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

The big news to catch up on? Canada has announced a climate plan to exceed the country’s commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030 under the Paris Agreement.

The plan covered a lot: building retrofits, a national hydrogen strategy, higher carbon taxes and planting trees.

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To make life a little easier, we put together a primer on Canada’s new climate plan which can help you better understand the ins and outs.

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


Noteworthy reporting this week:

  1. Hydro-Québec is launching energy storage system to fight climate crisis. But the battery push is built on making the province a lithium player. Will it work?
  2. Between masks, gloves and disinfectant wipes, COVID-19 has us drowning in plastic
  3. Everything you need to know about the Ford government’s changes to conservation and planning

A deeper dive

The Federal climate plan is belated, bold and brash all at the same time

This past week, the federtal Liberals released their long-promised climate plan to exceed the country’s commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030 under the Paris Agreement.

After many months of buildup, we knew that how intense the Liberals’ plan would be was partly contingent on how much controversy they’re willing to take on. The 2030 plan some believed, would test the seriousness of Liberals’ climate policy.

Then came the news: Ottawa plans to triple its carbon tax and spend more than $15-billion to pass Canada’s 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. The Supreme Court still needs to side with Ottawa when it releases its decision on the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax.

After decades of Canada missing its emissions reduction promises, the plan is belated, and bold, says Globe climate columnist Adam Radwanski.

Meanwhile, Alberta-based columnist Kelly Cryderman reminds us that for the province with an already weakened economy, the federal announcement on carbon pricing is a difficult pill to swallow.

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The oil industry and the Alberta government say Ottawa’s removal of gaseous and solid fuels from the federal Clean Fuel Standard (complicated policy to provide emissions reduction incentives and create a credits-trading market) will avoid an exodus of investment in the fossil fuel sector.

Ottawa is expected to release more details on the standard this week. Stay tuned.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau elbow bumps Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault and Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna after an announcement on the government's updated climate change plan, in the Dominion Arboretum in Ottawa, on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press


What else you missed

  • Most Canadians are in favour of electric buses. So what’s slowing down the switch? Battery-powered buses can cost roughly twice as much as a diesel bus, said Clean Energy Canada.
  • U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on every country to declare a “climate emergency” as world leaders marking the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate accord made mostly incremental pledges relative to the scale of the crisis. A U.N. report showed greenhouse gas emissions reached a new high last year.
  • A locked-down pandemic-struck world cut its carbon dioxide emissions this year by 7 %, the biggest drop ever, new preliminary figures show.
  • A new report calls for Ottawa to provide financial support to help the freight transportation industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the purchase of zero-emission vehicles and charging stations.
  • Car and industrial batteries sold in Europe will soon face legally binding environmental standards, as it seeks to give local producers an edge in a rapidly growing global market.
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada has awarded a contract that would see a permanent fishway built to help fish migrate past a massive landslide on a remote stretch of British Columbia’s Fraser River.

A salmon leaps out of a vessel being used to transport salmon up the Fraser River with a helicopter past a massive rock slide on the river near Big Bar, west of Clinton, B.C., on July 24, 2019.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press


Opinion and analysis

Bitter fights over pipelines and other Canadian projects don’t have to be the norm

JP Gladu: “First Nations, Métis and Inuit deserve to share in Canadian prosperity; indeed, they increasingly show that, as with the A2A Rail project, Indigenous communities are determined to help create economic opportunity, for themselves and all Canadians.”


Here’s what readers had to say

In a Letter to the Editor, one reader responds to Ontario’s Conservation Proposals:

(Dec. 8): I asked my children what they thought of Ontario’s kneecapping of conservation authorities. After all, they will inherit the impact of such decisions.

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They were pretty clear about their feelings. One said, “That’s stupid.” The other was interested in escaping to another planet entirely, saying, “I really don’t want to live on this Earth any more.”

We really should start listening to our children. Adults are making a mess of it.

Ron Buliung Toronto

  • Also: What did readers have to say about the new climate plan? A lot.

Making waves

Each week The Globe will profile a young person making a difference in Canada. This week we’re highlighting the work of Chanté White doing climate policy activism.

Chanté White

Handout

Hello! My name is Chanté White. I am a 28-year-old university student and climate policy activist living in Whitby, Ont.

In 2015, I went to my first Climate Reality training in Toronto. I watched and listened as experts detailed the disastrous effects of climate change. However, I never truly realized how deeply I cared until I survived a category 3 hurricane in Mexico the following year. As we walked through chest-level water to get to safety we saw floating cars and displaced children. Locals experience natural phenomena like this regularly.

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Since my trainings, I have published several articles on environmental policy for Electric City Magazine, and I collaborated with the Haliburton-Kawartha-Pine Ridge District Health Department to formulate a policy scan and suggest mitigation tactics to combat climate change. I am the lead fellow and political recruitment lead for the Peterborough hub of Future Majority, a non-partisan, non-profit, youth-led organization working to encourage young people to get out and vote, like our current campaign aimed at creating a Green + Just Recovery post-pandemic. We need the help of Canadians like you, so join us in the conversation!

- Chanté

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

People stand in front a fountain which is illuminated with green light, in Athens, Greece, on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, to mark the 5th anniversary of the Paris climate accord.

Yorgos Karahalis/The Associated Press


Guides and Explainers


Catch up on Globe Climate

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