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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
Still haven’t signed up for The Globe’s podcast? Catch up on The Decibel as Emma Graney, The Globe’s energy reporter, gives listeners a primer on hydrogen: the different ways it’s made, how it plays into governments’ net-zero-emission goals and why Canada thinks it could become a world leader in this growing energy sector.
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- From the oil patch to the pea field: One executive’s mission to bring plant-based protein to Alberta started with a dangerous bump in the head
- Two Calgary-based energy companies plan to develop a new carbon transportation and sequestration system in Alberta, which they say will form the backbone of the province’s carbon capture utilization and storage industry.
- Making buildings bird friendly: New measures at Toronto’s TD Centre aim to reduce bird-building collisions after years of complaints from activists
A note from The Narwhal: From threats to the Greenbelt to rollbacks of environmental laws, The Narwhal kept hearing that Ontario needs more investigative journalism about the natural world. As a non-profit online magazine, they are giddy to grow beyond their western roots and bring reader-funded, visually stunning journalism to Ontario.
A deeper dive
The future of coal mining under a microscope
In this past week, three big decisions on coal mining may have changed the future of the industry.
Ottawa announced two significant policy shifts. First: restricting thermal coal mine projects, citing “unacceptable” environmental impacts. Second: Assessing all new and expanded projects over water contamination concerns.
Then third, on June 17 a joint federal-provincial regulatory panel rejected the proposed Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta.
And while governments won’t speculate on what the decisions mean for the future of coal, environmental groups say they reflect a much-needed global shift away from two types of mines.
- Thermal coal is burned to generate electricity. One example was the Vista coal mine expansion in Alberta which was so vast that it was subjected to a federal environmental assessment. They wanted to more than double the mine’s output. Canada has been something of a cheerleader in the international push to phase out thermal coal, but it doesn’t mean the federal government is outright banning new or expanded thermal-coal mines.
- Metallurgical coal is used in steelmaking, such as the recently rejected in the Grassy Mountain coal mine. A joint review by the Alberta Energy Regulator and the federal Impact Assessment Agency found the project would likely result in significant adverse effects on the environment and on some First Nations.
Also remember: a historic $60-million penalty to Teck Coal, the largest Fisheries Act penalty ever for the subsidiary. The submission stated it contaminated waterways in southeastern B.C.’s Elk Valley.
Ottawa’s shift comes shortly after G7 world leaders gather in Britain to address global challenges, including climate change. And recent surveys show that Albertans are mostly concerned about the environment in coal mining decisions.
But with a slip in the markets and the prospect of tougher restrictions, all this is to say that the future’s looking bleak for coal in Alberta and around the world, and it may be another component in forcing a move to renewable energy.
What else you missed
- Dog owners in Nova Scotia should be on the lookout for blue-green algae in lakes and ponds this summer after two dogs died following a potential exposure to the bacteria, a veterinarian at the clinic that treated the fatally ill animals said.
- Opponents of old-growth logging on southern Vancouver Island say they will stage a hunger strike in Vancouver until they can meet with British Columbia Premier John Horgan and Jonathan Wilkinson, the federal environment and climate change minister.
- The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed state regulators’ key approvals of Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project, in a dispute that drew over 1,000 protesters to northern Minnesota last week.
- A new study by researchers at the University of Toronto raises concerns that some all-day makeup looks could pose lasting harms to personal health and the environment.
- Western heat wave threatens health in vulnerable communities. The record-breaking temperatures last week are a weather emergency, scientists and healthcare experts say, with heat responsible for more deaths in the U.S. than all other natural disasters combined.
Opinion and analysis
Doug Saunders: Can you end global warming while getting richer? Yes – just not in Canada
From Jeff Jones: ARC Financial Corp., stalwart funder of Canada’s oil patch, is expanding its investment strategy to include companies gearing up for the transition to a net-zero economy. The Calgary-based private-equity firm has secured the approval of its investors to seek out companies in a range of fields, from carbon capture, utilization and storage to biofuels, renewables and providers of construction and maintenance services for the sector.
From Globe advisor: Compelling environmentally focused stock picks for an ESG world
From the news: Musk says Tesla will accept bitcoins again when miners use more renewable energy
Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Emily Chan working at the intersection of law and media.
My name is Emily Chan. I’m 27 years old and grateful to live on Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territory, also known as Vancouver. I am a writer, communications specialist and future law student.
I have always used my writing to fight for what I think is important. I worked as a journalist before joining Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental law charity, five years ago.
My work at Ecojustice put me at the intersection of law, media and communications. I loved working with lawyers and reporters to amplify significant issues, including cases about Trans Mountain, the Alberta Inquiry and a landmark youth climate lawsuit.
I’ve learned the law can be a powerful tool for building the type of future I envision: A safe climate, recognition of Indigenous rights, thriving communities and healthy ecosystems. Working at Ecojustice also taught me that, sometimes, you have to understand a system in order to change it. With these lessons in mind, I’m excited to start law school in September.
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
- Alberta’s renewal begins with the end of Keystone
- How can nature repair the planet?
- Oil, political connections, protests and elephants
- Behind the story of thwarted efforts to help steelhead trout