Good afternoon, and welcome to the second part of a special edition of Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
Already there is a great economic transformation happening: Low-carbon energy solutions are being developed, investments in renewables are soaring and companies are coming clean on disclosing the risks associated with climate change. Money is moving because investors have demanded it.
The political story is changing, too. The global pandemic has revealed to the world the scale of the challenge ahead. But it has also provided an opportunity for many countries to reset and to transition to sustainable economies by investing in climate-friendly policies and doubling down on emissions.
The making of this climate issue (and by extension, this newsletter) is one way we want to drive the conversation forward. In a similar vein, The Globe and Mail is making a commitment to our subscribers for the future. The Globe now has a team of reporters across the country and around the world dedicated to covering these topics.
Now, let’s catch you up on other news. Don’t forget to read part 1 of this special edition as well.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- Climate change leaves the Rhine, Danube and Europe’s other commercial arteries in danger of running dry. Low water threatens to cut off waterways more often, and less predictably, than ever before – and the alternatives to river shipping are potentially even worse for emissions. And the economy.
- Courtesy of Ford Motor Co., Canada has a foothold in one of the world’s fastest-growing and most pivotal clean-technology sectors: electric vehicles. The question now, asks Adam Radwanski, Are governments ready for it? They need to recognize what happened this week as a starting point for the work they need to do.
- In happier news, a report offers unexpected optimism that Canada could meet its 2030 climate targets. As the feds prepare to roll out climate-related spending commitments as part of its economic recovery strategy, a report being released on Tuesday suggests that Canada’s emissions reductions targets could be achieved at a surprisingly manageable cost.
- The next question becomes, is the revamped Infrastructure Bank ready to help carry the Prime Minister’s climate agenda? Read our analysis on Trudeau’s gamble here.
Despite an avalanche of corporate reports on climate change, investors still can’t tell who’s helping and who isn’t
Canadian companies are churning out thousands of pages of disclosures each year about the environmental issues they face, including climate change. The people reading them will put billions of dollars into the ones that get it right.
But there’s a big problem: The level of disclosure and standards companies use to report on a sprawling range of issues are all over the climate map. Investors are demanding more information from companies about how their operations affect the environment. So far, companies are struggling to respond.
More on investing:
- RBC will not finance Arctic refuge drilling, puts restrictions on coal: Royal Bank of Canada will not provide direct financing for exploration or development projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska, according to a new policy that also imposes restrictions on financing for coal mining and power generation.
- Report says socially conscious data key for investors: Governments and regulators must urgently develop a common set of global principles for consistent and comparable climate-related financial disclosure, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
- Four reasons to bet on renewable energy: For investors, green means opportunity – not only in the case of traditional utilities that are boosting their exposure to renewables, but also for companies that are defined by their focus on solar, wind and hydro.
- Opinion: Investors' fears of climate risks are real. Oil and gas firms need to accept that.
A deeper dive
Red flags in the forest, but there is still time to save B.C.'s giant trees
Justine Hunter is a reporter from British Columbia. For this week’s deeper dive take a look at her recent story on the future of the province’s giant trees. Photography by Melissa Renwick.
Western red cedar is described by coastal First Nations as the tree of life.
They have become ubiquitous in the work of the Nuu-chah-nulth and other Indigenous tribes of the coast: The grain in the large, old trees runs straight, and the carved wood resists decay, making it ideal for canoes and bentwood boxes. For Joe Martin, the dying art of dugout-canoe making is an inheritance from his father that he has a duty to preserve.
Western red cedar can reach 60 metres in height but they have shallow roots and need a steady supply of moisture.
Paleobotanist Richard Hebda helped develop climate models for Western red cedar in his role as curator of botany and earth history at the Royal BC Museum. By his calculations, the regions that have supported Western red cedar will lose their foothold in the coming decades.
But an Indigenous-led plan seeks to protect them.
Even as the government is planting more trees and commitment is renewed to the restoration of nature, the work to protect the forest will take generations.
Opinion and analysis
Everyone wants to be a green lender, but banks can’t lose sight of risks
Rita Trichur: “Climate change is real, and the consequences are costly. But groupthink is hazardous for banks. Let’s hope Ottawa resists the temptation to trade climate risk for credit risk as our economy goes green.”
Climate migration isn’t a thing – but maybe we should make it one
Doug Saunders: “The fact is that people who live in highly climate-vulnerable regions, where incomes tend to be low anyway, really ought to be migrating – and countries such as Canada could use them.”
Canada needs a new breed of corporate champion, and clean energy is the place to look
Eric Reguly: “The opportunities in renewable energy are endless, from creating the technology that makes the power to launching the companies that can expand overseas, as the Danish and Italian companies have done."
The Green Revolution is coming but is overly hyped
Eric Reguly: “In the vast, emerging green portfolio of investments, some of these products will be winners, but most won’t.”
What else you missed
Number of new stranded oil, gas wells in Alberta on pace to hit 12,000, regulator says: The escalation of the number of sites with no owner underscores the dramatic downturn that has hit Alberta energy producers over the past few years.
Youth argue in lawsuit that courts must force Ottawa to take climate action: The group – 15 people between 10 and 19 from across the country – have joined an international movement of youth filing lawsuits to press for a safe climate.
B.C. Supreme Court hears petition for judicial review of Coastal GasLink certificate: Lawyers for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en were in British Columbia Supreme Court Thursday seeking an order quashing the extension of the environmental assessment certificate for a pipeline that was at the centre of countrywide protests in February.
Trump issues permit for railway to run from Alberta oil sands to Alaska ports: The Alaska-Alberta Railway Development Corporation (A2A Rail) project would move Alberta crude 2,570 km to the Alaskan coast, as well as freight in the other direction.
Let us know about the change makers in your community
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.
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 generally to learn about our species at risk.
- 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
- Special edition part 1: Fire and ice
- Is it time for Big Oil to kill itself slowly?
- A disastrous reminder of climate change
- Some of Alberta’s oil sands tailings ponds are leaking into groundwater