is winter, as we know it, dead? Canadians adapt to a mild December
  5. Transportation: The man who lost faith in electric aviation
  6. Human rights: As Canada vies for UN Human Rights Council seat, some Indigenous leaders from the Amazon raise red flags
  7. Drought: Prolonged drought keeps B.C. village in state of emergency
  8. In-depth: Ontario municipalities’ veto powers granted by Ford are complicating efforts to avert electricity shortages
  9. Conservation: Indigenous groups in B.C. seek long-term funds to bring salmon back to the Columbia River
  10. On the ground with The Narwhal: Two Anishinaabeg farmers are decolonizing Toronto’s hydro fields

A deeper dive

How reconciliation is tied up in the Ring of Fire

Niall McGee is the mining reporter for The Globe and Mail. For this week’s deeper dive, he talks about the role of reconciliation in Canada’s pursuit of mining critical minerals.

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Tent poles for a teepee stand outside the Henry Coaster Memorial School on the Marten Falls First Nation on Dec. 12, 2023.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The extremely remote Ring of Fire region in Ontario’s far north is undoubtedly the most mythologized resource project in Canada; I’ve spent much of the past five years dispelling false narratives around it. My coverage has been heavily slanted toward the investing angle: What are the odds of the project actually getting off the ground, what are the economics and what companies stand to benefit, or lose, vast amounts of money?

But arguably a more important angle that I hadn’t hitherto sufficiently explored is the Indigenous one. What do the many First Nations communities that live in and around the project think of the potential development of the Ring of Fire? This kind of reporting has been done before but, in my opinion, has tended to only scratch the surface. Usually it has been along the lines of, a certain First Nation is in favour, another is opposed and another is conflicted.

So instead of going broad, I decided to go deep. In fact, this happened out of necessity. Of the three First Nations that I reached out to, only one, Marten Falls, agreed to host me.

But what started out as a limitation ended up being a huge advantage. I was able to get into the nuance of the story in a way that I believe added soul (if you will allow me to be a little pretentious for a minute) to the story. Marten Falls is broadly in favour of mining development in the Ring of Fire. However, through speaking to people on the ground, it became clear that there are still lots of conflicted feelings.

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Laurenn Coaster, 22, is a member of the Marten Falls First Nation.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

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Elizabeth Achneepineskum (L) and her son Chief Bruce Achneepineskum, of the Marten Falls First Nation.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

In my piece, the reader hears from 22-year-old Laurenn Coaster, who is bucking the trend of smart people leaving the First Nation for a better life off reserve. The highly sensitive and intelligent Ms. Coaster worries about a nearby First Nation that is opposed to development. Elder Elizabeth Achneepineskum is wary of development as well. She worries about the track record of Australians in their treatment of Indigenous peoples, (an Australian company owns the most promising assets in the Ring of Fire), but she also sees development as a possible avenue to self-sufficiency for Marten Falls’ members. Then there’s Chief Bruce Achneepineskum (Elder Elizabeth’s son). He’s been wary of past media coverage about Marten Falls. He doesn’t particularly like the moniker that he is “pro-development.” He finds it too simplistic and reductive. If he’s pro anything, he’s “pro First Nations,” he told me.

On a final note, one of the coolest parts of my reporting trip involved a dog. I was being driven around Marten Falls when, at an intersection, a beautiful husky hopped onto the snow-covered flatbed of the Chief’s pickup. I was thinking that it surely must be his dog, but as the husky hopped off, the Chief told me it wasn’t. It was simply an extremely smart “rez dog” who wanted a ride uphill.

Read the full story today.

- Niall

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Marten Falls First Nation, shown here in December.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

What else you missed

Opinion and analysis

Charles DeLand: Has Ottawa destroyed its own carbon tax? Canada needs a climate Plan B

Kelly Cryderman: Ottawa has itself to blame for Saskatchewan’s outlawish threats

Ashley Nunes: Dear Ottawa, mandating electric-vehicle sales is a bad idea

Heather Exner-Pirot: Of all top-heavy Liberal climate policies, electric-vehicles mandate is the worst

Mark Zacharias: Canada must stop treating its Big Oil as some sacred cow

David Cassels: Donate now, our stray apparel? This year, let’s resolve to stop sending second-hand clothing to Africa

Grant Bishop: Federal oil and gas emissions cap is dangerous both economically and constitutionally

Green Investing

Auto industry wins concessions on hybrid vehicles under Canada’s zero-emissions regulations

Ottawa has tweaked its planned system of credits for plug-in hybrid vehicles in new electric vehicle regulations, after a year of consultations during which the automobile industry raised concerns about the lack of charging infrastructure in parts of the country.

But the ultimate goal of the regulations – to ensure that 100 per cent of light-duty vehicles for sale in Canada will be zero-emissions vehicles by 2035 – remains the same, with the federal government saying its new standard will result in cleaner air and access to more affordable cars, while auto industry groups raise concerns about costs and access to charging.

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.

Photo of the week

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Diane Cook bathes a European hedgehog at Prickly Pigs Hedgehog Rescue in Otley, England, on Jan. 3, 2024. Such rescues are becoming increasingly busy, as climate change is leading hedgehogs to come out of hibernation early.MOLLY DARLINGTON/Reuters

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