Last week, we told you how the normal way of doing science in the Arctic has been completely upended and has led to researchers relying more on Indigenous partners to continue their work.
This week, we’re talking to Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister, who says he’s in talks with U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette about finding a way forward with the contentious Keystone XL pipeline project.
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- Without changes to greenhouse gas emission levels, “it is highly likely that we’ll lose every polar bear population in the world before the end of the century,” said Peter Molnar, a researcher in global change ecology at the University of Toronto and lead author of a new study that tracks the bears’ fate. Only one of 19 polar bear populations identified by the study has a chance at surviving a business-as-usual trajectory, Ivan Semeniuk reports.
- A pilot project blending hydrogen into the natural-gas network for homes and businesses just outside Edmonton and new technologies to produce hydrogen from the province’s plentiful natural-gas feedstocks shared in some of the $58.4-million awarded to companies through Emissions Reduction Alberta, Emma Graney reports.
- The European Union dedicated almost a third of its stimulus package to fighting climate change, though details were scant. The EU agreed that all spending must be consistent with the carbon-reduction goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. European bureau chief Eric Reguly has the story for Canadians.
- Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. is the latest domestic player to benefit from Zimmer Partners LP, a U.S. hedge fund that is paving the way for new infrastructure by making big commitments to stock sales. Algonquin had previously announced a five-year expansion strategy that called for $9.2-billion in spending on projects that include 10 wind and solar facilities in Quebec, Saskatchewan and eight U.S. states, Andrew Willis reports.
See more in photos: Polar bear populations on course to vanish
A deeper dive
Canada is working to make the Keystone XL pipeline a reality
Emma Graney is The Globe and Mail’s energy reporter, based in Calgary. For this week’s deeper dive, Emma talks pipelines and transitions with Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan.
Alberta doesn’t always see eye to eye with Ottawa on the oil and gas sector. There’s a widespread feeling here that policy-makers don’t understand the patch and that the current government has made life difficult with prescriptive regulations.
Yet federal Natural Resources Minster Seamus O’Regan told me during a recent Zoom chat from his Newfoundland home that any perception that his cabinet colleagues are anti-oil couldn’t be further from the truth.
After all, he said, his government bought the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and is doing all it can to build goodwill in the U.S. on the Keystone XL pipeline, which it is “intent” on getting done. He’s equally gung-ho about Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion project between Canada and the U.S., which is awaiting final permitting before construction can begin in Minnesota.
Whether he’s speaking at an International Energy Agency virtual summit or talking with the Young Pipeliners Association of Canada, Mr. O’Regan regularly emphasizes the need to transition to cleaner forms of energy.
But he also says that transition is inherently tied to technology and innovation in Alberta’s oil sector.
Without Alberta, he says, Canada cannot hit its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
Here’s what else you need to know
Bear that bit girl in North Vancouver ‘habituated’ to humans, officers say: The Conservation Officer Service says it expects the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve where the incident happened to remain closed for at least five days as the search continues for the animal.
Yukoners turn to farming to build self-sufficiency, market for local food: Yukon’s agriculture director, Matt Ball, said the territory of 36,000 people is a small market, but demand for local food outstrips supply and the pandemic prompted people to think about food security.
B.C. environmental group asks court to revoke government’s wolf cull permits: Pacific Wild Alliance wants a B.C. Supreme Court to declare that the province doesn’t have the authority to use a helicopter to hunt wolves.
Big tech has a big climate problem. Now, it’s being forced to clean up: Apple and Microsoft are the latest to announce new green initiatives. Tech companies are branded as big problem solvers, but lately they’re tripping over themselves to show that they are working to solve a problem they contribute to.
From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week: The EPA designated the waters of two remote beaches in Hawaii as contaminated by trash, forcing authorities to establish a daily limit for the trash at the two locations. The EPA also announced it was proposing the first U.S. emissions standards for commercial aircraft.
Rich Americans spew more carbon pollution at home than the poor: Rich Americans produce nearly 25 per cent more heat-trapping gases than poorer people at home. Scientists studied 93 million housing units to analyze how much greenhouse gas pollution is being spewed in different locations and by income.
Opinion and analysis
Could a federal recovery plan address both climate change and the ‘she-cession’?
Adam Radwanski: “But the less Ottawa is willing or able to continue spending freely, the more two of its biggest policy imperatives could come into competition with each other for the funds that will help shape the postpandemic economy.”
The pandemic triggers a rare moment of EU unity – and integration – that may not last
Eric Reguly: “The desire to siphon off ‘green’ money for other purposes may be irresistible for any leader seeking re-election. A solar farm? How about a tax cut or a nice new road instead, dear voters?”
Beckett’s bicycle: Lessons on cycling from the great dramatist
Gideon Forman: “It’s a climate-change solution, promoter of healthy air; an instrument of urban decongestion. But can we discover, in the literary works of Samuel Beckett, reasons to embrace the bicycle as a mode of transport?”
Here’s what readers had to say
Bjorn Lomborg’s essay last week on how alarmism about climate change makes it difficult for us to think smartly about solutions drove an engaging discussion among readers. Here’s some of what they had to say:
- Mark Shore: “Political scientist Bjorn Lomborg has spent the last 20 years writing error-packed books and newspaper articles where, coincidentally, virtually every error, misquote or misunderstanding falls on the side of minimizing the costs, damages and risks of anthropogenic climate change and other human activities with environmental and ecological impacts.”
- Ed Zibitinov: “Thanks to the G&M for publishing this. Lomborg and Michael Shellenberger are eminently sensible when it comes to environmental alarmism. We need to start listening to them and dismiss the shrieking Malthusians such as David Suzuki and Greta Thunberg, who currently have sole possession of the global bullhorn.”
- Gern Blansten: “The solution will be found in the same way mankind has always advanced – through invention, ingenuity and adaptation. Mankind is a wondrously adaptable species – we will find a way to survive and thrive, no matter what circumstance we are facing ... Panic-inducing headlines and political slogans about the world ‘ending’ in a dozen years are disingenuous at best and are completely unsupported by the science. The climate is changing, but it isn’t changing so fast that we can’t adapt.”
Each week The Globe will profile a young person making a difference in Canada. This week we’re highlighting the work of Keerat Dhami, whose local activism focuses on navigating climate change.
My name is Keerat Dhami and I reside in the Region of Peel. I organize communities around comprehensive climate action through the Community Climate Council and Peel Climate Café. The latter is a safe and supportive cyberspace for communities to congregate and chat about climate change and its connection to the human experience, as well as how to navigate the current climate crisis.
Additionally, I currently serve as a climate action catalyst team lead for Youth Challenge International’s Innovate MY Future program. In this half-year program, I lead a local team to design and implement a project that addresses climate change complications facing the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
Though combating climate change is a global issue that requires international agreements and accords, there is a lot that can be done at the local level and across our communities. In my opinion, the climate movement must think globally and act locally to combat climate change.
Come the fall, I will begin my final year of undergraduate studies as a specialist in environmental geography and a double minor in human geography and diaspora and transnational studies at the University of Toronto. After graduation, I aim to integrate my interests in geography and planning, as well as my enthusiasm for environmental sustainability and stewardship, to create communities resilient to climate change and environmental challenges and change.
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
Guides and Explainers
- We’ve rounded up our reporters’ content to help you learn about sustainable ways to live life at home, travel, invest and generally learn about our species at risk.
- If you like to read, here are books to help the environmentalist in you grow, as well as a downloadable e-book of Micro skills - Little Steps to Big Change.
Catch up on Globe Climate
- Arctic scientists turn to local communities for support as pandemic sidelines research
- B.C.‘s Indigenous power producers fear they’ll be short-circuited by Clean Energy Act changes
- How should Canada approach green stimulus plans? We asked architects of Obama’s strategy
- The dreams and the costs of carbon capture and storage