City and Sub-National Action: Climate Response from the Ground Up
Cities are on the front line of climate impacts. And provinces, states, and regions have a lot of say in the way practical climate solutions play out at the local level. As response to the climate crisis lags in many countries, urban and rural communities around the world are advancing climate solutions to deliver more resilient, livable communities for the citizens they serve. The patchwork performance of sub-national governments…gets complicated.
FedEx Pledges All-Electric Ground Fleet by 2040, Donates $100M to Natural Carbon Capture Centre
Federal Express is investing US$2 billion to convert its entire fleet of parcel pickup and delivery trucks to electric vehicles by 2040, and says a combination of EVs, sustainable energy, and carbon sequestration will bring its global network closer to carbon-neutral operations.
800-MW Vineyard Wind Project Off Massachusetts Coast Moves Closer to Approval
The 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind offshore wind farm is inching closer to U.S. government approval, years after an earlier project off Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts was brought down by an unusual alliance between the Kennedy and Koch families.
Groups Urge Toronto Council to Solve Its ‘Embarrassing Gas Problem’ [Sign-On]
The City of Toronto will have a chance Wednesday to deal with what one leading advocate calls its “embarrassing gas problem” when councillors vote on a motion to support a phaseout of power plants running largely on fracked gas.
BREAKING: Powering Past Coal Alliance Urges Faster Phaseout While Co-Founders Allow New Coal Mines
The global Powering Past Coal Alliance is taking sharp criticism from both sides of the Atlantic this week, with delegates gathering for a three-day online summit while the PPCA’s two founders and co-chairs, Canada and the United Kingdom, allow new coal mines to go into operation.
Windsor, Ontario Courts Investor for $2-Billion Battery Manufacturing Plant
The auto manufacturing town of Windsor, Ontario is angling for a C$2-billion investment in an electric vehicle manufacturing plant, Canada’s first, that would create 2,000 local jobs and be “truly transformative” to the local economy.
New Window Design Directs Sunshine, Indoor Light to Solar Cells
An engineering team at Rice University in Houston has come up with a new design for window glass that redirects incoming sunlight, or even indoor illumination, to solar cells that can turn it into electricity.
Siemens Exec Pitches Hydrogen for Air Travel, with a Side of Captured Carbon
A very enthusiastic Siemens Energy executive is pitching a synthetic fuel that combines captured carbon dioxide with hydrogen from solar-powered electrolysis as an alternative to the kerosene-based fuel that currently powers the aviation industry.
Coalition Urges Federal Funding to Drive Down Farm Emissions, Bring Producers Onboard for Climate Action
A new coalition of agriculture and environmental groups is calling for a two-year, C$600-million federal investment to begin reducing the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, pave the way for further improvements over time, and dial down concerns about carbon pricing and its potential impact on farm producers.
Communities in B.C.’s West Kootenays Sign on to New 100% Renewables Playbook
Building non-partisan community support for climate action that will endure through municipal election cycles is an absolute imperative to solving the climate crisis. That is the core message being delivered in the West Kootenay EcoSociety’s 2020 Climate Playbook and Toolkit.
Global Solar Installations Could Reach 209 GW This Year as BNEF Projects 13 to 50% Growth
New installations of photovoltaic solar capacity will reach 160 to 209 gigawatts (that’s up to 209 billion watts) this year, with booming activity in most markets around the world, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reported in an analysis released this week.
Canada Needs a ZEV Target This Year to Meet Climate Targets, Analyst Warns
It’s essential for Canada to deliver on a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate this year if it wants to stay true to its commitments under the Paris Agreement, Équiterre mobility analyst Andréanne Brazeau writes in a recent post for Policy Options.
City Forests Hold Promise for Significant CO2 Offsets, Study Concludes
Urban reforestation in cities in the Global South could be a cost-effective path to offsetting some part of global city emissions, according to a new study. And the researchers are calling their findings a conservative estimate, calculated with due concern for land use conflicts and other fundamental constraints.
Going All In on EV Adoption Won’t Solve America’s Car Addiction: Op-Ed
While the Biden administration’s recent pledge to replace the U.S. government’s fleet of some 650,000 vehicles with EVs is being welcomed, observers warn that simply replacing one car type with another won’t solve a deeper issue at the heart of America’s transportation fabric.
Alberta Business Council Calls for Provincial Sales Tax, Reinstated Carbon Tax
A business council with representation from virtually all the major fossil companies in Alberta is calling on the Jason Kenney government to introduce a provincial sales tax and reinstate a consumer carbon tax.
Teachers, Youth Fight Fossil Influence in U.S. Schools
The heavy influence of Big Oil in U.S. teaching materials and a lack of support for educating students about climate change has left many American children ignorant about the climate crisis and its solutions. But some teachers and youth are fighting back against the lies and condescension.
Amtrak One? With a Rail Enthusiast in the White House, Transit Advocate Eyes a Renaissance
Through a three-decade career in the U.S. Senate, President Joe Biden famously made the commute from Delaware to Washington, DC by rail, and his plans to arrive at his inauguration in a train car were only derailed by threats of Trump-instigated violence.
Now, a former customer advocate for New Jersey Transit says the new occupant of Air Force One should imagine a transition to Amtrak One.
Net-Zero Home Rides Out Edmonton Cold Snap with No Furnace Required
A net-zero home in Edmonton, Alberta stayed toasty warm this week when the polar vortex brought bitterly cold temperatures to town, enabling Darryl Zubot and his family to stay comfortable and safe—without having to turn on the furnace.
Valentine’s Day Campaign, New Research Highlight B.C. Subsidies to Top Fracking Companies
“Roses are red/Money is green/Thanks for the cheque/Glad we’re on the same team.”
That’s the tone of a series of valentines released late last week by Dogwood BC, this one addressed from fossil producer Encana (now Ovintiv) to Premier John Horgan, just days after a four-page analysis by the Wilderness Committee listed the subsidies going to the province’s top 10 fracking companies.
Fund Low-Income Building Retrofits in Upcoming Budget, Efficiency Canada Urges Ottawa [Sign-Ons]
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s 2021 budget must include funding for building energy retrofits for low-income households that can’t afford the up-front cost of a home renovation, Efficiency Canada argues in a sign-on published this week.
Big City Mayors Cheer as Trudeau Offers Permanent Federal Transit Funding
The federal Liberal government is promising cash-strapped cities billions of dollars in permanent funding for their public transit systems—though most of the money won’t start flowing until later in the decade.
Trudeau Touts Hydropower Exports as U.S. Looks to Canadian Dams for Electricity Storage
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is looking to promote hydropower exports to the United States, as one response to President Joe Biden’s commitment to decarbonize his country’s sprawling electricity grid by 2035. But analysts say Canada’s network of hydro dams might be useful as a place to store renewable power, rather than generating it.
U.S. Can Save $3.5 Trillion by Launching Climate Transition Today, Not Waiting Until 2030
The United States can save US$3.5 trillion by launching a serious greenhouse gas reduction effort now, rather than waiting until 2030—without even factoring in the public health benefits of fossil fuel reductions, or the avoided cost of climate-driven extreme weather, according to a new report by San Francisco-based Energy Innovation.
Capital Markets ‘Shift Decisively’ Out of Oil and Gas as Investors Place Their Bets on Renewables
Investors are increasingly placing their bets with renewable energy and abandoning oil and gas, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis reports, in an analysis that shows capital markets “shifting decisively towards cleaner investments”.
GM to Supply Fuel Cells for Hybrid-Electric Trucks
In about three years, Lisle, Illinois-based engine maker Navistar plans to start selling low-emission hydrogen-powered heavy trucks under a partnership with General Motors and a small distribution company called OneH2.
NS Firm Launches Latest Effort to Harness Bay of Fundy Tides
A large floating platform with six underwater turbines was launched Monday near the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, marking the latest high-tech bid to generate electricity by harnessing the bay’s powerful tides.
U.S. Cities Vastly Underreport Their Emissions, Study Concludes
A new study in the journal Nature Communications warns that most American cities are likely underreporting their greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 20%, an alarming statistic given that the world’s cities already produce the lion’s share of CO2 emissions—and many are expected to triple in size by 2030.
Wyoming Citizens Divided on Economic Shift from Fossil to Renewables
As the low-carbon transition takes hold, fossil-producing Wyoming is at a crossroads. The windy state is grasping at the potential to invest big in renewable power—but old habits die hard, and uncertainty about wind’s ability to deliver has many citizens fearing change.
New Campaign Presses RBC, Other Canadian Banks to Drop Fossil Investments [How-to Guide]
A series of socially-distanced demonstrations across Canada last Friday kicked off a national campaign to press the Royal Bank of Canada and other big banks to stop investing in fossil fuel projects and respect Indigenous rights.
A circular economy approach to auto manufacturing could cut the sector’s per-passenger life cycle carbon emissions by 75% and its “non-circular” resource consumption 80% while driving “transformative solutions for the automotive industry,” write two consultants from Accenture and one executive from the World Economic Forum in a recent post for the WEF blog.
Finnish City of Oulu Shows How Winter Cycling Can Rule
Though the blame for Canada’s dearth of winter cyclists is typically placed on weather, it is the lack of dedicated—and snow-cleared—bike routes that keeps people tethered to their cars and public transit, according to a video that profiles the 200,000-strong city of Oulu, Finland as Exhibit A for how to make winter cycling work.
GM Pledges to Phase Out Gasoline and Diesel Cars, SUVs by 2035
Giant U.S. automaker General Motors is declaring an end to new cars and SUVs with gasoline and diesel engines by 2035 and promising carbon-neutral operations by 2040, marking what the Washington Post calls “an historic turning point for the iconic American automobile company” and a “future full of new electric vehicles for American motorists.”
CNRL, Imperial, 11 Others Face Rating Downgrades Due to Competition from Renewables
Alberta fossils Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Imperial Oil are on a list of 13 big oil and gas companies that may face rating downgrades within weeks, and Suncor Energy was also assigned a negative outlook, after ratings agency Standard & Poors shifted its risk assessment for the entire fossil industry from “intermediate” to “moderately high”.
Biggest-Ever Global Climate Poll Reveals Overwhelming Demand for Action
The biggest climate survey ever conducted has confirmed that nearly two-thirds of people around the world see climate change as a “global emergency”—a mandate for action that is clear and unquestionable. And with the desire for change even higher among young people, it’s also clear that education has played a big role in the groundswell.
Inventors Unveil New EV Battery that Charges in Five Minutes
An electric vehicle battery that charges in just five minutes is now commercially ready—so long as EV charging systems are up to the task, say its inventors. And BP’s Advanced Mobility division is keen to make that happen.
Hydro-Québec Lands 88-MW Green Hydrogen Deal with Thyssenkrupp
Provincial utility Hydro-Québec has signed a deal with a division of Essen, Germany-based industrial conglomerate Thyssenkrupp to build one of the world’s biggest green hydrogen plants, an 88-megawatt facility in Varennes that will produce 11,100 tonnes of the product per year.
BlackRock Presses Businesses on Climate Disclosure as Campaigners Push BlackRock to Divest
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink is receiving media play for endorsing net-zero investments in his annual letter to investors, but taking fire from fossil divestment analysts who see little change in what one group calls the company’s “extremely weak coal commitment”.
BP Slashes Fossil Exploration Team from 700 to 100 as Shift to Renewables Takes Hold
Colossal fossil BP has cut its oil and gas exploration team from more than 700 geologists, engineers, and scientists to fewer than 100, as new CEO Bernard Looney begins reorganizing the company’s operations in response to the climate crisis.
‘Gas Is Over’, EU Banker Declares, Casting Pall on Ontario Teachers’ Fund’s Net-Zero Plans
A European banking executive’s declaration that “to put it mildly, gas is over” is casting a pall over what should have been a moment of triumph for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP)—the release of a new net-zero emissions plan, just a month after the fund became majority owner of Italy’s second-largest natural gas pipeline network.
EVs Surge Toward Mass Adoption as Sticker Price Falls, More Models Enter Market
Two new analyses show electric vehicles approaching a “tipping point” for mass adoption, with global sales rising 43% last year, battery costs plunging, and the number of models available in the United States expected to triple over the next three years.
Alberta, B.C. Polls Show Strong Support for Net-Zero, Low Buy-In for LNG
More than two-thirds of Albertans support a 2050 target for net-zero emissions, and six in 10 British Columbians back clean energy over liquefied natural gas (LNG) development, according to separate research released last week by the Pembina Institute and Clean Energy Canada.
After Early Momentum, Cascadia Region Loses Focus on Climate Action
Political infighting, misinformation campaigns, and serial communication failures have dashed any hopes that the Cascadia region would take the lead in the climate fight and significantly reduce its emissions by the end of last year. Now, angry young people are asking the courts to force their leaders to do a better job, and fast.
Fossils Create Less than 1% of Canadian Jobs, Making 20-Year Phaseout ‘Very Feasible’, Study Concludes
The Canadian economy has added 42 new jobs for each one it has lost in fossil fuels since 2014, and a 20-year industry phaseout would only reduce fossil employment by about 8,500 positions per year—as many as the country usually creates every 10 days—concludes economist Jim Stanford in an analysis published this week by Environmental Defence.
84% of New U.S. Generating Capacity Will Deliver Fossil-Free Electricity This Year
Wind and solar will deliver 70% of new U.S. renewable energy capacity this year, compared to only 16% expected to come from natural gas, while battery storage will vault to 11% of the total, according to new data released last week by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
‘Smart Cities’ Hype Enters the Global South, after North American Projects Fall Short
While oft-criticized in North America for promising much and delivering little, the “smart city” concept is gaining a foothold in the Global South—a troubling development for those who worry about the incursions of Big Data, or see the projects as little more than oversized gated communities.
GM Canada Announces $1-Billion Electric Van Investment in Ingersoll, Ontario
Results of a ratification vote were to be released today after GM Canada and Unifor reached a tentative deal that will see the giant automaker invest C$1 billion to build electric vans at its CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario.
Report Declares Carbon Capture and Storage a ‘Dangerous Distraction’
Anyone banking on carbon capture and storage (CCS) as the silver bullet that will allow for undisturbed continuation of the fossil fuel business had better have (extremely) deep pockets, reports Grist, citing a new study that declares the technology gobsmackingly expensive, wildly inefficient, and a dangerous form of climate-action delay.
$85 Billion in Coal Investments Leave BlackRock Open to Charges of Greenwashing
A year after BlackRock CEO Larry Fink issued a landmark investors’ letter that stressed climate risk and fossil fuel divestment, the world’s biggest asset manager is being accused of greenwashing in a report that documents US$85 billion the company still holds in the coal sector.
Mega-Shareholders Demand Real Net-Zero Action from HSBC
A bloc of HSBC shareholders have filed a resolution urging Europe’s largest bank to stop funding the fossil industry, with coal at the top of the list. Among these activist investors are the world’s largest publicly-traded hedge fund company and Europe’s largest listed asset manager.
Cities Help Build Momentum for Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty
A plan for a global fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, first introduced last year in a paper co-authored by Canadian climate campaigner Tzeporah Berman, may soon get a boost from three major cities in the United States and Spain.
Desjardins Unfriends Coal, Rockefeller Drops Fossil Investments in Year-End Announcements
Two high-profile North American investors closed out 2020 with pledges to reduce the carbon footprint of their portfolios, with Lévis, Quebec-based Desjardins Group promising to drop most of its coal investments and the storied Rockefeller Foundation saying it will purge its US$5-billion endowment of fossil fuel holdings.
Vancity Sets 2040 Net-Zero Target for Entire Lending Portfolio
The Vancouver City Savings Credit Union is promising to bring its entire mortgage and loan portfolio to net-zero by 2040, 10 years ahead of the target set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as part of a five-part plan aimed at building climate action into the financial co-op’s business strategy.
Epic Failure for Trump as Fossils Show Little Interest in Alaska Refuge Oil Leases
Donald Trump sustained an epic defeat last week when a widely-criticized, eleventh-hour bid to sell oil and gas exploration leases in the ecologically fragile Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) produced only a fraction of the revenue or industry interest his administration was hoping for.
Battery Packs Hit ‘Historic Milestone’ with Record-Low Price Below $100/kWh
Lithium-ion battery pack prices dipped below the milestone of US$100 per kilowatt-hour in 2020, and the average price of batteries plummeted 89% in a decade to land at $137/kWh, according to a year-end survey released in mid-December by Bloomberg NEF, formerly Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
New East End Montreal LRT Will Be 25 to 70% Faster than Driving
Montreal’s light rail network has announced a C$10-billion expansion into the city’s perpetually underserved east end, meaning that residents will be just a minutes-long trip away from downtown once the 23 new stations and 32 kilometres of track go into service in 2029.
Lloyd’s Promises 2030 Withdrawal from Fossil Fuel Project Insurance, Draws Fire for Slow Timeline
The world’s biggest insurance network, UK-based Lloyd’s, is promising to end new investments in tar sands/oil sands, Arctic oil and gas, and coal by 2022 and stop insuring any fossil projects at all by 2030.
Two-Thirds of Canadians Want Ambitious Action on Clean Energy, Green Technology
Two-thirds of Canadians would like to see their country as either “world leading” or “among the most ambitious” in the shift to clean energy and clean technology, according to the latest in a series of surveys conducted by Clean Energy Canada and Abacus Data.
Paris Agreement Pushes Low-Carbon Solutions to Mass-Market Appeal This Decade, Analysts Conclude
While global greenhouse gas emissions have risen from 53 to 55 billion tonnes per year since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, low-carbon solutions are poised for mass-market appeal in sectors representing 70% of emissions by 2030, creating more than 35 million net new jobs along the way, according to an analysis released last week by SYSTEMIQ.
In its just-released 10-year climate plan, the city of Montreal is vowing to cut emissions by 55% from 1990 levels by 2030. Environmental groups like Équiterre are praising the plan as a “very pragmatic and serious” effort grounded in the realities of climate science.
Tar Sands/Oil Sands, Fracking First to Go as NY Pension Fund Pledges Fossil Divestment by 2040
New York State’s pension has announced plans to drop the “riskiest” oil and gas stocks from its massive investment portfolio by 2025 and fully divest by 2040, making it the first U.S. state and the biggest pension fund in the world to make such a commitment.
Shell Faces Wave of Resignations as Execs Question Commitment to Carbon Reduction Plan
Royal Dutch Shell is facing a wave of resignations among clean energy executives who’ve become disillusioned with the colossal fossil’s highly-touted carbon reduction plan, just weeks before a major strategy review due to be released in February.
Opinion: For Ottawa, Delayed Climate Action Could Mean Relying on ‘Expensive, Unproven’ Carbon Capture Technologies
Last month, the federal government released its long awaited plan to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Bill C-12, if passed, commits Canada to “binding” targets every five years as of 2030 with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
Ontario Making Little or No Progress on GHG Reduction Strategy, New Report Concludes
The Doug Ford government in Ontario has made little or no progress on key elements of its 2030 climate action plan, putting the province’s greenhouse gas emissions on track to increase rather than falling, Environmental Defence warns in a new report this week.
As an Oil Un-Building Looms, Newfoundlanders Ask: What Next, and Who Pays?
With 5,200 direct jobs lost in the fossil sector since March, the government of Newfoundland is beginning to talk, tentatively, about reinventing itself as a green energy leader. Also on the horizon: finding answers to the murky question of who will pay to decommission the fossil infrastructure left behind.
Ottawa’s Greening of Government Plan Foresees Building Retrofits, 80% Hybrid/Electric Fleet by 2030
Building retrofits, more telecommuting, and a fleet consisting of 80% hybrid and electric vehicles by 2030 are among the highlights of a greening of government strategy unveiled yesterday by Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos.
Opinion: An Affordable, Reliable, Sustainable Electricity Future for Atlantic Canada is Renewable
Wind and solar are the cheapest forms of electricity on Earth, far cheaper than coal, nuclear, or natural gas. When paired with energy storage technologies and regional hydropower networks, they can deliver reliable power while reducing utility bills for ratepayers who most need the savings, say the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and the Ecology Action Centre.
Downtown Vancouver Congestion Pricing Proposal Draws Mixed Reviews
Two Vancouver policy experts are offering opposing views of the city’s proposed downtown driving congestion charge, with one saying the idea is rife with equity concerns, and the other countering that the proposal is fundamentally driven by a concern for equity itself.
In Conversation: Local Climate Action Depends on Reaching Out to a Wider Community, Moffatt Says
Scott Moffatt has been an Ottawa city councillor since 2010 and became chair of the city’s Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management in 2018. In this feature interview, he talks about what it took to get the city’s Energy Evolution decarbonization strategy adopted by a disparate group of councillors, and how to turn ideas into action.
B.C. Leads, Alberta and Ontario Imperil National Results in Efficiency Canada’s Latest Provincial Scorecard
British Columbia maintained its lead as Canada’s top jurisdiction for energy efficiency in 2019, Saskatchewan came in last for a second year running, Prince Edward Island distinguished itself as most-improved province, and program cuts in Alberta and Ontario emerged as a serious threat, as Efficiency Canada released its second annual scorecard of provincial efficiency programs.
Banff–Calgary Passenger Rail Plan Draws Mixed Reviews
A C$1-billion-plus proposal to re-establish 130 kilometres of passenger rail service between Calgary and Banff is earning serious attention from both the provincial and federal levels. But local First Nations, those anxious to protect the fragile ecology of the Bow Valley, and even the Canadian Pacific Railway itself are yet to be convinced.
Vancouver Passes $500-Million Climate Emergency Action Plan
If Vancouver’s newly-minted Climate Emergency Action Plan goes well, 2030 will find 80% of all trips within city limits occurring by foot, bike, or transit, embodied emissions in new buildings reduced by 40%, and 50% of all kilometres driven on city roads emitting zero greenhouse gases.
Midwestern U.S. Mayors Launch $60-Billion Energy Transition Blueprint
Mayors in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia recently unveiled a US$60-billion Marshall Plan for Middle America, intended to accelerate a compassionate, equitable, just, and sustainable transition away from fossil fuels.
Michigan Governor Yanks Line 5 Pipeline Easement, Citing Enbridge Violations
Citing repeated and routine refusals by Calgary-based Enbridge to address safety concerns surrounding the 6.4-kilometre Straits of Mackinac section of its Line 5 pipeline, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has terminated the easement that allowed the submarine pipeline to operate.
Quebec Green Plan Falls Far Short of 2030 Carbon Target, Analysts Say
The Quebec government may have nabbed some early headlines by tipping the centrepiece of its Green Economy Plan, a 2035 phaseout of internal combustion vehicle sales. But once the full strategy was released Monday, climate analysts and campaigners quickly concluded that it won’t meet the province’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Cities, Transit Agencies Urge Federal Investment in Expanded Networks, Zero-Emission Fleets
Transit is having a moment toward the top of the agenda for economic recovery investment requests, with both the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and a national transit consortium urging Ottawa to make it a priority for federal spending.
Quebec to Announce 2035 Phaseout for Internal Combustion Vehicle Sales
Quebec is planning to ban sales of new internal combustion cars, from compact vehicles to pick-up trucks and SUVs, as of 2035, Environment Minister Benoit Charette revealed over the weekend, in what CBC is framing as the “flagship measure” in the province’s five-year, C$6.7-billion green economy and climate plan.
San Francisco Passes Landmark Natural Gas Ban for New Buildings
The city of San Francisco will begin banning natural gas as a heating or cooking energy source for all new residential and commercial buildings—except restaurants—as of next June, adding to a prohibition already in place banning natural gas in new city-owned buildings.
Army Corps Halts Permit for Multi-Billion-Dollar Petrochemical Complex in Louisiana
Public and climate health received a two-handed boost in Louisiana last week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pressing pause on a proposed US$9.4-billion petrochemical complex, and voters rejecting an amendment that would have exempted Big Oil in perpetuity from paying property taxes.
High Schoolers in Wyoming, Appalachia Offer Starkly Contrasting Visions of a Post-Coal Economy
A recent Zoom meet-up for high school students from Wyoming and the Appalachia region was an opportunity to talk about how coal can be the foundation for flourishing post-coal communities—but only if dollars are reinvested back into those communities and the local tax base is not hollowed out.
Virtual Platforms Boost Diversity in Public Transit Planning Forums
As the COVID-19 pandemic guts public transit revenues and leaves agencies around the world struggling to keep the wheels rolling, policy experts are finding hope in the wide array of viewpoints that have at last been given a voice through virtual community transit planning forums.
Alberta Caribou Plan Allows Fossil Drilling Right Away, Delays Habitat Protections Five Years
The federal and Alberta governments have signed on to a protection plan for the province’s caribou that gives them five years to develop and implement range plans for the endangered herds, but allows fossil drilling in some of their habitats to start up right away.
Ottawa City Plan Sets Sights on Zero Emissions, 4.4 GW of New Renewables by 2050
The City of Ottawa has released a long-awaited energy transition plan that has it eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions, phasing out all fossil fuel use, shifting all heating and transportation to electricity or other zero-emission options, and adding 4.4 gigawatts of new solar and wind capacity by 2050.
Building Retrofits, Clean Transportation Lead Green Budget Coalition’s 2020 Recommendations
The Green Budget Coalition is calling on the Trudeau government to include C$10 billion for building energy retrofits, $4.8 billion for clean transportation, $4.8 billion for protected areas, and $2.6 billion for nature-based climate solutions in its 2020 budget.
New York Looks to Replace Six Gas Peaker Plants, Brings Environmental Justice Groups Into the Process
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is considering replacing six gas-fired peak power plants in the New York City area with battery storage and other advanced energy options, and promised last week to plan the transition in partnership with environmental justice groups.
Cambridge University to Drop All Fossil Investments by 2030
In what student campaigners are celebrating as a “historic victory,” Cambridge University has pledged to divest completely from fossil fuels by 2030, and to be emissions-free across its entire investment portfolio by 2038.
California Internal Combustion Vehicle Ban Will Help Automakers, Boost the Grid, RMI Says
California’s decision to ban sales of internal combustion vehicles after 2035 is good news for both automakers and the electricity grid, Rocky Mountain Institute CEO Jules Kortenhorst writes in a recent blog post.
EU’s Retrofit Revolution Could Usher in a New Architectural Movement
The “renovation wave” of energy retrofits poised to sweep the European Union has architects and policy-makers excited for the chance to create a new common aesthetic—one that just may support a less arrogant understanding of humanity’s place in the natural world.
California Bans New Internal Combustion Car Sales After 2035
The U.S. state that likes to style itself the world’s fifth-largest economy will ban all sales of new gasoline-powered cars after 2035 under an executive order signed last week by California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Alberta Surges, Ontario Fades as Canada’s Leading Jurisdiction for Wind, Solar
Alberta is set to surpass Ontario as Canada’s leading jurisdiction for utility-scale wind and solar, with 83% of the country’s new installations over the next five years, according to a new analysis by Oslo-based Rystad Energy.
Regina Researchers Urge City to Focus on Equity in Climate Planning
When you think of Regina, you might imagine a city that depends heavily on cars. But when University of Regina professor Emily Eaton gathered a focus group representing community-based organizations throughout the city to discuss how a transition to net-zero carbon emissions might affect communities that have experienced marginalization, she heard another story.
Sustainable City Investments Drive COVID-19 Recovery, Global Coalition Concludes
Municipalities are the cornerstone of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and low-carbon investments and infrastructure will deliver the jobs, resilience, and support for marginalized and vulnerable populations the Trudeau government is expected to emphasize in its Speech from the Throne next week, according to the lead author of a new report on greening the global recovery through cities.
Move Toward EVs Not Enough to Mitigate Ride-Hailing Emissions
While recent pledges by Lyft and Uber to electrify their entire Canadian fleets by 2030 are laudable, public policy is still needed to tackle the growing spike in emissions as a pandemic-wary public increasingly turns away from transit and toward ride-hailing.
Replace Pickering Nuclear Plant with Renewables, Not Gas, OCAA Urges
The impending closure of Ontario’s Pickering Nuclear Station is an opportunity to build a sustainable energy system based on sound energy efficiency programs, investment in local renewables, and hydroelectric power held in the public control—not ramped-up gas power generation, says the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.
New Jersey Unveils Plan to Become ‘Wind Turbine Capital’
Determined to be for wind energy what Texas is to fossil fuels, New Jersey has announced plans to become the go-to state for the production of offshore wind turbines, beginning with the construction of a giant port along the Delaware River.
Squamish District Declares Woodfibre LNG ‘Unwelcome’ Unless It Meets Paris Targets
The Woodfibre LNG liquefied natural gas project should be unwelcome in Squamish, British Columbia unless it can align with the greenhouse gas reduction goals in the 2015 Paris Agreement, district councillors decided earlier this month, in a hotly-debated preliminary motion adopted by a 4-3 margin.
Subnational Leadership ‘Essential’ in Climate, COVID-19 Crises
Informed, cooperative, and compassionate bipartisan leadership at all governmental levels is helping U.S. citizens weather the pandemic, just as such subnational leadership has proven to be an essential agent in the climate crisis fight.
Quebec to Double Climate Spending Through 2026, But Details Still to Follow
The Quebec government released a budget yesterday that doubles spending on climate change to C$6.2 billion over six years, beginning in 2021, using surplus power from provincial utility Hydro-Québec to drive a 37.5% emissions reduction from 1990 levels by 2030. But details of the plan are still months away, and two major environmental groups say it doesn’t go nearly far enough.
Virginia Legislation Enshrines 100% RE Target, Limits Utility Charges for Early Fossil Closures
The latest session of the Virginia state legislature ended with a flurry of activity on renewable energy, climate change, and grid renewal, including a 100% renewable energy target, one of the most ambitious energy storage targets in the United States, a carbon cap-and-trade program compatible with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and a bill aimed at putting ratepayers first as mammoth utility Dominion Energy moves to shut down high-emitting coal- and gas-fired power plants.
Ontario Climate Hawks Join City Council to Oppose Fracked Gas Pipeline Through Hamilton [Sign-On]
The City of Hamilton and Ontario climate organizations are mobilizing against a 10-kilometre pipeline that would carry fracked gas from the United States and increase the province’s reliance on carbon-heavy natural gas power plants.
Making good on its pledge to expand into clean energy while shrinking its reliance on coal, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is increasing its share of solar generation by a whopping 44% with new contracts announced earlier this month.
New Canadian Climate Institute Warns of ‘Harsh Realities’ Ahead
The new Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (CICC), an independent think tank that begins life with C$20 million in federal funding over five years, is warning of the harsh realities and global economic shifts the country will face as the climate crisis evolves.
Jurisdictions with Net Zero Plans or Aspirations Now Produce 40% of Global GDP
About 40% of the world’s economic activity, totalling US$34.6 trillion, now takes place in jurisdictions that have adopted or proposed plans to bring their carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 or before, according to analysis released last week by the UK’s Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU).
Virginia Set to Embrace Carbon-Free Energy, Join RGGI After Democrats Win Legislative Majority
Virginia is on track to accelerate its drive for carbon-free energy and join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the northeastern United States, after Democrats took control of the state legislature in off-year elections last week.
Energy Transition Plan Shows Nova Scotia Cutting Emissions 50%, Creating 15,000 Green Jobs by 2030
Supplying 90% of Nova Scotia’s electricity from renewable sources, cutting energy consumption in social housing 60%, tripling energy efficiency in the electricity sector, electrifying personal and public transportation, cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half, and creating 15,000 green jobs are the key 2030 targets in a plan for the renewal of the province’s Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, released this week by the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre.
Copenhagen Sets a Global Standard with 2025 Carbon Neutrality Goal
A vision of a “five-minute city”, restrictions on polluting cars, an awesomely effective transit system, and a shift to renewable energy are centrepieces of the effort to make bicycle-friendly Copenhagen a carbon-neutral city, a couple of decades ahead of most other leading municipalities and just a dozen years after it first set its 2025 target.
California Cuts Carbon Even Faster Than Ambitious State Mandate
California is cutting its greenhouse gas emissions even faster than state regulations require, and produced more electricity from renewable energy than from fossil fuels for the first time in 2017, according to data released earlier this month.
Quebec’s Legault Promises 40% Cut in Oil Consumption by 2030
Quebec will invest massively to cut its oil consumption 40% by 2030 and shift transportation, buildings, and businesses to electricity, Premier François Legault announced Sunday, during his party’s general council meeting in Montreal.
100 Resilient Cities Closure Shows Limits of Climate Philanthropy
In the spring of 2013, the Rockefeller Foundation—the hundred-year-old charitable organization started by Standard Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller—launched an ambitious program to help cities around the world adapt to the physical, social, and economic challenges of the 21st century. Known as 100 Resilient Cities, the initiative was designed largely to address challenges of urban population growth and the increasing threat posed by climate change.
Montreal Mayor Promises New Climate Action But Critics Call for More
Montreal’s city administration is vowing to get tougher on fossil-fueled heating and fossil company divestment, but its climate plan has already led to the defection of one borough mayor who plans to advocate for faster, deeper carbon cuts as a private citizen.
Ottawa, Toronto, Burlington, and Victoria Step Up with New Action on Climate
Four Canadian cities have stepped up their action on climate change in the last week, with Ottawa and Burlington, Ontario declaring a climate emergency, Toronto considering climate liability action against major fossil polluters, and Victoria endorsing free transit across B.C.’s Capital Regional District.
New York Passes Landmark Bill to Cut Buildings’ Carbon Emissions, Energy Use
New York City has adopted a plan to reduce carbon pollution from large buildings by 40% from 2005 levels by 2030—roughly a 26% cut from present-day emissions—with an approach that limits the cost to low-income residents and creates local jobs.
Connect Infrastructure Planning with Climate Crisis, Analysts Urge U.S. Legislators
Linking infrastructure policy with the climate crisis, introducing more low-carbon transit, and incorporating more nature in infrastructure design are all key steps in addressing the urban sprawl that is one of the underlying causes of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions.
Kingston Becomes First Ontario City to Declare Climate Emergency
Kingston has become the first Ontario community to declare a climate emergency, after city council adopted a resolution Tuesday “for the purposes of naming, framing, and deepening our commitment to protecting our economy, our ecosystems, and our community from climate change,” the Whig-Standard reports.
Green New Deal Brings Climate Transition to the Mainstream, Omits Key Issue of Urban Sprawl
With supporters hailing U.S. Democrats’ Green New Deal resolution as a breakthrough and some of its predictable opponents declaring it wildly unrealistic, a handful of analysts are pointing to an important omission in the plan unveiled last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).
Opponents Jubilant as Port of Vancouver Cancels 2015 Coal Transfer Permit
The Port of Vancouver has cut off a potential gateway for thermal coal from the United States with a decision to cancel its permit for a coal transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks, following adamant opposition from residents of Surrey and New Westminster.
Halifax Declares Climate Emergency, Aims for Net Zero Carbon Before 2050
The Halifax Regional Municipality became the third major city in Canada to declare climate change an emergency, after regional council unanimously adopted a motion yesterday that gives city staff a year to come back with an updated action plan.
Vancouver City Council Declares Climate Emergency, Seeks Faster Push to Net Zero Emissions
Vancouver City Council voted unanimously last Wednesday evening to declare a climate emergency and gave city staff 90 days to “come up with new ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and set new climate change targets,” Global News reports.
LNG Canada Megaproject Leaves Massive Emissions Gap in B.C. Climate Plan
The positive directions in British Columbia’s new climate plan will be offset by the greenhouse gas emissions from the C$40-billion LNG Canada liquefied natural gas megaproject, particularly if both phases of the project are built, data analyst Barry Saxifrage concludes in a post for National Observer.
Vipond and Keough: Alberta Can’t Win by Postponing the Transition Off Carbon
With climate change setting the house on fire (literally or metaphorically), it’s in Alberta’s best interest not to demand more lighters, Calgary emergency physician Joe Vipond and sustainable design professor Noel Keough argue in a year-end opinion piece for the Calgary Herald.
London Mayor Khan Declares Climate Emergency, Pushes Carbon Neutral Deadline from 2050 to 2030
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is declaring a climate emergency and calling for more urgent action by the UK government “to avert an ecological breakdown that he says poses an existential threat to future generations,” The Guardian reports.
Foundations, C40 Cities to Help Montreal Deliver on 2050 Carbon Neutral Target
The David Suzuki Foundation, C40 Cities, and the Trottier Family Foundation have formed a two-year partnership with Montreal to help it meet Mayor Valérie Plante’s goal of making the city carbon neutral by 2050.
B.C. Climate Plan Lays Out Rapid Shift from Fossil Energy to Electricity
Higher carbon prices and measures to shift individuals and industry off fossil fuels are key pillars of CleanBC, the new climate action plan unveiled last week by the provincial government in British Columbia.
Ontario Receives Failing Grades for Climate Plan, Misses Business Case for Environmental Commissioner’s Office
The Doug Ford government is receiving failing grades for the scantly-detailed climate plan released late last month by Environment Minister Rod Phillips, while a former senior official argues a strong business case for the Office of the Environmental Commissioner (OCE) after Team Ford decided to shut the office down.
B.C. Introduces 2040 Deadline for 100% ZEVs, but National Mandate Still Lacking
British Columbia has announced a 2040 deadline for all new cars and trucks sold in the province to be zero-emission, but the overall impact of the province’s move may be limited by the lack of a national electric vehicle mandate.
200 MNAs and Past Candidates, Massive Petition Response Press Quebec Government for Climate Action
While newly-elected Premier François Legault muses about offering “the deal of the century” to neighbouring provinces and states interested in buying some of Quebec’s surplus electricity, his Coalition Avenir Québec government is facing extraordinary pressure to deliver on an ambitious plan to tackle climate change.
Hurricane Prompts North Carolina to Set 40% Emissions Reduction Target by 2025
Prompted by the killer hurricane the temporarily turned his state into an archipelago, Governor Roy Cooper (D) signed an executive order Monday requiring North Carolina to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below 2005 levels by 2025.
Mayors Urge Faster Phaseout of Gasoline, Diesel Cars
The mayors of Paris, Copenhagen, Seoul, and Medellín are urging automakers to stop building gasoline and diesel cars as soon as possible, following a World Health Organization report that found 630 million children around the world are exposed to unsafe air.
Ford Climate Cuts Throw Away ‘Lowest-Cost Pathways’, Environmental Commissioner Warns
The Doug Ford government is on track to reverse reductions in Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) between 2005 and 2016 and throw away the lowest-cost pathways to a sustainable economy, according to the annual report published yesterday by Ontario Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe.
Brown Renews Pledge to ‘Launch Our Own Damn Satellite’ as Summit Urges Faster Climate Action
After three days of new low-carbon commitments from regional governments, cities, and industry, the Global Climate Action Summit concluded Friday with a call for governments to step up their climate ambition, and renewed pressure on California Governor Jerry Brown to suspend new fossil fuel permits and protect front-line communities in the state that hosted the landmark international event.
Flurry of Low-Carbon Announcements Marks First Day of Global Climate Action Summit
The Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco is entering its second day, with media and other observers scrambling to keep up with a cascade of carbon reduction announcements and commitments. Climate Nexus is live-blogging the news as it breaks.
California Must Go All-In on Energy Efficiency to Hit 100% Carbon-Free Target
Just a few days before Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation committing California to producing 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045, an analysis showed the state will only hit the target by going all-in on energy efficiency.
Climate Action in Cities Could Create 13.7 Million Jobs, Prevent 1.3 Million Premature Deaths
Cities around the world could create 13.7 million jobs and prevent 1.3 million premature deaths per year by 2030 by pursuing “ambitious urban climate policies” that “vastly reduce carbon emissions globally,” according to a report released over the weekend by C40 Cities, the Global Covenant of Mayors, and the NewClimate Institute.
Cities, States, Businesses Drive Down U.S. Carbon Pollution While Trump Prepares to Deregulate Methane Emissions
While the Trump administration prepares to undercut Obama-era controls on methane emissions from oil and gas operations, more than 3,000 U.S, cities, states, businesses, investors, counties, regional associations, faith communities, and post-secondary institutions are on track to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 17%—and possibly by as much as 24%, bringing the country close to meeting its promised target under the Paris Agreement.
Coal is the Challenge as Orlando, Florida Pushes Toward 100% Carbon-Free Target
From floating solar panels atop thousands of storm runoff ponds, to LED lamps on city streetlights, to algae ponds to capture and sequester carbon, the city of Orlando, Florida is pushing toward a 2050 deadline to produce all its electricity from carbon-free sources—while acknowledging that setting ambitious targets is a lot easier than meeting them.
Subnational Governments Can’t Go It Alone on Climate Action
Without renewed ambition at the national level—and most urgently by the United States—the very best efforts by cities, regional governments, and the private sector to rein in greenhouse gas emissions will be insufficient to avoid dangerous levels of atmospheric warming, according to a recent data analytics study by an international team of researchers and programmers.
Climate Solutions Promise $26 Trillion in Benefits as Global Economy Hits ‘Use It or Lose It Moment’
The “bold action” needed to address the climate crisis could deliver at least US$26 trillion in economic benefits through 2030, while producing more than 65 million low-carbon jobs, preventing 700,000 premature deaths, and generating $2.8 trillion in government revenues in that year, according to a blockbuster report issued this morning by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
California Climate Assessment Flags ‘Apocalyptic Threat’, Practical Solutions
Pointing to what Governor Jerry Brown calls an “apocalyptic threat”, a new report and call to action paints a dire picture of California’s future if the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change are not brought under control.
Dauncey: ‘Timid’ B.C. Intention Papers Do Little to Boost Climate Action
With its recently-published series of “intention papers” on clean growth, British Columbia’s government is showing too much timidity and not enough initiative to counter the fear and cynicism that have begun to accumulate in response to the climate crisis, renewable energy veteran Guy Dauncey writes, in a blog post subsequent republished by The Tyee.
19 Cities, Combined Population 130 Million, Pledge Net-Zero Carbon Buildings by 2030
Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver are three of 19 cities around the world whose mayors have promised to ensure that all new buildings in their communities are net-zero carbon by 2030—and that all their cities’ buildings, old and new, meet a net-zero standard by 2050.
Ontario Plans New ‘Regulatory Plan’ on GHGs, But Won’t Commit to Paris Targets
Ontario is planning to introduce a new “regulatory plan” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but won’t commit to a timeline or to aligning that plan with Canada’s targets under the Paris Agreement, the Globe and Mail reports.
Cities Must Act to Help Poorest, Most Vulnerable Prepare for Climate Impacts
Increasing economic opportunities, making clean energy more accessible, and making disaster preparedness a priority are the three crucial steps cities can take through an environmental justice lens to help their most vulnerable, lowest-income residents prepare for climate change, according to a recent Climate Reality Project primer published by CleanTechnica.
Mayors Plan Joint Bids for Renewables to ‘Help Power Our Cities’
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, co-chair of the 400-member Climate Mayors network, is inviting his counterparts in other U.S. cities to share their energy demand data, as a first step in pooling their requests for project cost estimates from renewable energy developers.
Wealthiest Cities Hold Key to Fast, Effective Climate Action
Researchers from Norway, Sweden, Japan, and the United States are pointing to the world’s big, affluent cities—with both huge carbon footprints, and the institutional capacity and infrastructure to shrink them rapidly—as the key to avoiding catastrophic global warming.
Quebec Bans Fracking, Restricts Fossil Drilling, But Enviros Question the Details
Quebec is moving to ban fracking for shale gas and protect 13 waterways from oil and gas exploration, CBC News reports. But major environmental groups are warning that the plan won’t offer the protection the province needs.
Ohio Energy Innovation Study Foresees 20,000 Jobs, $25 Billion in New Investment
A new energy innovation plan that emphasizes electric vehicles, solar, and energy efficiency could bring 20,000 jobs and US$25 billion in new investment to the state of Ohio, according to a report released last week.
B.C. Dodges Accountability, Action with New Climate Legislation, Pundit Charges
British Columbia’s new Climate Change Accountability Act is more like “an act to avoid it”, empowering the provincial environment minister to set sectoral emissions targets that a future minister can just as easily repeal, writes Martyn Brown, chief of staff to former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell, in a scathing analysis for The Georgia Straight.
B.C. Aims for 60% by 2040, Promises Full Climate Plan This Fall
British Columbia is committing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 40% from 2007 levels by 2030, 60% by 2040, and 80% by 2050 in legislation tabled Monday by Environment and Climate Minister George Heyman.
National Mandates, City-to-City Networking Build Stronger EU Climate Plans
Cities need a combination of national mandates to develop local action plans and opportunities to share best practices with other communities if they are to arrive at robust, forward-looking local responses to climate change, according to a new study of climate initiatives in 885 European municipalities.
Climate Report Card for Ontario Cities Reveals Need for Provincial Leadership
The Urban Climate Alliance (UCA) has released its first climate action plan report card for five Ontario cities—and results are unsatisfactory, with all struggling especially from underfunding, and all in need of support from Queen’s Park.
Everyday Consumer Goods Drive Up Cities’ Carbon Footprint by 60%
Municipal greenhouse gas emissions are 60% higher than city planners assume, after factoring in items that residents consume but are produced outside city limits, according to a study released by C40 Cities during this week’s IPCC Cities and Climate Change Science Conference in Edmonton.
2,500 Cities Back Climate Action, as Legislators from 45 States ‘Explicitly Refuse’ to Stand with Trump
With 2,500 cities around the world and politicians in 45 U.S. states onboard, the march toward implementation of the Paris agreement is continuing in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s decision to blunder his country out of the landmark global deal.
Just hours after Donald Trump sought to justify his withdrawal from the landmark global climate agreement by noting he was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced his city would shift to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2035.
World Leaders Respond, U.S. States and Cities Step Up as Trump Blunders Out of Paris Agreement
Successive waves of reaction from world leaders, U.S. states and cities, businesses, and climate analysts and activists greeted Donald Trump’s announcement Thursday afternoon that he will withdraw the United States from the landmark global climate deal that 195 countries negotiated in Paris in 2015. The overwhelming message: The rest of the world (apart from traditional U.S. allies Syria and Nicaragua) is getting on with the job of implementing the Paris agreement. U.S. states, cities, universities, and businesses will submit their own plan for meeting their country’s Paris targets. And if Trump thinks he can step away from Paris to negotiate a better deal for Americans, he’s about to crash into the harsh, intractable reality of international diplomacy.
UN Urges Business, Cities, Sub-Nationals to Step Up as U.S. Climate Commitment Fades
Businesses, cities, and sub-national governments must keep up the momentum for greenhouse gas reductions in jurisdictions where national leadership is flagging, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged last week, in a statement that made no direct mention of the United States but acknowledged that some countries are backsliding in their commitments to implement the landmark Paris agreement.
From LA to Boston, Paris to Cape Town, Cities Gear Up for Climate Action
Within minutes of a shocking U.S. election result November 9, cities were stepping up as one of the key bricks in the firewall against Donald Trump’s expected efforts to gut climate action at home and undermine carbon reduction commitments around the world.
With Trump now seated in the White House, America’s municipal leaders are gearing up to protect their own autonomy in an area of activity that is far less partisan at the local level than it has become in Washington, DC. And in a letter this morning in the Financial Times, the mayors of four of the world’s larger cities—Paris, Tokyo, Cape Town, and Sydney, Australia—are affirming their plans to continue transforming their infrastructure to combat climate change, and pointing to the benefits they expect their communities to reap as a result.
In the nearly two months since a stunning election result in the United States, cities have emerged as one of the focal points for continuing and intensifying the climate and energy action that will be needed over the next four years—across the U.S., and around the world.
U.S. Cities Rally to Deliver Climate Solutions, Ask Trump to Join In
Cities like Miami Beach, San Antonio, San Diego, Los Angeles, and New York may well be on the front lines of U.S. climate action, now that their federal government is about to be taken over by a band of climate deniers and fossil fuel enthusiasts.
Cities Can Prepare for Population Growth While Addressing Climate Change, Ottawa Councillor Says
Rapid urbanization, combined with the need to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to the impacts of climate change, will be two of the most serious challenges facing cities over the next two decades, Ottawa City Councillor Tobi Nussbaum argues in a Huffington Post article to mark the end of the United Nations Habitat conference in Quito Ecuador.
Tech Giants, Cities, and Some Utilities Line Up Behind Clean Power Plan
U.S. tech giants, municipal governments, and some utilities are all filing legal briefs in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan as the D.C. Court of Appeals prepares to hear arguments on the rule, a centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s response to climate change.
Cities could take a UK-size bite out of global emissions—in five years
A group of 40 global megacities that includes Mumbai, Mexico, New York and Lagos, released research at the Paris climate summit showing that city-level actions could reduce global greenhouse emissions by the equivalent of zeroing-out all of the United Kingdom’s CO2 releases within five years.
Time for More Canadian Cities to Think Big on Climate
To boost their influence and advance meaningful climate change solutions, more of Canada’s cities will have to start thinking big, The Energy Mix curator Mitchell Beer argued in a guest post for GreenPAC earlier this month.
Low-Carbon Cities Could Save $16.6 Trillion by 2050
Low-carbon actions by cities could generate US$16.6 trillion in savings through 2050 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.7 gigatonnes per year by 2030, according to a working paper released last week by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
20 Cities and Regions Tackle 5% of Global Emissions
Twenty of the world’s largest cities and regions representing 5% of global carbon emissions have banded together for greenhouse gas reductions of up to 90% by 2050 and 100% by 2060, the Compact of States and Regions announced last week.
Megacities on the Rise, Face Challenges with Resource Use
Cities with populations above 10 million people face unique challenges with resource use, according to a paper last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the number of megacities is likely to grow from 27 today to 37 in 2020.
Climate-Smart Policies Create Jobs, Economic Development
A new World Bank report looks at climate-smart policies in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, the United States, and the European Union that created jobs and economic development while cutting emissions. The policies fell in three areas: clean transportation, energy efficiency in industry, and energy efficiency in buildings. “At the World Bank Group, we believe it’s possible to reduce emissions and deliver jobs and economic opportunity, while also cutting health care and energy costs,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. “With careful design, the same development projects that improve communities, save lives, and increase GDP can also fight climate change,” […]
Decentralized Energy Is Critical for African Vaccine Distribution
Getting vaccines (and good health care in general) to all the people who need it depends on connecting remote and rural health centres to renewable energy. And making that happen will require multilateral cooperation, including the United States taking its “build back better” mantra to the global stage.
Transition to Electric Cars Need Not Demand a Toxic Lithium Legacy
Despite widespread assumptions, lithium and rare earth minerals like coltan—and all the environmental and social harms that attend their extraction and use—are not necessarily essential to the green energy transition, says a new book on building a climate-friendly economy.
Developers Clash with U.S. Cities on Vote for Greener Building Codes
Two years ago, sustainability-minded city planners across the United States discovered they could vote to change the national energy codes that many states adopt to set efficiency standards for larger buildings. Voting in droves, they voted deep green. Now, developers are determined to overturn the results.
New Technologies Could Cut Millions of Tonnes of Carbon, Save U.S. Utilities Billions of Dollars
Utilities in the United States could cut millions of tonnes of carbon pollution, save billions of dollars, and double their capacity for new wind and solar capacity if federal government incentives can be set up to support a suite of “grid-enhancing technologies”, the Boston-based Brattle Group concludes in a report released last month.
U.S. Wind, Solar Post Record Growth in 2020 Despite Pandemic Restrictions, Job Losses
United States solar and wind developers had a record year in 2020 despite punishing restrictions and job losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, ultimately rising to 20% of the country’s electricity production, according to new data released last week by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.
Circular Economy Leader Brings Major-Brand Refillable Grocery Packaging to Canada
A new partnership between a rising circular economy juggernaut, a supermarket giant, and some very popular food brands (think Häagen-Dazs and Heinz) is raising hopes for the viability of reusable packaging in Canada. The groundbreaking project is being met with acclaim from business sustainability experts, and cautious praise from Greenpeace.
Missouri Solar Installer Reports ‘Overwhelming’ Interest as Customers Face Rolling Blackouts
Though politicians in Texas might insist on wrongly blaming renewable energy for the devastated condition of the state’s power grid, people in northwestern Missouri know what to do. A solar company in St. Joseph, about 55 miles north of Kansas City, says its phones have been ringing off the hook as customers respond to rolling blackouts in the region and across much of the United States
California Senate Bill Would Halt New Fracking, Set 2027 ban
Citing the “existential threat” of the climate crisis, two California senators have introduced a bill that would sharply curtail fracking in the state—and eventually ban it outright. And despite the predictable backlash from fossil interests, the bill makes explicit a commitment to a just transition.
France’s New Repairability Labelling Law Boosts Fight Against Planned Obsolescence
In a global first, France has mandated that certain electronics manufacturers must let consumers know just how repairable their products are. And happy Right to Repair advocates say other nations are watching closely.
Pickering-Area Citizens Launch Blockade, ‘Shoe Strike’ to Protect Sensitive Local Wetland
Community groups and angry citizens from Pickering, Ontario are going up against what one news report calls “a billionaire and a business-friendly government” to try to stop the Lower Duffins Creek Wetland, a provincially significant local green space, wildlife habitat, and buffer against climate impacts, from being bulldozed for a massive warehouse and entertainment complex.
Indigenous Clean Energy Seeks Federal Endowment to Build ‘Decolonized Energy Future’
With nearly 200 renewable energy projects in progress, each of them generating more than a megawatt of electricity at full capacity, Indigenous Clean Energy is calling on the federal government to invest C$500 million in a “decolonized energy future” for Indigenous communities.
Science ‘Translators’ Needed to Help Investors Avoid Climate Greenwashing
Investors and their advisors may be making a dangerous mistake if they allow climate modelling to give them a false sense of certainty over the physical impacts to be expected from climate change, according to a new article in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Lookback: Ocasio-Cortez’ 2019 Video Delivers ‘a Message from the Future’
In a video first published in 2019, shortly after she first entered the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) situates herself in the future and looks back to what it took to win legislative support for a Green New Deal that became the basis for rebuilding her country and driving a just, green transition.
‘Ending Zero-Sum Green Energy Politics’ Depends on Local Solutions, Win-Win Thinking
A detailed, local pitch for jobs and economic activity will be central to the Biden administration’s push to transform the way the United States produces energy and addresses the climate crisis, writes Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, in a recent opinion piece on the pathway to “ending zero-sum green energy politics”.
Young Cartographer Unearths Massive Climate Action Potential in Catholic Church Land Holdings
A 26-year-old cartographer, environmentalist, and devout Catholic from Connecticut wants to use digital mapping software to engage the Catholic Church in the cause of environmental justice. And the Pope is impressed.
State-Led U.S. Climate Alliance Still Sees Headwinds Post-Trump
A White House led by a climate denier who was actively working to undermine global efforts to meet the targets in Paris Agreement made work hard for the 25 U.S. states that pledged to make good on their country’s promises under the 2015 deal. But even with Trump gone, progress is still being hamstrung by a tendency to equate action with electric power.
Plastic-Free Food Delivery Service Launches in San Francisco
As home grocery delivery ramps up plastic use in cities across North America, a Bay Area start-up is hoping to become the 21st century’s answer to the milk delivery company—but with a much expanded product list.
Global Energy Transition Investment Grows 9% in 2020, Hits Record $501 Billion Despite Pandemic
Global investment in the energy transition hit a record US$501.3 billion last year, posting a brisk 9% increase in spite of the severe restrictions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data released this week by BloombergNEF.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Embraces Carbon Taxes, Market-Based Climate Policies
One of the most relentless proponents of climate delay and denial is changing its tune, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announcing this week that it has “embraced tougher action to combat climate change through carbon taxes, emissions caps, or other ‘market-based’ policies,” Bloomberg News reports.
Anti-Trump Resistance Gives Rise to Bigger, Wider Climate Movement
Amid a flurry of reporting on the policy and regulatory chainsaw that Donald Trump took to environmental and climate protections during his term of office, an analysis by Grist points to the rise of an energized, empowered global climate movement as an unintended consequence of the white supremacist wannabe golf pro’s four-year reign.
Science Must Determine Climate Targets, Business Execs Insist
Forward-thinking executives are calling on their peers in the business world to listen to science in a bid to avert catastrophic global warming. That means investing in low-carbon technologies, supporting carbon pricing, and putting a stop to hollow, disingenuous actions—like making far-future net-zero pledges with no plans or accountability systems in place.
New Edmonton Liaison Unit Helps Smooth Retrofit Red Tape
Jurisdictions seeking to safely expedite permits for complex deep retrofits of multi-unit residential buildings would do well to follow the City of Edmonton’s example and establish client liaison units, says a new report.
Neither the COVID-19 pandemic nor policy uncertainty held U.S. utility-scale solar back in 2020, with a record year on track to see more than 19 gigawatts of new capacity installed—enough to power 3.6 million homes.
Citizens’ Climate Assembly Aims for ‘Biggest Global Democracy Experiment Ever’
A factory worker from India, a sheep farmer from New Zealand, and a bus driver from the UK could end up working side by side on the best approaches to solving the climate crisis, if they’re among the 1,000 people chosen at random to take part in a first-ever global citizens’ assembly leading up to next year’s United Nations climate conference in Glasgow.
Quebec E-Bus Builder Lion Electric Signs $500-Million Merger Deal, Enters NY Stock Exchange
Saint-Jérôme, Quebec-based electric bus and truck manufacturer Lion Electric announced what one industry newsletter calls a “power move on the competition” late last month, signing a US$500-million merger deal that will win it a coveted listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
Ontario and Alberta ‘Storylines’ May Determine Electric Vehicle Uptake
Policy-makers looking to expand electromobility in Canada need to understand that incumbents rooted in the old economy are powerful, self-interested, storytellers. And those who are opposed to the new player on the scene (oil) or uncertain about its impact (automotive) have lessons to learn about how to tell a tale that’s more sustainable—and no less profitable, writes post-doctoral fellow Nathan Lemphers.
Circular Economy Emerges as Key Strategy to Reduce Plastics Waste
From the United States to the United Kingdom, there are glimmers of interest in a circular economy for plastics—both to reduce waste of a long-lasting product derived from fossil fuels, and to capitalize on lucrative emerging revenue streams.
Globe Editorial Board Calls for Deep Investment in Canadian Public Transit
With Canada’s government short on specifics for how the billions in “smart investments” promised in its recent Fall Economic Statement will be spent, the Globe and Mail is calling for deep investments in public transit as a timely and just use of the funds.
Canadian Urban Couriers Test Switch from Cars to E-Bikes
In a bid to reduce both emissions and costs—especially as online shopping explodes—major parcel couriers in Toronto and Montreal are experimenting with delivery by e-bike and trike. Collateral benefits include cleaner air, safer pedestrians and cyclists, and delivery workers delighted to be out from behind the wheel.
UN Research Confirms Effectiveness of Indigenous-Led Biodiversity Protection
The critical role of Indigenous-led conservation efforts in protecting biodiversity has been gaining recognition. But now that understanding is backed up by research from the United Nations, say two Indigenous leaders from Northern Canada.
15-Minute City Groundswell Shows Desire for ‘Greener, Safer, Kinder Spaces’
From Portland to Melbourne to Paris, city planners are dreaming of—and, in some cases, creating—the “15-minute city.” But while many are rejoicing in the potential for greener, safer, kinder spaces, others warn that such visions are blind to equity issues—especially if affordable housing is lacking.
Climate-Focused Green Banks Could Spur Sustainable Cities, Just Recovery
In an effort to help cities balance climate action with pandemic recovery, C40 Cities has released a guide to establishing local green banks as an equitable, resilient, and sustainable path to achieving both goals.
UBC Climate Hub: Finding Hope, Joy, and Community in the Climate Movement
You don’t have to look far to find dispiriting news about climate change these days, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by anxiety and grief. So how can we continue educating ourselves and taking action on climate when the planet’s outlook often looks so bleak? According to some inspiring young climate leaders, one answer is community.
Vertical-Axis Wind Design Could Replace Diesel on Island Grids, Offer Quieter Turbine for Cities
A designer in South Korea has come up with a prototype for a new, 12-storey vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT) that could be located in urban areas and deliver up to four times as much power as a standard, ground-mounted wind machine.
Savings from Retrofits, Rooftop Solar Help Boost Teacher Pay at Arkansas School
If every public school in the United States went 100% solar, the resulting emissions reductions would be equal to shuttering 18 coal-fired power plants. And, as one Arkansas school district recently proved, the money saved on energy costs could translate into higher pay for teachers.
Citizens Decry Incomplete Assessment of Quebec’s Saguenay LNG Project
Environmental groups and concerned citizens are decrying the province of Quebec’s refusal to look beyond site-specific concerns in its analysis of a proposed C$9-billion natural gas liquefaction terminal on the Saguenay River.
U.S. Can’t Decarbonize Transport without Driving Less, New Analysis Warns
Transportation programs that emphasize electric vehicle use without also limiting the distances people have to drive won’t be enough to achieve rapid decarbonization, Transportation for America and Smart Growth America warn in a report issued earlier this month.
Failing to Embrace Green Recovery Will Drive ‘Catastrophic’ Climate Change, C40 Cities Warns Governments
The world’s governments can cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by 2030, create 50 million “good, sustainable jobs” by 2025, prevent 270,000 premature deaths in the next 10 years, and save US$1.4 billion in health costs by embracing a green and just recovery, the C40 Cities COVID-19 Recovery Task Force concludes in an analysis released Wednesday.
German-Designed ‘Bicycle Streets’ Flip the Car-Bike Power Dynamic
Originating in Germany and currently being tested in the Netherlands, the concept of a “bicycle street”—where cars defer to bikes, rather than the other (and expected) way around—is garnering interest in North America.
Enbridge Withdraws Controversial Bid for Hamilton-Area Gas Pipeline
Environmental campaigners are taking some of the credit after Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. announced it was withdrawing its application for a controversial, 10-kilometre gas pipeline through rural Hamilton.
Op-ed: Alberta’s Managed Coal Power Plummet a Climate ‘Success Story’
Alberta’s turn away from coal has been a “climate action success story” thanks to key policies—many unpopular—set by former premier Rachel Notley, according to a recent essay written by two Alberta economists.
Prioritize Degrowth over Electrification to Meet Paris Targets, Study Urges
A mass shift toward electric transport is not enough to bring global transportation emissions in line with the targets in the 2015 Paris Agreement, according to a new study that calls for aggressive “degrowth”— encompassing radical mobility shifts—to keep warming below 2°C.
Sacramento Utility Moves to Measure Energy Efficiency by Avoided Carbon Emissions
The publicly-owned utility in the California capital of Sacramento is shifting the focus of its energy efficiency programs by adopting a metric that emphasizes the carbon dioxide emissions the programs avoid, rather than the electricity consumption they eliminate.
The mayors of a dozen major world cities, including Berlin, Milan, and Vancouver, have pledged to divest from fossil fuels—a move that sends a shot across the bow of those still working to inhibit efforts to “build back better.”
Energy Retrofits, Green Grids, ZEVs Lead Recommendations from Resilient Recovery Task Force
A $27-billion energy retrofit program, stepped-up investment in green electricity, and building an “industrial ecosystem” for zero-emission vehicles are lead elements of a five-year, $55.4-billion green investment program released Wednesday by the 15-member Task Force for a Resilient Recovery.
In an Australian first, Sydney-based public utility AGL is launching a “Netflix for EVs”: a rather pricey subscription service, paid weekly, that offers customers access to a serviced and insured electric car, along with the home charging system they need to keep it powered.
Barry: U.S. Must Choose ‘Dignified Life’, Regenerative Economy for Citizens in Sacrifice Zones
Millions of Americans live in so-called “sacrifice zones,” where racism and rapacious economic imperatives are robbing entire communities of the fundamentals for a healthy and dignified life. That has activists calling for the creation of a regenerative economy in which communities have a direct say in the policies and decisions that affect their world.
The Battle Plan: Key Lessons from the Second World War for the Climate Mobilization (Part 1)
This is the first of two excerpts from Seth Klein’s A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, published in early September and available here. The book includes Klein’s “battle plan”, a set of key lessons for the climate mobilization from the Second World War.
Urban Green Spaces Tied to Higher IQs, Reduced Childhood Aggression
Access to urban spaces that are rich in plant life can boost the IQs of children, both rich and poor, while lowering the incidence of aggression, poor attention, and other behavioural issues, says a first-of-its-kind study out of Belgium.
Plug-In Hybrids Miss Their Carbon Targets as Owners Fail to Charge Batteries
A new study in the journal Environmental Research Letters gets at the strange and vexing question of why some car owners in the United States go to the trouble of buying plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), then rarely if ever plug them in.
Use Community Power, Grassroot Investment to Fuel Green Recovery, Energy Co-ops Urge
A group of seven renewable energy co-ops from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia is calling on the federal government to emphasize community power procurement, deep energy retrofits, and smart grid development in economic stimulus responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Bike Route Barrier Design Repurposes Scrapped Tires
A Milwaukee design team has produced an award-winning bike lane barrier made from discarded car tires. Reproducible at scale and easy to build with a few tools, the WeCLAIM barrier promises to repurpose a share of the 300 million car tires that are scrapped each year in the United States alone.
Child Health Gains Emerge as ‘Side Benefit’ from Northeastern U.S. Climate Program
Fifteen years after the launch of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a climate initiative in 10 northeastern U.S. states, researchers have discovered some critical side benefits to reducing CO2 emissions: fewer preterm births, healthier babies, fewer cases of asthma, and possibly fewer cases of autism.
Austria, Paris, and Tokyo Studies Find No Link Between Transit, COVID-19 Clusters
Several new studies from around the world have found no link between public transit and infection clusters of COVID-19. That means using transit is likely not a high-risk activity for transmission—thanks to social distancing protocols, masked riders, rigorous cleaning, and excellent ventilation systems.
B.C. Regulations to Push EVs to 30% of New Cars by 2030, 100% by 2040
Two years after announcing its zero-emission vehicle program, British Columbia has released the year-by-year regulatory targets that will help manufacturers and retailers make the shift to all-electric new car sales by 2040.
Transit in a Pandemic: Now Is the Time to Undo Neglect, Systemic Racism
As pandemic-weary Americans flee mass transit in droves and commuter-driven emissions begin to spike back up, a Black transit policy expert is urging city leaders to recognize the critical role that public transit plays in creating a world where Black lives do matter.
Details Scarce as Canada Pledges to Triple Annual Energy Efficiency Improvements
The federal government is promising to triple the pace of Canada’s energy efficiency improvements to 3% per year, and the country’s energy efficiency advocacy network, Efficiency Canada, is out with a three-point plan to get started down that path.
Famed ‘Doughnut’ Economics Framework Gets Adaptation for Cities
A new methodological guide adapts the celebrated Doughnut Economics framework for living within planetary boundaries to the urban level by answering one passionate, optimistic question: “How can our city be a home to thriving people, in a thriving place, while respecting the well-being of all people, and the health of the whole planet?”
Smart City Technologies Support Post-COVID Push for Energy Efficiency, Emission Reductions
Smart city technologies are poised to increase energy efficiency and encourage sustainable living in municipalities focused on building back better after the COVID-19 pandemic and curbing their greenhouse gas emissions, Oilprice.com reports.
Group Proposes Cargo Bikes, 21 Kilometres of New Cycling Paths, for Toronto’s Finch West Area
A non-profit in Toronto is pushing for a 21-kilometre network of off-street cycling paths between the Jane-Finch area and Rexdale, to relieve volume on Finch West’s crowded bus lines and make cargo bikes a realistic option for nearby businesses.
TTC Hangs On for Financial Relief from Ottawa’s Emergency Funding Package
The long-suffering Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is hoping to emerge as a major beneficiary of the C$19-billion emergency relief package for provinces and municipalities unveiled last week by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Working from Home, E-Commerce Produce Permanent 10% Drop in U.S. Traffic Volumes
Changes in work and shopping habits brought on by the coronavirus pandemic will produce a permanent 10% drop in traffic volumes in the United States, reducing vehicle miles travelled (VMT) by 270 billion miles per year and taking 14 million cars off the road, consultants at KPMG International reported this week.
Mayors Urge Recovery Based on Green Jobs, ‘15-Minute’ Cities
Green job creation, support for essential workers, investment in green industries, and funding for building retrofits, transit, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and “resilient public services” are cornerstones of a green and just recovery program released Wednesday by C40 Cities.
Downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland Goes Car-Free for COVID-19
Pandemic-weary residents and business owners in St. John’s, Newfoundland are getting used to a newly-refashioned pedestrian-only downtown, and many of them hoping the changes will be permanent, though accessibility advocates warn the current street closure plan is unfriendly to people with mobility issues.
Climate Resilience Efforts Must Include Local Needs, Local Wisdom, WRI Says
Less than 10% of international climate funding is currently earmarked for local efforts to build resilience. This dynamic needs to change, says the World Resources Institute, and the power of context-specific action, local leadership, and embedded knowledge can make it happen.
Ontario’s Talk of Housing Near Transit a ‘Trojan Horse’ for Rolling Back Environmental Protection
Recent announcements on transit-oriented development, affordable housing, air conditioning in long-term care homes, and even education policy are shaping up as a screen for the Ontario government’s latest attempt to scale back environmental protections and clear the way for unrestrained, decidedly unsustainable development, critics say.
Edmonton Airport Announces Plans for 120-MW Solar Farm
The Edmonton International Airport is close to signing a deal with Germany-based Alpin Sun to create a showcase renewable energy project that will see a canola field west of its runways transformed into the world’s biggest airport-based solar farm.
Ontario Plans New Housing Along Toronto-Area Transit Lines
The Ontario government is introducing legislation to support transit-oriented development, with plans to build thousands of new homes—including affordable housing—on top of or adjacent to a dozen new stations along the Greater Toronto Area’s new Ontario Line, the Scarborough subway, and the proposed Eglinton West LRT and Yonge North subway extensions.
SolarAid Raises $300,000 for Remote Clinics in Malawi and Zambia
London, UK-based international charity SolarAid has raised more than US$300,000 to supply thousands of free solar-powered devices to medical professionals fighting the coronavirus pandemic at health clinics and isolation centres in rural Malawi and Zambia.
B.C. Coastal First Nations Begin Shift from Diesel to Local Hydro
Two of the 11 off-grid and largely diesel-dependent First Nations communities along the British Columbia coast are investing C$25 million in hydro power in an effort to reduce their dependence on a fuel that is both expensive and an environmental hazard.
Declaration for Resilience Urges ‘New Normal’ for Canadian Cities
Canada’s urban planning experts, along with leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, have signed on to the 2020 Declaration for Resilience in Canadian Cities, urging policy-makers at all levels to create a “new normal” that makes affordability, sustainability, climate-friendliness, and equity the four cornerstones of any pandemic recovery plans.
Shift to Electric Buses Emerges as ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity’ for Canada
With more than 425,000 electric buses on the roads world-wide, four Canadian manufacturers with customers across the continent, and transit agencies in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Laval adding the vehicles to their fleets, there’s still time for the country to hop onboard a growing international trend, Clean Energy Canada concludes in a report issued this week.
Transit Agencies, Advocates Sort Out Safety in the Age of COVID
Despite serious concerns that fears of coronavirus infection will drive commuters out of mass transit vehicles and into their cars, there’s an emerging body of knowledge on how cities can deliver a safe commute—and evidence that some communities are keeping their transit systems free of COVID clusters.
Post-Pandemic Land Use Changes Could Cut Emissions in Urban Centres
Canadian urban planners are urging cities to implement land use changes in their post-pandemic recovery plans, arguing that bringing work and shopping closer to home can revitalize local economies while reducing emissions-heavy commutes.
Minneapolis Climate Plan Fails to Serve Black, Low-Income Neighbourhoods
What was greeted seven years ago as a groundbreaking local climate action plan in Minneapolis is now being flagged as a source of racial division in the city where the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white police officer, sparked massive protests and renewed attention to police brutality across the United States.
Student Organizers Push Salt Lake City School Board to 100% Clean Energy by 2040
The district school board in Salt Lake City will shift to 100% clean electricity by 2030 and drop all fossil fuels for heating and transportation by 2040, after a campaign led by students from the community’s three major high schools.
Venice Glimpses a Different Life as Port Cities Mark World Oceans Day [Global Virtual Rally Today]
As Venice slowly emerges from lockdown—and braces for the return of millions of tourists—locals are daring to imagine another future for their beloved City of Water, after seeing a glimpse of what life could be like without colossal cruise ships and inflated rents.
The roiling traumas of racial injustice, coronavirus, and climate change are a “veritable witch’s brew of community risk,” according to a panel of five environmental justice leaders recently brought together by Grist. The antidote? To make sure that “normal” is never the same again.
Electrifying GTHA Cars, Trucks, and Buses Would Prevent 731 Premature Deaths, Cut 8 Mt of Emissions Per Year
A shift to electric cars, SUVs, trucks, and buses would prevent 731 premature deaths per year in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and reduce the region’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by eight million tonnes, bringing Ontario half-way to meeting its 2030 carbon target, according to a modelling study released this week by Environmental Defence Canada and the Ontario Public Health Association.
Four-Day Work Week Could Boost Post-Pandemic Economy
Canadian workplace health experts are urging policy-makers to consider a condensed work week to reduce stress, increase productivity, and boost a post-coronavirus economy. A three-day weekend could also be a boon to the pandemic-ravaged tourism sector, which lost 50% of its work force this past spring.
Toronto Transit Faces 50% Service Cut Without Federal, Provincial Funding [Urgent Sign-On]
Public transit advocates have launched an emergency appeal for federal funding for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), after Mayor John Tory announced the system faces a 50% service cut without federal and provincial support.
It’s 2030. Here’s How Calgary Transformed Itself into a Cleantech Capital.
The city at the heart of the Alberta oilpatch can transform itself into a cleantech capital by the end of this decade if it makes the right decisions and brings together the needed investment now, Calgary-based environmental lawyer Jeremy Barretto argues in an opinion piece for CBC.
New York Mega-Utility Triples Energy Efficiency Budget to $1.5 Billion
New York state mega-utility Consolidated Edison is tripling its budget for energy efficiency to US$1.5 billion through 2025, in an aggressive program expansion that will include incentives for customers to install ground- and air-source heat pumps to reduce their dependence on natural gas.
Global Cycling Revolution Finding Deep Roots in Toronto
With bike shops reporting thriving sales across Canada and around the world, cycling advocates are pushing hard to ensure that post-pandemic cities include more cycling infrastructure—an evolution that has a lot of public support, even in traditionally car-smitten suburbs.
Major Cities Urge Green, Resilient Recovery with ‘No Return to Business as Usual’
There’s no going back to “business as usual” after the COVID-19 pandemic when that previous path had the world on track for at least 3.0°C average global warming, the mayors of more than three dozen major cities declared in a statement of principles released earlier this month.
E-Bikes Sales Spike as Commuters Prep for Return to Work
Lighter and faster than ever, e-bikes are in high demand as lockdown regulations ease and commuters begin to return to work. Add in ever-increasing urban density, and producers are forecasting a bright future for e-bikes as an alternative to a second family car.
Edmonton Lays Plans to Reboot, Diversify Local Economy
A new agency unanimously approved by city council in Edmonton, Alberta will oversee the creation of a post–COVID-19 economy—equipped with a C$11-million budget and an advisory table that adds foreign investment, trade, and tourism interests to the usual oil and gas voices.
Researchers Cite Urban Density as Solution, Not Cause in Pandemic Spread
It is not density, but instead an inhumane and unhealthy infrastructure rooted in a long history of pervasive inequality and bigotry, that is fuelling the COVID-19 pandemic in the world’s cities, according to several environmental health experts who are urging city planners not to waste a critical insight laid bare by the current health crisis.
WRI ‘Build Back Better’ Webinar Addresses COVID-19 Recovery and Public Transport
As the COVID-19 pandemic makes its relentless sweep across the world’s cities, it is revealing the vital importance of urban public transport systems in delivering essential workers to hospitals, grocery stores, and other critical services the entire community relies on. At WRI’s most recent webinar on how to build back better after the pandemic, panelists pointed to this moment as an opportunity to invest deeper in public transit—not just as an essential system, but as a path to economic recovery.
High School Transit Training Offers Independence, Confidence to Young Riders
Youth, schools, and communities all stand to gain from a public transit initiative in Kingston, Ontario that is empowering young riders, making (pre-COVID) field trips less costly and more climate-friendly, and encouraging life-long transit ridership.
In Conversation: Post-COVID Recovery Becomes Added Lens for Climate, Energy Efficiency Programs, Dunsky Says
Philippe Dunsky is President of Dunsky Energy Consulting, a 35-person Canadian firm specialized in accelerating the clean energy transition. In early April, he circulated a sampling of the energy efficiency, clean energy, electric mobility, and climate action plans his firm is continuing to support through the pandemic, with members of his Montreal-based team conducting their work from home. He talked to The Mix about what a future of rapid decarbonization could look like post-coronavirus.
Canadian-Designed Sensors Helping to Build ‘Smart’ Cities
Once used solely to light commuters’ paths after dark, streetlights can now serve as “technology pillars” for smart city development and maintenance around the world, thanks to a Halifax-based roadway lighting company.
Post-Pandemic ‘Metro Makeovers’ Could Bring Better Pedestrian, Bike Access
Dense cities across Europe are making bike lanes and pedestrian thoroughfares the linchpins in their plans to slowly return citizens to some semblance of normal life—partly in anticipation of a transit-wary public, and partly to double down on a pre-pandemic trend of banning cars from city cores.
Saskatchewan Analysts See Energy Retrofits, Renewables as ‘Very Practical’ Path to Economic Recovery
As oil prices plummet and coronavirus-hit economies reel, analysts and experts are urging aggressive investment in labour-intensive renewable energy projects and efficiency retrofits as a responsible, cost-efficient, and “very practical” path through—and beyond—the pandemic.
Webinar: New York State Looks to Energy Efficiency for Post-COVID Job Creation
With the COVID crisis shutting down the economy in one of the hardest-hit parts of the United States, New York state is in an all-out push to sustain its energy efficiency industry and the 120,000 jobs it creates, Janet Joseph, senior vice president with the state’s Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), told a webinar yesterday.
In Conversation: Community Values Must Inform Post-COVID Rebuilding, Yano Says
Sherry Yano is Manager of Community Renewable Energy at the David Suzuki Foundation. She talks about the fault lines in society revealed by the COVID crisis and the values that lead to action on environment and social justice.
‘Gobsmacking’ UK Announcement Says Green Transport Must Become Citizens’ First Choice
The UK government recently declared that meeting the nation’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 will require that public transit, cycling, and other forms of active transport become “the natural first choice” for citizens—a statement that transport policy experts and active travel campaigners found happily “gobsmacking,” reports BBC News.
WRI Webinar: Nations, Cities Can ‘Build Back Better’ after Pandemic
As governments attempt to steer their economies through the mounting economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, stimulus packages should focus on fostering new models of sustainable and inclusive economic growth, according to panelists at a webinar hosted earlier this month by the World Resources Institute (WRI).
‘Imagine Facing COVID in the Dark’: SolarAid Raises Rural Electrification Funds for Zambia [Donor Appeal]
As the COVID-19 pandemic begins spreading across the African continent, with Malawi and Zambia each recently recording their first death, UK-based SolarAid has set out to raise £162,000 to support fast dissemination of local health advice, light and basic power for rural clinics, and other measures to adapt and respond to immediate needs in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.
In Conversation: Pandemic Experience Puts Spotlight on Local Resilience, Self-Sufficiency, Logtenberg Says
Rik Logtenberg is a city councillor in Nelson, British Columbia, founder of Climate Caucus, a national network of mayors and councillors, and the developer of Nudj, a software platform for mobilizing change.
Amsterdam Turns to ‘Doughnut Economics’ for Equitable Post-Pandemic Recovery
Determined to eschew the dogma of growth at all costs and the reflexive dictates of supply and demand, the city of Amsterdam is vowing to embrace the “doughnut model” of social and planetary boundaries as it plans its economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Pandemic-Mandated Car-Free Streets Are an ‘Epiphany Moment’
Chicago city planners looking to help their citizens keep fit during the pandemic—mentally as well as physically—are being encouraged to close streets to cars and open them up to cyclists and pedestrians, thereby taking a step forward to a climate-friendly world more favourable to transit, bike lanes, and walking.
‘Now Is the Time’ for Food Security Planning, Dauncey Urges
With the pandemic posing an increasing threat to food security, policy-makers need to be thinking hard, and quickly, about how to protect the supply chain—from farm to store to table—with timely attention to building greater long-term resilience into the systems that sustain our food supply, Canadian author and climate hawk Guy Dauncey writes in a recent post.
Community Gardeners Object After Ontario Deems Food Production ‘Recreation’ During Pandemic [Sign-On]
With tens of thousands across the province relying on community gardens for affordable, local food, the Ontario government made a big mistake when it included them in its list of recreational activities to be shut down in the effort to #FlattenTheCurve on the coronavirus pandemic, a non-profit food security group warns in a release this week.
Canadian Cities Stepping up with Sustainable Land Use
Affordability, equity, quality of life, and climate resilience are emerging as key objectives in sustainable land use practices being developed by municipalities across Canada—and those objectives are actually being achieved thanks to a strong evidence base, robust community engagement, and close working relationships within and between public and private sector partners.
Electricity, Clean Water Hold Keys to Human and Climate Health
While the world’s most industrialized countries grapples with health care systems that are strained and fraying in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, large parts of the developing world still lack two simple resources that are the foundations for any kind of health system at all: electricity and clean water.
U.S. Poll Shows Bipartisan Support for Transit Funding, Fills Gap in Green New Deal
Americans of all political stripes are increasingly supportive of expanded public transit, and there is a growing conviction that there should be more restrictions on new road creation, according to a recent poll on behalf of Transportation for America (T4America).
NYC Billy ‘Idle’ Campaign Dodges Root Causes of Air Pollution
New York City’s recent announcement of a US$1-million anti-idling campaign featuring British glam rocker Billy Idol may be witty, but what the community really needs is the political will to take more cars off city streets—an unlikely prospect, given Mayor Bill de Blasio’s penchant for governing “from a windshield perspective,” writes Grist.
Benefits of Telecommuting May Outlast Virus Outbreak
Work-from-home policies being implemented around the world in an urgent effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 could create a significant long-term boost to climate action plans, both by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building future resilience.
Torrie: Mass, Deep Energy Retrofits Put Net-Zero Emissions Within Reach
A program of mass, deep energy retrofits to dramatically increase the efficiency of Ottawa’s existing building stock must be at the centre of the city’s plan to hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, veteran energy modeller Ralph Torrie told a packed house at Ottawa’s Impact Hub late last month.
CCPA: B.C. Must Plan for Managed Decline Before International Fossil Markets Scale Back
British Columbia may be running out of time to plan for a managed decline of its fossil fuel industry, given the prospect that the Asian governments the province is counting on to buy its products may soon be making their own transition to a green economy, warns a new report issued this week by the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
Uber, Lyft Emerge as Massive Emitters, But Policy Changes Could Help
Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft emit almost 70% more carbon dioxide than the forms of transport they displace, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. But a few policy shifts could revive the promise these services once held for promoting carpooling and lower vehicle use.
Drawdown’s Latest ‘Tools of Possibility’ Show Path to 1.5°C, with 1,570 Billion Tons of Emission Cuts by 2050
Humanity can prevent or draw down 1,570 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions between 2020 and 2050 to approach a 1.5°C threshold for average global warming, or 992.77 billion tons to settle around 2.0°C, by adopting a menu of 82 practical solutions ranging from onshore wind to utility-scale solar, from reduced food waste and plant-rich diets to tropical forest restoration and clean cookstoves, according to the 2020 update of the popular Drawdown list.
Refurbishing, Not Razing Old UK Homes Could Save 40 Million Tonnes of GHGs by 2050
Refurbishing just half of the UK’s pre-19th century residential buildings—rather than demolishing them to make way for new builds—would reduce national emissions by almost 40 million tonnes by 2050, says a new report by Historic England.
Windsor Aims for Deep Energy Retrofits in 80% of Homes by 2041
The City of Windsor is closer to adopting a deep retrofit program to slash energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in 80% of its housing stock by 2041, following a unanimous standing committee vote last week.
Federal Budget Must Scale Up Energy Efficiency, Signal Long-Term Commitment, Analysts Urge
After Canadians voted for strong climate action in last fall’s federal election, and all the political parties represented in Parliament included energy efficiency in their platforms, the upcoming federal budget is an essential opportunity to slash pollution, create jobs, and make everyone’s lives more comfortable, Efficiency Canada argues in a recent opinion piece.
Hold the Line on Urban Sprawl, Local Campaigners Urge Ottawa City Council
Holding the line on the City of Ottawa’s urban boundary is an essential first step if the community hopes to do its part to get the climate crisis under control, local green space advocate Daniel Buckles wrote in a recent Ottawa Citizen op ed.
Freeland Holds ‘Bridge-Building’ Session with Western Municipalities
A new group of municipal leaders from western Canada held meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly earlier this week, during a day-long task force gathering in Leduc, Alberta organized by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Big-City Mayors Call for Predictable, Long-Term Transit Funding
Canada’s big-city mayors are pushing for predictable, long-term mass transit funding and immediate dollars for climate change programming when Finance Minister Bill Morneau issues his climate-focused budget next month.
San Francisco Declares Market Street a Car-Free Zone
San Francisco has gone through with a plan to ban cars along Market Street, one of the busiest and most hazardous thoroughfares in the city’s bustling downtown—and has earned what a leading urban affairs newsletter calls a “remarkable level of local support” for doing so.
Green Roofs Would Save 770 Megatons of Carbon by 2050
Green roofs rank #73 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. By the year 2050, an increase in green and cool roofs could save 0.77 gigatons of carbon at a net cost of US$1.39 trillion, while producing $988.5 billion in savings.
Free Transit Fights Inequality, But May Not Cut Emissions
Experiments with free public transit in cities across the U.S. are returning a mix of responses, including support from riders, cost concerns from managers, and questions about whether they actually result in fewer cars on the road.
Conservative U.S. States Take Tentative Steps, But Won’t Call it Climate Action
Across major swaths of the United States, legislators in some of the country’s most conservative enclaves are making tentative moves to take action on the climate crisis—though many of them are still unwilling to call that crisis by its proper name.
‘Words Make Worlds’: Holthaus Issues Call to Imagine, Create a Radically Positive Future
As the climate crisis deepens, we must be “radically imaginative,” telling ourselves and each other stories of fiercely visionary, loving, and productive collective actions that will help end the climate emergency, veteran meteorologist and climate hawk Eric Holthaus writes in The Correspondent.
Nottingham Delivers Home Comfort, Rooftop Solar in Drive to Be UK’s First Carbon-Neutral City
Nottingham, England is setting out to transform housing, transportation, energy use, and waste management in a bid to become the country’s first carbon-neutral city by 2028, a full 22 years before the UK hopes to hit the same target.
High-Fives in PEI After Officials Announce $68-Million Solar+Storage Project
Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna and Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey shared a “small victorious high-five” in Summerside, PEI last week after announcing construction of a C$68-million, 21-megawatt solar farm with 10 MW of battery storage.
LED Retrofit Cuts Lighting Costs 94%, Points to Fast ROI for Commercial Buildings
An LED lighting replacement project at a manufacturing plant in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata cut lighting costs 94% while providing better illumination, delivering the equivalent of a one-day return on investment after factoring in federal and provincial incentives.
London, New York Mayors Urge Major Cities to Dump Fossil Investments
London, UK Mayor Sadiq Kahn and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are urging every major municipality in the world to dump their fossil fuel investments, after C40 Cities released a toolkit to help them do just that.
Threatened with implacably rising tides and temperatures, even as they face massive influxes of people seeking refuge from a hostile hinterland, the architects of coastal cities in a climate-changed world might want to give biomimicry a try, giving specific consideration to shallow-water biochemical structures called stromatolites.
U.S. Community Solar Comes of Age, Becomes ‘Something I’d Sign My Mom Up For’
With a proven product, a more flexible approach to contracts, and a different notion of customer service and communications, community solar in the United States is getting closer to offering a broadly accessible, scaled-up product for the 50 to 75% of households that don’t have the option of installing their own rooftop systems.
District Heating Would Save 9.38 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
District heating ranks #27 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. By 2050, the technique could eliminate 9.38 gigatons of carbon dioxide at a net cost of US$457.1 billion, and produce $3.54 trillion in savings.
Ontario Town Counts on Transit, Urban Design to Protect Rural Flavour, Prevent Sprawl
Drawing inspiration from sources as diverse as the garden city movement of the early 20th century, Israel’s cooperative moshavs, and the annual Burning Man event, the town council of Innisfil, Ontario has developed a new model of suburban intensification built around nature, two wheels, and walking, in a bid to protect the good things about rural life.
Post-Cold War Necessity Makes Cuba a Model for Scaled-Up Urban Farming
Cuba is emerging as a model for countries intent on feeding dense urban populations in a warming world, after the geopolitics of the Cold War ended with the island nation’s remarkable success with urban farming.
Mental Health Expertise Meets Sandbags in Helping Communities Build Climate Resilience
It was judicious use of mental health expertise, along with many, many sandbags, that enabled Fargo, North Dakota to weather the challenges of the epic 2009 Red River flood. That was one of the experiences that pointed to a basic precondition for building communities’ ability to face the climate emergency: Recognizing climate change as a profound threat to mental health, responding with messages of “hopeful realism” and ongoing compassion, particularly for older adults and children, and helping communities acquire the psychological and social resilience to cope.
Cut Carbon by Giving Citizens More Transportation Choices, Veteran City Planner Urges
A key step in getting Canadian urbanites out of high-emitting cars is to shed the notion that roads are natural habitat for cars alone and redesign city streets to give citizens more transportation choices, former Toronto chief planner and mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat argues in a Globe and Mail op ed.
Online Tool Connects Energy Poverty to Climate, Housing Crises
A group of sustainability specialists is out with a new online mapping tool to help policy-makers navigate the challenging nexus between the climate crisis, the housing crisis, and poverty, to ensure that no one is left behind in the transition out of a fossil economy.
Energy Efficiency Scorecard Shows B.C. Leading, But All Provinces with Room to Improve
British Columbia leads, Saskatchewan along with Newfoundland and Labrador lag, and no province receives a score above 58 points on a 100-point scale in the first annual provincial energy efficiency scorecard released yesterday by Efficiency Canada.
Zero-Emission Vehicles Hit 10% of New Car Sales in British Columbia
British Columbia has surged into a Canada-wide lead in its buying habits for zero-emission vehicles, with electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell cars accounting for 10% of all new purchases, far ahead of a national average of 3.5%.
A 2030 Vision: Here’s What Life is Like if We Win on Climate
Far lower CO2 emissions, cleaner air and water, less meat on the dinner table, and less spending on consumer goods are key features of a near future in which humanity brings climate change under control, Danish Member of Parliament Ida Auken writes in a recent post for the World Economic Forum.
Home Storage Delivers Back-Up Power in Vermont Blackout, and EV Batteries Could Do Even Better
When a major rain and wind storm knocked out power supplies for 115,000 Vermont households on Hallowe’en, the 1,100 Green Mountain Power customers participating in a home battery pilot project did just fine.
Beyond EVs, U.S. Communities Need to ‘Drive Less, Right Now’
While progressive U.S. policy-makers increasingly promote electric vehicles as the magic bullet to decarbonize transportation, what Americans really need is encouragement to “drive less, right now” through strategic tweaks to existing infrastructure, more pedestrian- and cycling=friendly roads, and EV car-sharing, says CityLab.
Solar Farm to Deliver Better Electricity Access, Annual Revenue to B.C. First Nation
The six communities of the Tŝilhqot’in Nation in British Columbia are looking ahead to better electricity access and C$175,000 in annual revenue after completing construction of a solar farm west of Williams Lake that is expected to generate 1.5 gigawatt-hours per year for the BC Hydro grid.
Solar+Storage Costs Less than Grid Electricity in Six European Cities
Solar plus storage is already cost-competitive across much of southern and northern Europe, and will hit grid parity across the continent by 2025, according to a new study conducted by a solar photovoltaic researcher with support from industry.
Mayor of Impoverished French Town Combines Green Strategy with Social Supports
Undaunted by 28% unemployment, and the fact that Marie Le Pen’s xenophobic National Rally party continues to appeal to a majority of his constituents, the Green Party mayor of an impoverished coastal town near Calais is determined to prove that strong environmental policy means a better life for working people.
Alberta Efficiency Programs Cut GHGs by 5.7 Megatonnes, Save $692 Million Over Two Years
Energy Efficiency Alberta is earning praise at the national level, even as it faces an uncertain future in its home province, after reporting C$692 million in energy savings, $850 million in economic impact, and 5.7 million tonnes of potential greenhouse gas emission reductions over its first two years of operation.
Global Water Crisis Requires Local Solutions, Not More Megaprojects
Human-scale water conservation methods, both ancient and modern, not big-budget, Delhi-directed megaprojects, will be critical to helping India survive and gain resilience as monsoon rains fail and temperatures rise, says journalist and environmental activist Meera Subramanian.
Britain’s First-Ever Citizens’ Climate Assembly Generates 600 Ideas, Demands Local Government Action
In Britain’s first-ever citizens’ assembly on climate change, participants convened by Camden council in north London came up with rooftop solar, cutting fossil fuels out of local government developments, and 15 other steps their community could take to cut emissions and boost sustainability.
Nearly Two Dozen States Back California Fuel Economy Rule as White House Prepares to Finalize Rollback
Governors from 22 U.S. states plus Puerto Rico, including at least three Republicans, are urging the White House to adopt tougher fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks, contending that consumers, automakers, and the environment will all suffer from Donald Trump’s determined effort to roll those standards back.