Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
Also, welcome to the first official days of summer.
If the pandemic has gotten in the way of your plans, as provinces are easing restrictions, you might be able to do more soon depending where you live. The environment minister said that Canadians who have campground reservations in some national parks will be allowed to pitch their tents and pull in their trailers starting this week.
When going outdoors, keep in mind that beyond the concerns of how sunscreen may negatively impact our bodies is its influence on fragile ecosystems. There’s also evidence that the chemical ingredients enter waterways and marine life. Here’s a list of sunscreen to consider using.
Another consideration when making your summer plans is to look at how hotels are adapting to coronavirus safety guidelines, and checking to see if they are still being sustainable at the same time.
Now, let’s catch you up on the news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- The International Energy Agency, in partnership with the International Monetary Fund, says that governments should use their pandemic economic recovery plans to usher in a new era of declining greenhouse gas emissions. Their joint report is meant to be a guide for governments to integrate clean energy policies into upcoming decisions, writes Emma Graney.
- In the first large-scale survey of its kind in the region, researchers found that Canada’s Arctic waters are widely contaminated by microplastics. Samples were taken from more than 30 locations across the eastern Arctic and Hudson Bay. Microplastics were detected nearly everywhere they looked, Ivan Semeniuk spoke to researchers to tell the story.
- “BP might be greenwashing itself again by pledging to embrace a net-zero future, to the point that it is writing off huge chunks of value in its hydrocarbon business,” writes Eric Reguly in a column calling on the oil company’s career BP insider to make changes soon. “If he doesn’t, BP will remain part of the climate problem, not the solution,” he wrote.
A deeper dive
Carbon capture and storage: The dreams and setbacks in climate action
Brent Jang is a reporter in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau and a member of The Globe’s environment team. For this week’s deeper dive, he talks about the challenges ahead for carbon capture and storage (CCS).
The buzz over carbon capture and storage has diminished in Western Canada in recent years, but hope springs eternal for CCS even as challenges linger over the costly technology.
The Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, which has eight member companies, is among the advocates for CCS. So far, only four large-scale CCS projects have been built in Canada, with two in Alberta and two in Saskatchewan.
There are 19 large-scale CCS facilities worldwide, four under construction and 28 in the development phase, according to the Global CCS Institute.
A wide range of companies are researching CCS with the aim of commercial applications, including Svante Inc. and Carbon Engineering Ltd., both based in British Columbia.
Greenpeace believes the emphasis should be on renewable energy instead of CCS projects, criticizing ventures that not only sequester carbon dioxide but also use the CO2 to coax oil out of the ground in aging reservoirs – perpetuating the use of fossil fuels.
Academics and industry experts say they want to go beyond “either-or thinking” about the prospects for growth in carbon-removal projects, and remain hopeful that sequestering CO2 might play a meaningful role during the transition to a low-carbon economy.
What else you missed
- Climate change tied to pregnancy risks, affecting Black mothers most: The research adds to a growing body of evidence that minorities bear a disproportionate share of the danger from pollution and global warming.
- No-stopping zone on Trans-Canada Highway to protect bears: Parks Canada has put in the 10-kilometre zone to protect several bears – including a rare white grizzly – that are feeding along the highway.
- Calgary to move ahead with light-rail transport: The much-debated Green Line light-rail project will go ahead after previous opponents say they got financial safeguards.
- Millions of U.S. abandoned oil wells are leaking methane: Leaks from abandoned wells have long been recognized as an environmental problem, a health hazard and a public nuisance.
- Vatican says efforts to combat climate change will go forward without U.S.: The Holy See’s foreign minister insisted that “humanity will not be blown off course” by any one player’s decision.
- Vanguard names names and backs some calls for climate steps: The world’s largest mutual fund manager backed shareholder resolutions for shippers United Parcel Service Inc and J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc and oil driller Ovintiv Inc to limit their climate-warming emissions.
Opinion and analysis
Canada’s flooding crisis is spilling over our shores. Only urgent action can dam the breach
Thomas Axworthy and John Pomeroy: On top of all the other crises we’re dealing with right now, our climate and water crisis has long been neglected. A new Canada Water Agency is urgently required to shore up our defences.
The UN keeps snubbing Canada’s international policy. When will we hear its message?
Bruno Charbonneau and Christian Leuprecht: “A ‘values-based’ foreign policy may resonate with Canadians, but it erodes Canada’s standing in the world. Less bravado and more substance is needed on existential challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change.”
Here’s what readers had to say
- Stephanie Saines wrote: And this is why H hasn’t yet ‘caught on’. It’s problematic in so many ways, not least being cost.
- Steve2014 wrote: Finally! By using hydrogen we can reduce the number of heavy batteries in a vehicle.
- Speakfreely wrote: Good to hear that Alberta is looking at ways to diversify its economy.
“Hydrogen is so hot right now,” wrote climate change columnist Adam Radwanski this week. “The chemical element seems to have the magical power to unite disparate Canadian interests in common purpose.”
“It’s easy to see why. Hydrogen appears to be emerging as a key component of global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially through fuel-cell technology replacing diesel to power large-freight transport, as well as helping clean up industrial processes and energy generation,” he wrote.
“But if hydrogen’s success as a domestic industry were a sure thing, governments wouldn’t need to step in to the extent that they’re considering doing so, with public investment in related infrastructure. The push for government support, by an emerging hydrogen lobby, reflects risk – in a long-term bet on a product not yet widely adopted despite past waves of excitement – that the private sector won’t accept on its own.”
Each week The Globe will profile a young person making a difference in Canada. This week we’re highlighting the work of Meg Linklater doing ocean conservation work.
My name is Meg Linklater. I am 17 years old and live in the beautiful Town of St Marys, Ont. For years, I have been protesting and educating people on Ocean Conservation and on the Shark Fin trade. Rob Stewart and his documentary “Sharkwater” inspired me. You can watch the video of my protest here.
Canada re-banned the sale and import of shark fin in June 2019.
I have found the most powerful tool for creating change is educating people. Education inspires a voice inside you, compelling you to make a change. Everyone has the power to change the world, stand up for what they believe in, whether it’s climate change, pollution or ocean acidification, but change starts with one educated mind. From there, a chain reaction of inspiration & impact will change the earth for the better. Will change start with you?
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
Guide 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.