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

Thank you for subscribing and reading our work for another year! This will be our last newsletter for 2023; we will resume publishing in January 2024.

While we’re off, please let us know what you liked – as well as any topics that you want us to explore further in the new year. E-mail us at to let us know your thoughts and hopes, and we’ll work to make them come true.

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

Noteworthy reporting this week:

  1. Corporate emitters: Canada’s largest emitters commit to better disclosure, but none has backed up targets with spending
  2. Canadian Climate Institute: Review shows Canada within striking distance of climate targets – if Ottawa moves faster to put promised policies in place
  3. Wildfires: How a B.C. plan to fight fire with fire went awry – and may have made one of them worse
  4. The water crisis: Alberta may cap water for oil and gas companies, meanwhile drought conditions force BC Hydro to rely on power purchases
  5. Wildlife: Diving into the mystery of Nova Scotia’s great white sharks
  6. Research: UBC creates wildfire research centre to find new ways to mitigate the risk from large fires
  7. Quebec’s energy future: Michael Sabia’s grand plan to make Quebec a green-energy powerhouse
  8. Energy: Alberta poised for largest addition of natural gas-fired power to province’s grid in a single year
  9. Investigation from The Narwhal: B.C. officials said Coastal GasLink pipeline plans could withstand ‘extreme weather conditions.’ Then the heat came

A deeper dive

At the world’s climate conference, optimism and skepticism exist at the same time

Rachel Parent was a youth delegate at COP28 in Dubai

My hotel room looked out at a hazy view of the largest oil refinery in the world.

All week, I stared at the vast industrial expanse, rehashing the immense ironies of flying to a climate conference and questioning whether they ever really spark change.

After attending COP28 in Dubai, this is what I learnt: A duality of truths exists.

While many amazing groups are trying to shift the needle on environmental protections, the eventual outcomes of these conferences are highly influenced by those with access to the decision-making spaces. All too often these spaces are hijacked by bad actors.

More than 2,400 fossil fuel lobbyists registered, a number larger than any country’s delegation. One report even found that 35 members of the Canadian delegation were connected to the fossil fuel industry.

The focus on food-systems reform in the conference program also attracted big players, such as agriculture companies Bayer, Syngenta, Cargill and JBS to name a few.

Greenwashing was on full display. Some of the most destructive food companies sponsored sustainable agriculture pavilions, even though industrial agriculture represents up to a third of greenhouse-gas emissions. It is also largely responsible for soil degradation, pollinator deaths, health decline, global deforestation, displacement of Indigenous peoples, heavy fossil fuel use and water pollution.

Regardless, there were still reasons to be optimistic. At previous climate conferences, destructive food systems were left out of the conversation. This year’s focus on nature-based carbon solutions brought to light the importance of transitioning to organic regenerative agriculture. This type of farming sequesters more atmospheric carbon and protects soil, one of the greatest carbon sinks we have.

Despite my initial skepticism, COP28 created an opportunity to have radically honest discussions. I found myself talking about potential NGO collaborations and interviewing musician Nile Rodgers about his work with the We Are Family Foundation. I spoke on stage about the issues of industrial agriculture, transitioning to regenerative systems and the dangers of introducing genetically engineered tree plantations into Brazilian ecosystems in the name of carbon offsetting.

Of course, conferences such as COP28 are far from perfect. Even with the “historic” agreements made there, the world won’t shift overnight.

Real change doesn’t necessarily happen behind closed doors, either. Some leaders propose solutions that are simply too far removed from the average human experience or need. Others keep actual issues affecting communities at the forefront. Fostering a platform for grounded discussions is where hope lies.

While it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the state of our Earth, to succumb to despair is to give up on our communities, the possibility of a better future and on the planet itself. I refuse to do that.

Our natural world and our own lives are worth standing up for.

Open this photo in gallery:

COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber attends the plenary, after a draft of a negotiation deal was released, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai.AMR ALFIKY/Reuters

More from COP28

A historic deal was struck at COP28 to move away from fossil fuels. Representatives from nearly 200 countries agreed at the summit to begin reducing global consumption of fossil fuels to avert the worst of climate change, signalling the eventual end of the oil age. The decision was made in overtime after days of sharp disagreements between countries.

“After COP28, governments, companies, investors need to tell the people around the world what actions they are taking to move the world away from fossil fuels,” said Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency.

But still some wonder, will countries keep their word? History may provide some insight into that question.

From The Globe:

Analysis: COP28 raises the bar for climate action – but just how much depends where you look

Opinion: Fuel subsidies: They have to go if COP28′s call for a transition away from fossil fuels is to gain momentum

Opinion: What we must take away from COP28: the need to protect houses from extreme weather

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Steven Guilbeault, Canada's Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, addresses the media on the day of the COP28 draft deal negotiations in Dubai on Dec. 12, 2023. REUTERS/Amr AlfikyAMR ALFIKY/Reuters

What else you missed

Opinion and analysis

Timothy N.J. Antoine: Amid the climate crisis, Canada must do more to help developing economies

Kelly Cryderman: Canadians aren’t crazy to think that carbon pricing is hurting their pocketbooks

Eric Reguly: Westbridge Renewable closes deal to sell first of five solar-power projects in Alberta to Greek industrial giant Mytilineos

Adam Shoalts: We must save wild spaces in Canada’s south – not just for wildlife, but for us

Li Robbins: They own horses, don’t they? On animal rights and a complicated creature

Green Investing

Open this photo in gallery:

Fred Lalonde, chief executive officer of Hopper, is Report on Business Magazine's Innovator of the Year for 2023.Daniel Ehrenworth/The Globe and Mail

Innovator of the Year: Hopper’s Fred Lalonde went from hacker to tech titan

Fred Lalonde’s Hopper app is now the third-largest online travel agency in North America. It has built its business by using artificial intelligence to leverage trillions of data points, creating an app geared to Gen Z travellers. It first gained traction by advising travellers not to buy – instead allowing them to track prices on desired routes and sending them updates until prices had fallen to optimal levels. The app has been downloaded 100 million times.

Then there’s Lalonde’s side hustle: trying to save the planet. In September 2022 he launched Deep Sky, a climate-tech startup that’s hoping to capture carbon and store it underground. Several of Hopper’s investors have also bankrolled Deep Sky, and Hopper director Damien Steel quit his post running OMERS Ventures to lead it.

Photo of the week

Open this photo in gallery:

Surfers in Guethary, France, gather on Dec. 17, 2023, to protest against the development of an Olympic surfing venue in Polynesia. The demonstration, called by the "Rame pour ta planete" collective, also called for the preservation the Teahupoʻo site's coral reef.GAIZKA IROZ/Getty Images

Guides and Explainers

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