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

If you don’t look closely enough, you might mistake them as fall foliage. But upon further inspection, you’d find millions of endangered monarch butterflies blanketing trees with their wings painting the branches brown, orange and black.

The migratory monarch population has fallen between 22 per cent and 72 per cent over the past decade. Scientists blame climate change, pesticides and illegal logging for the population decline. But this week in Mexico, the butterflies inspires hope of a comeback

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

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Monarch butterflies fly as tourists visit the Sierra Chincua butterfly sanctuary in Angangeo, Michoacan state, Mexico December 3, 2022.RAQUEL CUNHA/Reuters

Noteworthy reporting this week:

  1. Listen to The Decibel: Why this climate scientist is worried the Bahamas won’t exist in 50 years
  2. Biodiversity, and COP15: One out of every five assessed species found to be at risk in Canada. Scroll down to read more about COP15
  3. Flood management: Ontario not effectively managing urban flood risks, Auditor-General says
  4. Greenbelt: Developers who bought Ontario Greenbelt land linked to Ford government; also, Ford won’t allow homes to be built on floodplains after warning from Ottawa
  5. British Columbia’s climate goals: No new fossil fuel projects? B.C. Premier David Eby’s looming test
  6. EVs: Gas-station operator Parkland doubles plans to install rapid EV chargers in Western Canada

A deeper dive

Not all COPs are the same, this one could be important

Ivan Semeniuk is science reporter at The Globe. For this week’s deeper dive, he talks about this week’s upcoming UN Convention on Biodiversity.

You can be forgiven if you’re feeling a sense of déjà vu when you read about COP15, a major global environment meeting that’s set to begin on Tuesday.

After all, wasn’t it COP27 just last month? Why another COP? And what’s with the number?

To get the wonky part out of the way, the answer is that November’s COP27 was all about the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, the process that gave us that Paris agreement in 2015 with the target of trying to reduce carbon emissions to keep global warming under 1.5 C.

But when the climate change talks were born in 1992 so was the UN the Convention on Biodiversity, which seeks to prevent the destruction of nature for the common well-being of all. That convention also calls for regular meetings of the 196 countries who have signed on to it. This week Montreal is hosting the 15th of those gatherings.

But not all COPs are equal. This one has the potential to be historic.

The aim of the meeting is to get member states to converge on a new set of targets which, if implemented, would significantly scale up efforts to protect ecosystems and species. The document, called a “framework”, has been in draft form for four years, but there remain multiple points of disagreement which negotiators will try to overcome at the Montreal meeting.

Something similar happened in Aichi, Japan in 2010. It was the first time countries committed to setting aside a portion of the Earth’s land and water to permanently sustain nature. By the time the agreement expired a decade later, those targets were still unmet, but those involved in the process saw the benefit of having concrete, measurable and scientifically valid goals to work toward.

Proponents of conservation are pushing for the acceptance of strong new targets at the Montreal meeting, including a commitment to protect up to 30 per cent of land and territorial waters by 2030. More broadly, the idea is to put nature on a positive path toward recovery by the end of the decade in a way that lays the responsibility not just on the countries where natural assets are found, but on those whose populations have most benefited from those assets through global trade and development of resources, including genetic resources.

For those who follow the climate talks this will be a familiar theme. There’s no question that nature is under threat. The drivers of biodiversity loss, including habitat destruction, overharvesting, pollution, invasive species and — increasingly — climate change, are well documented. The question is how to mobilize global resources so that good intentions are matched by effective actions.

If negotiators succeed in Montreal they will have a document that is the equivalent of the Paris agreement for climate. In the next two weeks we’ll find out if this essential starting point for bending the curve on biodiversity loss can make the leap from dream to reality.

  • From environment reporter, Wendy Stueck: Indigenous leaders to show how their conservation efforts can shape global biodiversity agreement
  • Opinion: Indigenous-led conservation efforts could make Canada a global leader in biodiversity
  • From The Narwhal: Governments are subsidizing the destruction of nature even as they promise to protect it

What else you missed

Opinion and analysis

Leila Philip: Hot dam. Beavers could be North America’s secret weapon against the climate crisis

Jonathan Garfinkle: In Berlin, coal will keep me warm as Germany’s winter of angst sets in

Alex Bozikovic: Toronto development promises a low-carbon, high-design apartment building

Green Investing

TC Energy CEO on his company’s plan to stay resilient in the transition to low-carbon economy

François Poirier walked into a hotel ballroom last week ready to talk about the future of TC Energy Corp. But the institutional investors gathered there were far more interested in what the chief executive of one of North America’s largest energy infrastructure companies had to say about the present.

Also: Outgoing CEO Al Monaco says Enbridge is a ‘poster child’ for an orderly energy transition

Making waves

Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Samuel LeGresley doing his part to protect our watersheds.

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Samuel LeGresleyKat Om/Handout

Hey! I’m Samuel, 26, and I’m a journalism graduate from New Brunswick but have had a pronounced interest in the environment since my early years.

I knew a bit about the native plants of the Wabanaki (Acadian) Forest, located in the Maritimes. But it wasn’t until I learned about a social movement encouraging not to mow your lawn during pollinator season that I discovered how to propagate and promote the plants that birds and other animals love. This led me to where I am now, as a communications and outreach specialist for the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance, an environmental organization based around Moncton. We all live in a watershed, so protecting what flows into our rivers and promoting the life-sustaining biodiversity around us is always paramount.

There is no miracle cure to what is commonly called eco-anxiety, but I believe the best thing we can do is have an impact in our own region. Try making change at your own pace, and you might just feel more empowered and hopeful about our collective future!

- Samuel

Do you know an engaged individual? Someone who represents the real engines pursuing change in the country? Email us at to tell us about them.

Photo of the week

Open this photo in gallery:

A woman watches the eruption of the Mauna Loa volcano on December 04, 2022 near Hilo, Hawaii. For the first time in nearly 40 years, the Mauna Loa volcano, the largest active volcano in the world, has erupted.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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