SNAPSHOT: Sub-National Governments, Cities Step Up on Climate Action

 
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Sub-national and municipal governments continued to take an outsized role in 2018 in setting ambitious targets to reduce carbon pollution and drive a transition to renewable energy.

The year saw some acknowledgement that cities, regions, and private businesses won’t be able to drive the transition far enough, fast enough to avert the worst effects of climate change without renewed ambition at the national level. But more than 3,000 U.S. cities, states, businesses, investors, counties, regional associations, faith communities, and post-secondary institutions were still on track to meet 65% to 85% of the United States’ emissions target under the Paris Agreement, and decision makers in North America, Europe, and elsewhere saw lots of opportunities for leadership from the levels of government that are closest to citizens’ everyday lives.

California continued to position itself as a carbon-reduction leader at the state level, hosting a mid-September Global Climate Action Summit that produced a flurry of low-carbon announcements from participants. In August, the state had published an alarming climate impact assessment that pointed to apocalyptic threats ahead in a high-carbon future—and those projections were quickly made obsolete when the Camp Fire, California’s worst wildfire ever, killed at least 85 people and destroyed 14,000 homes just three months later. At the conference, Governor Jerry Brown renewed his pledge to “launch our own damn satellite” if the U.S. government didn’t step up and show climate leadership. At the same time, he drew sharp criticism for his refusal to plan an orderly phaseout for his own state’s oil industry, the second-largest in America after Texas’. After California adopted a 2045 deadline to convert its electricity system to 100% renewable energy, supported by an expanded electric vehicle mandate, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy cautioned that the target would be attainable only with an aggressive effort to curb demand.

Colorado set an example for other U.S. states with its low-income solar program, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper set a 2025 deadline to cut his state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40%, and 14 states set up a court battle with Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency over methane control regulations. Citizens seized power over the energy agenda with more than five dozen ballot initiatives in 24 states, though fossils won in Colorado, Washington state, and Arizona when they opened up their massive coffers for the fight. A community network in Catalonia, Spain, pushed for regional energy sovereignty, while U.S. utilities and global fossils tried to fight public opinion and slow down the transition to 100% renewable energy. A U.S. appeals court decision in support of a nuclear subsidy in Illinois set a precedent that could help state renewables programs.

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Dianne Saxe, an independent officer of the provincial legislature, advised Doug Ford’s new government that it was obliged to spend C$1 billion in carbon cap-and-trade revenue on climate solutions, even as Ford moved to shut down the province’s cap-and-trade and climate programs. Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli tabled legislation a month later to shut down Saxe’s office and two other independent accountability offices in an ironically titled Plan for the People. In Montreal, 50,000 people marched to demand climate action from the new Coalition Avenir Québec government; and sustainable energy veteran Guy Dauncey critiqued British Columbia’s “timid” plans for climate action.

Municipalities embraced a suite of climate solutions against a backdrop of mounting climate impacts. Researchers pointed to more severe climate impacts ahead for European cities, C40 Cities said everyday consumer goods were driving up municipalities’ carbon footprints by 60%, U.S. cities and states were warned that their bond ratings would take a dive if they failed to address the climate risks they face, and a tornado turned a beloved, wooded neighbourhood in Ottawa into a logging camp.

But C40 Cities, the Global Covenant of Mayors, and the NewClimate Institute also reported that communities could create 13.7 million jobs and prevent 1.3 million premature deaths by 2030 by pursuing “ambitious urban climate policies” that “vastly reduce carbon emissions globally.” The mayors of London and New York City urged cities around the world to dump their fossil fuel investments, while UN climate secretary Patricia Espinosa joined C40 Cities Chair and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo in a call for ramped-up climate action. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, co-chair of the 400-member Climate Mayors network, invited his counterparts in other U.S. cities to share their energy demand data and eventually pool their requests for project estimates from renewable energy developers as a cost-saving measure. The world’s wealthiest cities were told they hold the key to fast, effective climate action, and a court ordered German municipalities to consider banning the highest-polluting diesel vehicles from their streets. Hamburg was considering doing just that, and Reuters reported that “the court said Stuttgart, which styles itself the birthplace of the modern automobile and is home to Mercedes-maker Daimler, should consider gradually imposing a year-round ban for older diesel models, while Düsseldorf should also think about curbs.”

Nineteen cities with a combined population of 130 million, including Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, promised that all new buildings under their jurisdiction would be net-zero carbon by 2030. Planting 20% more urban trees had the potential to boost well-being and add $500 million to the value of the world’s megacities. More than 100 cities were already sourcing at least 70% of their electricity from renewable sources in 2017; San Diego created a new public power company with a 2035 deadline to hit 100% renewable energy; and Orlando, Florida, recognized coal generation as a key challenge in its push toward 100% renewable energy. Edmonton set a 2030 deadline to convert its corporate operations to 100% renewable energy after hearing the Republican mayor of Georgetown, Texas, extol the benefits of the off-carbon transition; and Calgary allowed homeowners to finance energy retrofits through their property taxes. Regina city council unanimously adopted a 2050 deadline for 100% renewable energy, and a Guelph University urban specialist said cities need practical programs more than earnest, 100% goals. More Canadian communities were adopting development strategies that support urban transit, and Project Drawdown reported that cities could eliminate 2.92 gigatons of carbon emissions by 2050 by making their neighbourhoods more walkable.

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Agronomists See Climate Change Boosting Rice Yields

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.

Critics Demand Financial Review of Trans Mountain Pipeline, Claim Victory Slowing Down Construction

A list of more than 100 Canadian economists and resource policy specialists that includes a former CEO of BC Hydro and Ontario Hydro is urging the federal government to reassess the viability of the Trans Mountain expansion project in light of rising project costs and plummeting oil demand, while a group of campaigners in British Columbia takes a victory lap for slowing down construction of the controversial pipeline.

67% of Low-Income U.S. Households Face High Energy Burden

Two out of three low-income households in the United States face disproportionately steep energy bills, says a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Hurricane Sally Drenches U.S. Southeast as Climate Change Produces Slower, Lingering Storms

Hurricane Sally weakened to a tropical storm but still brought catastrophic flooding to parts of the U.S. Deep South this week, leaving at least one person dead, 500,000 homes and businesses without electricity, and rivers and streams overflowing their banks.

TAF Fetes ‘Big Canadian Moment’ as Community Investment Model Goes National

South Korean President Promises 30 More Coal Plant Closures

India’s Tata Power Wants Older Coal Plants Replaced with Renewables

Maryland Approves Offshore Wind Farm Using 12-MW GE Turbines

Six Alberta First Nations Invest in $1.5-Billion Gas Plant with Provincial Loan Guarantee

Insurer Files Suit Against Dike Builder in Devastating 2019 Flood

CN Buys 50 Lion Electric Transport Trucks

Federal Program Helps Freight Handlers Decarbonize Their Fleets

So Cal Ed’s $436M EV Charging Program is Biggest in U.S.

Chamber of Commerce (Still) Elevates Climate Deniers in U.S. Congress

Chicago-Area Landfill Site to Supply Local Solar

China Coal Miner Plans Big Solar Manufacturing Investment

Fast Renewables Ramp-Up Drives Down Australian Coal Use

Charleston, SC Becomes First U.S. Southern City to Sue Fossils for Climate Damages

San Diego Utility Plans All-Renewable Microgrid

Bosch Aims to Decarbonize Operations with Three New Solar Contracts

Tech CEO Touts Wireless EV Charging for Smart Cities

Exclusive: NDP Riding Presidents Push Singh, 150 MPs and Staffers Talk Green Recovery, as Throne Speech Looms

The federal New Democratic Party leadership is taking grassroot fire for failing to use its position in a minority parliament to press the Trudeau government for tougher green recovery measures in its hotly-anticipated Speech from the Throne September 23.

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.

Newfoundland Turns Thumbs Down on Husky’s Offshore Oil Bailout Demand

With Husky Energy on the hunt for government bailouts for its C$2.2-billion West White Rose project off the Newfoundland coast, the provincial government is making it clear it doesn’t have any spare cash available to help the Calgary-based fossil out.

Ontario’s Ford Government Guts Environmental Protections, Undermines Health Record

While Ontario’s Ford government has proven to be an able defender of health in the face of COVID-19, it continues to be a profound threat to the environment, gutting established protections, hobbling climate action at every opportunity and, most recently, hamstringing the province’s environmental review process.

‘Climate Arsonist’ Trump Addresses California Wildfires by Talking Down Climate Science

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden branded Donald Trump a “climate arsonist”, after the current occupant of the White House poured gasoline on his own, unique brand of firestorm Monday, during a visit to the wildfire-ravaged state of California.

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.

Poland Plans Billions for Renewables, Nuclear to Speed Up Coal Phaseout

Rise of SUVs Drove Carbon Emissions in Transport

Poor Communities in Texas Still Waiting for Hurricane Relief from 2017

B.C.’s Howe Sound Rebounds, But Faces Climate Risk

Feds Back 10-MW Solar+Storage Project on PEI

Swift Current, Saskatchewan Starts Work on 10-MW Solar Project

Chicago Suburb Decides to Carry On with Community Solar Program

Texas Plan Would Store Carbon in Prairie Grasses

Delaware Sues Fossils for Climate Impacts

Justin Trudeau

Fossils Troll for Relief as Throne Speech Focus Veers Toward Housing, Income Support

With the latest news and commentary out of Ottawa pointing to housing, employment insurance reform, and long-term care as main focal points for the September 23 Speech from the Throne, the fossil industry is pushing the Trudeau government for more bailout dollars and regulatory delays as part of the economic recovery from the pandemic.

UK Citizen Climate Assembly Calls for ‘Fair’ Green Recovery

A ban on SUVs, a frequent flyer tax, carbon emissions labelling, and protections for those most exposed in the push to net zero were among the core recommendations when the UK’s citizen-led Climate Assembly issued its final report last week.

Multiple Mega-Fires Deliver Toxic Air, Extreme Heat, Rolling Blackouts Across Western U.S.

With “multiple mega-fires burning more than three million acres”, and millions of people in California, Oregon, and Washington State facing a mix of toxic air, extreme heat, and rolling blackouts, a month of summer wildfires is bringing some of the most dire predictions from climate scientists into day-to-day reality.

Phoenix, AZ Hits 110°F for 50 Straight Days

Unstable Foundations Have B.C. NDP Fretting About Site C Cost Overruns

Nalcor, Newfoundland and Labrador Resist Class Action Suit in 2017 Flood

Community Pushback Shifts Metrolinx Position on Jane-Finch Hub

Toronto Paramedics Adopt Hybrid-Electrics for Majority of Fleet

Houston Water Pumping Plant to Get Biggest Microgrid in U.S.

Australia’s Rooftop Solar Boom Holds Lessons for Others

Singapore Looks for New Output from Rooftop Solar

Uganda E-Bus Plant Delivers Jobs, Helps Cut Pollution

Big Investors Push Texas to Ban Most Gas Flaring

Botswana, Namibia Aim for 5 GW New Solar

Grid Failures Make Libya’s Brutal Summer Heat Even Worse

Husky Seeks Government Bailout for $2.2-Billion Fossil Project Off Newfoundland Coast

Husky Energy is looking to federal and provincial governments for a bailout for its C$2.2-billion West White Rose project, an oil and gas drilling venture off the Newfoundland coast that it had planned to expand until the COVID-19 pandemic sent global fossil markets into a tailspin.

Fossils Keep Paying Shareholders Despite Epic Financial Losses, Declining Business Prospects

Some of the world’s most colossal fossils posted epic financial losses between April and June this year, all in the interest of preserving their dividends to shareholders, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis concluded in a research brief late last month.

The Battle Plan: Key Lessons from the Second World War for the Climate Mobilization (Part 2)

This is the second 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.

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.

Alberta Dials Down Expectations with Softer Mandate for ‘Foreign-Funded Radicals’ Inquiry

The Alberta government may be losing momentum in its crusade against supposed “foreign-funded special interests” working against the province’s oilpatch, with the deadline for commissioner Steve Allan’s report delayed four months and his terms of reference adjusted to acknowledge that he might not actually find any foreign influence over the industry.

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.

Ban Ads for Cars that Damage Climate, UK Campaign Urges

Montreal Tears Up Disputed Bike Path, Will Consult Neighbours Next Time

Liberals Promise Green Home Retrofits in New Brunswick Election

Nalcor Says Spill Contained After Muskrat Falls Powerhouse Leaks Oil

Nova Scotia Company Plans Another Try at Bay of Fundy Tidal

Chargepoint Raises $127M to Expand EV Charging Network

U.S. Sees Rise in EV Charging Stations

NJ Utility Plans to Sell Off Nearly 7 GW of Fossil Capacity

Case Studies Look at Climate Vulnerability of Infrastructure

$1B New York State Program Boosts Home Energy Efficiency, Cuts Bills

West Michigan City Saves $354,000 with New Solar Array

Big Financial Loss Prompts Petronas to ‘Reassess’ Oil and Gas Investments, Expand Renewables

One of the partners in British Columbia’s massive LNG Canada megaproject, Malaysian state fossil Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), is planning to cut global oil and gas production and expand its presence in solar and wind after posting a US$5.06-billion loss between April and June of this year.

Hundreds of Thousands Face Blackouts, Wildfires, Evacuations as California Heat Wave Continues

Hundreds of thousands of Californians are facing down a continuing, extreme heat wave, while coping with power system blackouts brought on by a new round of uncontrolled wildfires that are “knocking out power plants, triggering evacuations, and threatening to take out the lights no matter how much the state conserves,” Bloomberg Green reports.

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.

Judge Strikes Down Ontario’s Gas Pump Propaganda Stickers as ‘Blatant Advantage-Seeking’

The Doug Ford government’s gas tank propaganda stickers against the federal floor price on carbon were an “unconstitutional attempt” to force private gas station operators to “stick it to” another order of government or political party, Justice Edward Morgan of the Ontario Superior Court ruled Friday.

Ontario Funding Model Undermines Transit, Favours Uber

As Ontario’s Doug Ford government signals an ever-increasing enthusiasm for microtransit services like Uber, critics warn that, far from being a panacea for transit woes, ridesharing undermines public transit and leads to reduced accessibility, rising fares, and more congestion and emissions.

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.

Renewables Surge Past Coal, Nuclear to Deliver Second-Largest Share of U.S. Electricity in Q2

Smoke from California Wildfires Reaches Southern Ontario

Oakville Buys 73 New Electric Buses

Pembina Sees Renewables Helping Canadian Communities Build Back Stronger

Arlington, Texas Tackles Fracking as Racial Justice Issue

U.S. Agencies Aren’t Saying How Many Wildland Firefighters Have COVID

Spanish Wind Producer Iberdola Plans Europe’s First Big Green Hydrogen Project

‘Scientifically Valid Evidence’ Shows Tar Sands/Oil Sands Tailings Ponds Contaminating Northern Alberta Groundwater

There is “scientifically valid evidence” that toxic pollution seeping from tar sands/oil sands tailings ponds in northern Alberta is contaminating groundwater in the Athabasca watershed, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) concluded in an assessment released Thursday.

Pipeline Spill Forces Temporary Shutdown at Kearl Lake Tar Sands/Oil Sands Mine

Imperial Oil’s Kearl Lake mine has gone into temporary shutdown, following a spill Saturday in a diluent pipeline that supplies the giant tar sands/oil sands facility north of Fort McMurray.

Hoboken, NJ Launches the Latest Climate Liability Suit Against Big Oil

In the latest in a groundswell of climate liability lawsuits, the coastal city of Hoboken, New Jersey is suing six fossil giants as well as the American Petroleum Institute (API) trade group, accusing them of a deliberate, decades-long campaign of deception and demanding compensation for current and future climate impacts.

Alberta Start-Up Plans Solar Arrays for Abandoned Oil Wells

An initial two to four abandoned oil well sites in Taber, Alberta will be converted to host small solar arrays, in a bid to make productive use of the sites while long-term remediation is under way.

Mining Association ‘Disheartened’ by Federal Review of Teck Coal Mine Expansion Plan

150 Dead, 200 Injured After Flash Floods in Afghanistan

Guterres Warns India Against Coal Expansion as Industry ‘Goes Up in Smoke’

Puerto Rican Regulator Favours Solar Over Gas

Salt Spring Island Enviro Solutions Must Include People: Mogus

Western U.S. Sees Solar+Storage Boom

California Regulators Approach ‘Tipping Point’ on New Building Electrification

Sydney, Australia Could See Daily Flooding by Century’s End

New Data Points to Wind Potential in Florida

Thin Triple-Pane Windows Emerge as Energy Efficiency Bright Spot

Hurricane Laura Delivers Predictable, Preventable Damage to Marginalized Communities

As the residents of Louisiana’s industry-heavy coast begin the long work of recovering from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Laura—and the highly toxic chemical fire it triggered—citizens are once again facing down one of the hard truths of a fossil economy: when a climate disaster strikes, marginalized communities get pummelled.

Coalspur Demands Judicial Review of Federal Assessment for Vista Coal Mine Expansion

The company behind the Vista coal mine is calling for a judicial review of Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson’s decision to order an environmental assessment of its controversial plans to expand its operations.

Shutting Most Coal, Gas Plants Could Save Southeastern U.S. $384 Billion by 2040

Seven states in the southeastern United States could save US$384 billion by 2040 by setting up competitive pricing for grid electricity and phasing out most of their coal-fired power stations and natural gas peaker plants, according to a new analysis released last week.

‘Unlikely Allies’ Create Renewable Energy Opportunities in Alberta

What do oil executives and climate activists have in common? Not much, if you listen to popular media narratives pitting environmental protection against economic growth. But at the Energy Futures Lab, diverse innovators and stakeholders in Alberta’s energy sector are finding plenty of room for collaboration.

BP Plans to Sell London, UK Headquarters

Ottawa Promises ‘Very Specific Things to Say’ on East Coast Fossil Bailout

Feds Pledge $18.3M for Six South Baffin Renewables Projects

Cree Community Opens First Utility-Scale Solar Plant in Manitoba

Texas Advanced Energy Creates More Jobs Than Real Estate, Three Times More Than Chemicals

City Utility in San Antonio Seeks 900 MW Solar, 50 MW Battery Storage

WoodMac Questions Tesla’s Record-Low Home Solar Prices

Climate Could Make Summers ‘Too Hot for Humans’

Better Knowledge, Aging Infrastructure Drive Rising Environmental Insurance Claims

UPDATED: Turnover at Finance Opens Door for a ‘Fundamental Retooling of the Canadian Economy’

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s dramatic resignation last night opens up an opportunity for his successor to embrace a green and just recovery as a cornerstone of the federal government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, leading climate and energy strategists have told The Energy Mix.

Op-ed: Metrolinx Betrayal of Toronto Neighbourhood Another ‘Ugly Form’ of Systemic Racism

After agreeing long ago to donate land so that Toronto’s impoverished but determined-to-flourish Jane-Finch neighbourhood could build a cultural and community hub, transit agency Metrolinx is being excoriated for betraying its promise—a decision that seems to reflect the persistent appearance that, in the minds of policy-makers, Black lives don’t matter all that much, after all.

Even in Green California, Wealthy Communities Push Back Against Densification

U.S. efforts to build denser cities are facing pushback, and not just from Donald Trump—with even committed green residents of California seemingly unmoved by the profound inequities and climate harms inherent in the American dream of house-yard-garage. 

New Climate Migration Model Answers Looming Question: ‘Where Will Everyone Go?’

As the hallmarks of the climate crisis—heat, thirst, hunger, sea level rise, and conflict—send millions of frightened and desperate people into flight, migration experts are warning of an increasing reality for individuals and for nations: “Mobility is resilience.”

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.

Nature-Friendly Economy Would Deliver $10 Trillion in Opportunities, 395 Million Jobs by 2030

A “fundamental transformation” in the direction of a nature-friendly global economy could produce US$10 trillion in annual business opportunities and a mind-boggling 395 million jobs by 2030, the International Institute for Sustainable Development reports, in a review of a recent report by the World Economic Forum.

AIMCo Fossil Investment Strategy Cost Alberta Heritage Fund $2B

No One Takes Responsibility for Massive Florida Methane Cloud

Spring Flooding Caused $522M in Damage in Fort McMurray

Alberta Aims to Solve Decades-Old Regulatory Problem with Orphan Wells

Manitoba First Nation Pans Nuclear Commission’s ‘Colonial, Inexcusable’ Behaviour

Urban Wine Project Turns Montreal Rooftops Into Vineyards

Big California Gas Utility Accused of Undermining Electrification

New Online Tools Trace U.S. Cities’ Drive to Renewables

Australia’s Biggest Wind Farm Begins Sending Power to Grid

Developer in Poland Plans 1.2-GW Wind Farm in Baltic Sea

600-MW Wind Farm in Thailand to Send Power to Vietnam

UK Subsidy Will Get More Riders on E-Bikes

Future Without Cars is Declared ‘Amazing’

New Mexico’s Off-Coal Transition Plan Includes Community Dialogue, Jobs Outside Energy

New Mexico is emerging as a promising model for governments aiming to phase out coal without leaving behind the households and communities that depend on coal industry jobs, after an Albuquerque-based private utility decided to divest its share of the 925-megawatt San Juan coal plant in 2022 and invest in 650 MW of solar generation and 300 MW of battery storage.

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.

Seven Ukrainian Coal Towns Plot Joint Transformation

New Tariffs Against China Could Threaten India’s 100-GW Solar Target

Neighbours Protest Nuclear Pellet Plant in Peterborough

Vancouver Turns to Heat Mapping to Cool Warmest Parts of the City

Hydro-Québec Tests the Waters with Solar

Boston-Area Study Finds Big Racial Disparities in Tailpipe Pollution

Ohio Evangelicals Try to Move Legislators on Clean Energy

Air Conditioning Demand Could Drive Record Oil Use in Saudi Arabia

Extreme Rainfall in Korea Likely Triggered by Climate Change

Climate-Driven Weather Will Make a Congested Commute Worse

What If Consumers Could Just Buy Their Own Plug-In Batteries?

Weekend Tour Kicks Off Six-Week Push to Delay Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

More than 200 people signed up for a series of socially-distanced, small-group weekend tours of a conservation area in British Columbia, followed by a round of “know-your-rights training”, as campaign organizations prepared for a critical six weeks in their bid to halt construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Alberta Mismanages Heritage Fund, Misses Out on $575B in Revenue Over 44 Years

Successive Alberta governments over the last 44 years have mismanaged their way out of C$575 billion in revenue that should have been available to help cushion the province from a brutal oil price crash and chart a course to a more diverse, less fossil-dependent economy, according to a University of Calgary economics professor.

Groundbreaking New Grid Model Would Eliminate up to 80% of U.S. Emissions by 2035

A new energy model is being hailed as the long-awaited technical manual for a Green New Deal in the U.S., a roadmap to the mass electrification that will allow the country to decarbonize its power grid by 2035.

Utility-Scale Battery Project Could Be ‘Game-Changer’ for Alberta Utility

A “really cool” utility-scale storage project that matches up a local wind farm with Tesla batteries is being cast as a possible game-changer for Calgary-based TransAlta Corporation, Alberta’s biggest utility.

Rapid Glacier Loss Will Affect Regional Water Availability in Alberta

Tropical Storm Isaias Destroys Outdoor Dining in New Jersey

Oklahoma Indian Land Decision Could Affect Massive Cushing Oil Terminal

California Looks to Include Climate Planning in Utility Rates

WRI: New Start-Ups Show Future of Mobility is Micro

UK Grid Could Go Carbon-Negative by 2033

Architecture Can Support Pandemic Adaptation

Exxon Rips Up $30-Billion Rebuilding Plan, Could Declare Stranded Assets at Kearl Lake

ExxonMobil’s massive Kearl Lake mine north of Fort McMurray may be the latest tar sands/oil sands to be devalued as one of the world’s most determined colossal fossils considers designating up to one-fifth of its global oil and gas reserves as stranded assets, part of a company-wide scramble to respond to crashing oil prices and weak markets for its product.

Budget Cut for Tar Sands/Oil Sands Monitoring Raises Health Concerns for Nearby First Nations

Indigenous communities in northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories say they’re losing faith in federal and provincial environmental monitoring in the tar sands/oil sands, after The Canadian Press revealed earlier this week that this year’s field research program will sustain a funding cut of about 25%.

BC Hydro, NDP Blame COVID-19 for Site C Overruns, Despite Pre-Existing Problems

Two years after an international expert wrote a lengthy report on the myriad factors likely to lead to major construction cost overruns on the Site C hydroelectric dam, BC Hydro is blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for the multiple woes that now beset the megaproject. Not so fast, say those who have long and fiercely opposed it.

Beer: Alberta Should Treat Total’s $9.3-Billion Write-Off as a Wake-Up Call, Not a Cheap Shot

After French petroleum giant Total wrote off C$9.3 billion in stranded assets in the tar sands/oil sands, the Jason Kenney government had the option of treating the announcement as a wake-up call, not a cheap shot. And Albertans were hurt first and worst when their government made the wrong choice, The Energy Mix publisher Mitchell Beer argues in a post for The Narwhal.

Alberta’s Fossil Tax Relief Plan Downloads Financial Pain to Small Communities

Alberta’s United Conservative Party is considering relieving the province’s oil and gas operators of their obligation to pay municipal property taxes, an act of corporate welfare that would leave rural communities unable to balance their budgets without resorting to steep residential tax hikes or savage cuts to services. 

Gray: Canada Loses if Trudeau Bets on a Second White House Term for Trump

The Trudeau government appears to be betting on a second White House term for Donald Trump, Environmental Defence Executive Director Tim Gray observes in a blog post this week. And that means Ottawa could be caught offside if Joe Biden wins the presidency, with his plan for a US$2-trillion green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

Bike-Share Program Addresses Long-Standing Inequities on Chicago’s South Side

Clean Energy Canada Reports Big Potential for Geothermal

FCM Offers Innovative Financing for Community Energy Efficiency

New York City’s Managed Retreat Has Already Begun

15 U.S. States Embrace Zero-Emission Trucks by 2050

California’s Top Oil Driller Files for Bankruptcy

China Boosts Renewable Energy Subsidies

Dealers See Opportunities for Green Deals in Southeast Asia

Online Viewers Flock to French E-Bike Ad that was Too Intense for TV

Twitter Storm Greets Wilkinson Defence After Pandemic Produces 25% Cut in Tar Sands/Oil Sands Monitoring

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is pushing back on Twitter—and receiving a small Twitter storm in return—after The Canadian Press reported a 25% cut in the country’s environmental monitoring program for the Alberta tar sands/oil sands due to the coronavirus pandemic.

5,757 ‘Tiny Earthquakes’ in B.C.’s Peace Region Were Mostly Caused by Fracking

Oil and gas fracking operations in British Columbia’s Peace region were by far the main cause of 5,757 “tiny earthquakes” between 2017 and 2019 that would have gone unrecorded if researchers hadn’t been looking for them, according to a study published last month in the journal Seismological Research Letters.

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.

Expand Natural Gas Energy Efficiency to Boost Economy, Create Jobs, Groups Urge Ontario

The Ontario Energy Board must expand the province’s natural gas energy efficiency programs as a way to meet provincial carbon targets, create jobs, and drive the COVID-19 economic recovery, Efficiency Canada argues in a letter it submitted yesterday to three senior provincial cabinet ministers.

Scarcity of Pollinators Reduces Crop Yields, Quality in U.S. and B.C.

A scarcity of both wild bees and their domesticated cousins is limiting crop yields and quality, according to a recent collaborative study of farms across the United States and British Columbia. The province’s lucrative blueberry crop is being particularly hard hit by the scarcity of pollinators, the researchers found.

Pandemic and climate crises unmask inequalities

A chorus of world leaders has declared we’re all in the same COVID-19 boat. In response, U.K. writer Damian Barr tweeted, “We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar.”

Activists Urge Toronto to Build Green Recovery Through COVID Relief

Canada Exempts Newfoundland Offshore Drilling from Environmental Assessment

Quebec Manufacturers Nab Contract for Electric Garbage Trucks

Gates Hunts for Cobalt in Northern Quebec

Fossils Control Research, Direct Innovation in Alberta Universities

GM Plans to Triple U.S. Fast Charging Network

Mississippi River Farmers Look to Nature-Based Flood Mitigation

U.S. Home Electrification Programs Drive Energy Efficiency

Colossal Fossil Total Declares $9.3B in Stranded Assets in Alberta Tar Sands/Oil Sands

French colossal fossil Total sent a shockwave through the Alberta oilpatch Wednesday with the announcement that it is writing off C$9.3 billion in assets in the tar sands/oil sands, including $7.3 billion in the Fort Hills mine, which opened just 2½ years ago, and the Surmont thermal oilsands project.

Wilkinson Orders Federal Environmental Assessment for Vista Coal Mine Expansion

Environment and Climate Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is earning praise for ordering a federal environmental review of the proposed Vista coal mine expansion near Hinton, in the Rocky Mountain foothills of Alberta, reversing an earlier decision after facing intense pushback from the Louis Bull Tribe, the Stoney Lakoda Nation, and Ecojustice.

Robinson: Canada’s Climate Inaction Could Undermine ‘Historic Reputation for Environmental Leadership’

Canada is at risk of undermining its “historic reputation for environmental leadership” if it fails to match its words on climate change and an ambitious green recovery with action, former Irish president and United Nations human rights commissioner Mary Robinson writes in a post this week for the Globe and Mail.

Houston Flood Protection Funding Prioritizes Disadvantaged Neighbourhoods, Generates Status Quo Pushback

After years of being left without flood protection—with all support earmarked for the coastal properties of the wealthy—Houston’s low-lying neighbourhoods have found champions in policy-makers determined to prioritize the protection of those who would face a more difficult recovery. But not everyone appreciates this application of environmental justice.

McKinsey Predicts Florida Losing $30B in Home Values in 10 Years

$44-Million Transmission Line Will Connect New Wind Farm on PEI

Keystone Backer TC Energy Touts Pumped Storage Project in Ontario

Cities Put More Emphasis on ‘Food Forests’

U.S. Coal Utility Alliant Pledges Net-Zero Carbon by 2050

COVID Forces Hawai’i Hurricane Shelters to Take Temperatures at the Door

No-Fly Campaigners Decry Cancellation of Eurostar Ski Train

Heat Waves, COVID Mean Higher Power Bills

Scottish Utility SSE Aims to Become Green ‘Supermajor’

Siemens Energy Plans to Boost Renewables Investment

RBC Becomes First Canadian Bank to Sign Renewable Energy Purchase Agreement

The Royal Bank of Canada, the country’s largest chartered bank and one of its biggest boosters for new fossil infrastructure, is dipping its toe in the world of renewable energy finance by buying into two new solar farms producing a combined 39 megawatts of electricity in southeast Alberta.

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. 

UK’s First Local Green Bond to Raise £1 Million for Solar Projects

Canary Wharf Promises 65% Emissions Cut by 2030

London Underground Could Soon Run on 100% Renewables

Doug Ford Ontario government

Auditor General to Probe Ontario Recovery Package for Environmental Rights Violations

The Doug Ford government in Ontario passed its economic recovery legislation last week despite warnings from Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk the massive omnibus bill could violate the province’s Environmental Bill of Rights. Now an opposition MPP is asking the AG to investigate.

Ohio Plans Repeal of Coal, Nuclear Bailout After Bribery Scandal Snares House Speaker

The outsized political power of U.S. utilities has come into sharp focus over the last 10 days, with bribery scandals in Ohio and Illinois reaching senior politicians in both states, including the speakers of both state houses.

Plastics in America Are a ‘Story of Environmental Racism’

The story of plastics in America is a story of environmental racism, with Black and Indigenous communities both far more likely both to purchase and use plastics, lack access to recycling, and live in hot zones for waste incineration that exposes them to a slew of harms, writes urban sustainability campaigner Chante Harris in a guest post for Anti-Racism Daily.

Place Indigenous Youth at Centre of Clean Energy Partnerships, McCarthy and Morrison Urge

Ottawa and the provinces must work harder to support Canada’s Indigenous peoples in becoming full partners in the clean energy transition—and Indigenous youth need to be encouraged, mentored, and supported to lead those partnerships, according to a recent opinion piece in iPolitics.

73% in B.C. Support Just, Sustainable Transition

The majority of British Columbians support a more just, sustainable transition into a post-pandemic economy, according to online poll results released last week by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Storage Can Speed Transition to Renewable Grid, But Obstacles Remain, Study Finds

Increased reliance on electricity storage will make it easier for established power grids to retire their coal- and gas-fired power plants, postpone pricey and often controversial transmission line expansions, and get more output from the renewable energy installations they invest in, according to a new study in the journal Applied Energy.

New Mexico Wants Fossils to Capture 98% of Methane

TTC Considers Fast-Tracking Dedicated Bus Lanes

Construction Starts Next Month on Yukon’s Biggest Solar Project

California Installs Biggest Utility Battery in U.S.

Community Calls for First-Year Audit of New York State Climate Plan

UK Energy Efficiency Push Only Offers 1/3 of Required Funds

Pandemic Brings Cities Five Lessons About Circular Societies

Paris Rooftop Holds World’s Biggest Urban Farm

Task Force Urges $50B for ‘Bold’, Resilient Recovery, Including $27B for Building Retrofits

An independent task force of Canadian finance and policy experts is calling on the federal government to invest C$50 billion over the next five years in five “bold moves for a resilient recovery”, with a $27-billion building energy retrofit program leading a list of 22 specific policy measures.

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.

Coalition Urges Ontario to Phase Out Gas-Fired Electricity by 2030 [Sign-On]

Nearly three dozen local, provincial, and national organizations are calling on Ontario to phase out its pricey natural gas power plants and abandon a plan that would increase carbon pollution from burning gas 300% by 2025 and 400% by 2040.

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.

Roadbuilding Plans will ‘Scupper’ UK Carbon Targets

EU European Union

EU Treats Climate as ‘Pawn in Bigger Negotiation’, Adopts World’s Greenest Stimulus with Too Little Enforcement

Just a day after declaring it a “mission impossible”, leaders of 27 European countries finalized a COVID-19 recovery plan and seven-year budget worth €1.8 trillion, with nearly one-third of the total set aside for climate measures but reduced funding to key climate initiatives and only limited “green strings” to prevent investments in polluting industries.

Keystone XL Faces New Lawsuit Over Environmental Permitting Process

The Nebraska-based Bold Alliance launched yet another legal challenge to the Keystone XL pipeline last week, after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision to halt construction due to a faulty environmental permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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.

South Korea Fails to Adopt Net-Zero Deadline with New Green Investment Plan

South Korea stepped back from setting a deadline for phasing out its greenhouse gas emissions last week is it unveiled a ₩42.7-trillion/US$35-billion plan to invest in renewable energy and environmental infrastructure.

Alberta’s Environmental Monitoring Suspension Broke Agreement with NWT

Exxon Court Case in Colorado Moves to Next Stage

Latest Lockdown to Drive Down California Gasoline Demand

Pandemic Doesn’t Stop Maine from Pushing EV Charging

Florida Power & Light Plans 750 MW of New Solar by 2024

California Explores Microgrids as Wildfire Management Tool

University of Minnesota Campus Declares Itself Carbon-Neutral

Indiana Firm Touts Regenerative Farming

$2.7-Trillion in Ecosystem Investments Would Generate 400 Million Jobs: WEF

A yearly investment of US$2.7 trillion in ecosystem health would reap an annual 400 million jobs and $10 trillion in returns through 2030, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum, prompting the study authors to urge policy-makers to make restoration of the devastated natural world a cornerstone of all pandemic recovery efforts.

Wilkinson Sets End-of-July Deadline to Decide on Vista Coal Mine Review

Environment and Climate Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has given himself until the end of this month to decide whether to order a federal environmental assessment of a controversial expansion plan for the Vista coal mine near Hinton, Alberta.

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.

Building Back Better Could Prevent 112,000 Premature Deaths, Canadian Doctors Say

Meeting Canada’s climate targets could prevent 112,000 premature deaths between 2030 and 2050 due to air quality improvements alone, but achieving those gains will depend on the investments governments make today, according to new modelling released by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

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.

Sea Level Rise Drives ‘Extraordinary’ Flooding on U.S. Atlantic, Gulf Coasts

The Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States have seen an “extraordinary” increase in high-tide flooding since 2000, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported earlier this week, a five-fold increase in frequency that is “damaging homes, imperiling the safety of drinking water, inundating roads, and otherwise hurting coastal communities,” the New York Times writes.

Alberta Regulator Taps Kenney’s Climate-Denying Ex-Campaign Manager as Science VP

The Alberta Energy Regulator has hired Premier Jason Kenney’s former campaign manager, climate denier John Weissenberger, as its vice president of science and innovation.

Alberta First Nation Plans New Tar Sands/Oil Sands Project

Indiana Solar Farm Will Make Place for Pollinators

Illinois School to Install Eight Acres of Solar Panels

Toronto’s Cordelio Power Buys Two Illinois Wind Projects

Storage Project Will Help Iowa Town Add More Rooftop Solar

Wisconsin’s New PSC Commissioner Calls for ‘Utility-Scale Makeover’

Fossil Ghostwriters Produce North Dakota Legislators’ Pro-Pipeline Letters

Ontario’s Bruce County Gears Up to Fight High-Level Rad Waste Dump

Biden’s $2-Trillion Plan Points to Climate as Key Draw for Younger, First-Time Voters

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden unveiled a four-year, US$2-trillion climate strategy yesterday that represented a major acceleration from his previous plan. It was interpreted as a sign that his party sees climate change as an issue that will drive voters to the polls this fall, drawing crucial support from younger and first-time voters.

Radwanski: Canada Cautious on Green Recovery Despite Pledging Climate Leadership

With governments elsewhere unveiling ambitious green stimulus plans in response to the economic crash brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has been unaccountably cautious to join the club, Globe and Mail columnist Adam Radwanski writes in a post published earlier this week.

Chicago’s 1995 Heat Wave Predicted ‘Baked-In’ Racism in COVID-19 Deaths

In a bitter echo of the disproportionate suffering seen during Chicago’s killing heat wave of 1995, Black residents of the city are now facing a similar onslaught from the coronavirus pandemic, an injustice owing to “baked in” structural racism, says a former chief medical officer for the Windy City.

Open Letter to Wilkinson Urges Environmental Assessment for Vista Coal Mine Expansion

A group of 47 Canadian environmental, Indigenous, health, civil society, and faith organizations issued an open letter this week calling on Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to order an environmental assessment for Coalspur Mines Ltd.’s plan to expand its Vista mine near Hinton, Alberta.

Coal-Dependent Jakarta Sees Air Quality Worsen During Lockdown

In a reversal of a trend seen in other major cities in Southeast Asia, Jakarta’s air quality actually got worse during the traffic-squelching pandemic lockdown. Air quality experts are largely blaming the dozen coal plants that supply the Indonesian megalopolis with power—while killing tens of thousands of city residents annually and delivering poor birth weights to thousands of babies.

Halifax Weighs 30-Year Climate Crisis Plan

Oregon Utility Issues Massive Tender for 4.3 GW of Solar, Wind, Storage

New Mexico Looks to Solar+Storage to Replace Massive San Juan Coal Plant