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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
Mushrooms are having a moment. A mushroomaissance may be upon us, some might say. They are in popular art. They are depicted in current home decor motifs. I, personally, have mushroom salt and pepper shakers on my counter at this moment. And publishers and retailers across the country can’t stop selling books about them.
Amid this ‘shroom boom,’ a book by Toronto-based artist and professor Diane Borsato is ripe for the picking. Mushrooming: The Joy of the Quiet Hunt celebrates more than 120 different kinds of the fungi through stories and art, takes a different tack than a traditional field guide. Explore more about friendly fungi today.
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- 15-minute city: Edmonton is the latest to be caught in a global conspiracy theory. Is the fear behind it is worth considering?
- Justice: Supreme Court Justice’s leave could have impact on pivotal environmental law case
- Nature: Ottawa to propose emergency order to protect northern spotted owl habitat in B.C.
- Pollution: Alberta moves to slow rollout of controversial oil wells cleanup program
- Adaptation: B.C. pours more money into natural disaster preparations
- Electrification: BC Hydro seeks to accelerate transmission project that would bolster North Coast
- Analysis from The Narwhal: Immigrants are not the reason Ontario’s Greenbelt is being developed
A deeper dive
Fossil fuels lessons from Norway
Nathan VanderKlippe is an international correspondent for The Globe. For this week’s deeper dive, he talks about his recent travels to Norway.
How, exactly, does a country do something about climate change when the production of fossil fuels is one of its core sources of wealth and employment?
Canada isn’t alone in confronting this problem. Norway is even more dependent on oil and gas for its economic well-being — and even more ambitious in its goals for emissions reductions.
I was curious whether that paradox can survive as 2030 approaches, the year by which Norway has pledged to cut emissions by 55 per cent below 1990 levels. (Canada has said it plans a 40 to 45 per cent cut of 2005 emissions.)
The answer? Yes. “We are an oil and gas producing country that is actively striving to reduce the demand for our key product,” as Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s minister of climate and the environment, told me.
That might, on its face, suggest cause to celebrate for Canadians who believe constraining oil and gas would amount to serious economic self-harm.
But if Norway is showing that the paradox can live, it’s also showing that it can only be kept alive by considerable action, much of it led by government. Norway’s oil and gas industry is already among the cleanest in the world, in per-barrel emissions. It will become even cleaner through the electrification of offshore production platforms. Carbon taxes are so high that some of those emissions-reducing investments are already profitable.
Similarly, nearly 80 per cent of vehicles sold in Norway last year were battery-powered, after a years-long effort that has involved massive tax breaks and other incentives for electric vehicles. By 2025, Norway will require all new cars sold to be zero-emission. That’s well ahead of Canada’s plan to hit that target by 2035.
The change on Norway’s roads is tangible as far north as Finnmark, the northern region that is hundreds of kilometres above the Arctic Circle. Even here, where temperatures routinely dip toward -30 C, the Volkswagen dealer in the town of Kirkenes sold almost no gas and diesel-powered cars last year. Yngve Labaha, who runs the dealership, told me he can’t think of better proof of electric cars’ viability in the cold than those sales numbers.
Some locals hate the idea of giving up diesel power. But car buyers, Mr. Labaha said, began to change when they felt confident in local charging networks and their ability to buy models with all-wheel-drive and towing capacity.
The coming years hold minefields for Norway, particularly when it comes to securing more power supplies and apportioning a rapidly waning hydroelectric surplus. Does it make sense to deliver clean electrons to oil and gas over other industries? And how hard will it be for the country to generate new electricity when Greta Thunberg has, this week, joined protests against onshore wind turbines opposed by reindeer herders?
Still, Norway’s experience suggests what is possible for a northern country dependent on oil and gas.
But it also raises some pointed questions for Canada — not about what can be achieved, but about what is being done to spur action that goes beyond talking points.
What else you missed
- Ontario explores possibility of new, large-scale nuclear plants
- Dow said it would recycle these donated shoes. Instead, they were found for sale in Indonesia
- Tesla fans hope to hear Elon Musk’s plan for a more affordable electric vehicle
- B.C. study links killer whale decline to lack of energy-rich fatty salmon
- Ottawa’s Rideau Canal Skateway will not open this season
- France seeks pro-nuclear alliance for EU energy talks
- Ukraine war shook up markets, but much stays the same for Canadian oil and gas
Opinion and analysis
Joe Gilchrist, Bob Gray, Layne Clarke: Time for B.C. to fight fire with fire
Catherine McKenna: Companies need to stop greenwashing and get serious with net-zero pledges
Willem Klumpenhouwer: No, electric cars are not the magic pill to save us from climate change
Toon Dreessen: Canada’s building codes and standards need to get with the times
Why responsible investors need to dig deeper than just emissions
Thinking only about emissions it isn’t as straightforward as it seems, and it can leave out other important aspects of the sustainable investing framework. Numerous factors can support or detract from a company’s sustainability profile.
Think for example, of the indirect emissions created by the production of the energy that an organization buys. Or the indirect emissions produced by suppliers and by customers when they use a company’s products. Those are substantial and far trickier for companies to measure. Read the full story to see what else might need to be considered.
Streetwise: Dominique Barker leaves CIBC to become chief financial officer of Lithium Royalty Corp.
Personal finance: Public EV charging options are banking on people buying a sandwich while they wait
Careers newsletter: Lessons from an Indigenous business leader about sustainability in a world of greenwashing
Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Elaina Cox amplifying Indigenous-led conservation.
Hello! My name is Elaina Cox, I am a 23-year-old Masters student at the University of Waterloo on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. I am currently completing my thesis regarding how Indigenous conservation can be utilized by Canada while working full-time at Parks Canada’s National Office on the Indigenous Stewardship and Engagement Team and assisting in the research and writing of a book on First Nations Treaties and the Sustainable Development Goals.
In high school I discovered my lineage in connection to Membertou First Nation in Nova Scotia, and since then have been on a path to self discovery as well as exploring my passion of enhancing and promoting Indigenous-led conservation. I’ve been lucky to work, study and volunteer in this field already. Indigenous-led conservation areas are proven to have more positive results than non-Indigenous led conservation areas due to the tenacity and knowledge that comes with Indigenous guardians, while also providing economic and autonomous remunerations for local Indigenous communities.
Being young in my field can sometimes become daunting when presenting to large groups or attending major events like COP 15, however, there is nothing more rewarding than being able to enhance my aspiration of making a change while discovering my place in the world. The best advice I could give to those reading would be to discover your passions and connect them to your life. You are never too young or too old to make a difference, and no effort is ever too small.
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
- Can Canada keep up in the race to world cleantech superpower?
- The future of fusion energy
- The last ice merchant of Ecuador
- Your home isn’t built to last against extreme weather