SNAPSHOT: A Year of Climate Extremes

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2018 was another year of hell and high water as the extreme weather impacts predicted by decades of climate science and advocacy continued to accelerate. The rolling series of storms, floods, wildfires, severe heat, and drought produced a constant stream of headlines from around the world, making the human and ecological devastation of extreme weather one of the toughest but most important aspects of the climate change story.

The year opened with daunting but hardly surprising reports that an unstable global climate did record damage in 2017, with all the evidence pointing to the need for faster action on greenhouse gas reductions. Insurers warned of a $1.7-trillion gap in severe weather coverage over the next 10 years, while the U.S. National Institute of Building Sciences said investments in climate resilience pay off sixfold. In the run-up to a landmark report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in September, stressing the urgency of a 1.5°C target for average global warming, a small avalanche of studies and reports showed that the 2.0°C “guardrail” previously suggested by climate science would be insufficient to hold off severe impacts around the world.

While much of the news coverage of extreme weather focused on impacts in developed countries, governments and climate justice advocates continually reminded the rest of the world that the poorest countries and regions are almost invariably the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As the 2018 United Nations climate conference in Katowice approached, the Climate Vulnerable Forum held a “carbon-free” virtual forum that demanded 1.5°C action for the world’s most vulnerable nations.

Severe Storms and Floods

At one time or another in 2018 just about every part of the world saw the extreme impacts of severe storms and flooding. While not every storm (or wildfire, heat wave, or drought) could be linked directly to the climate crisis, it’s settled science that climate change “loads the dice” for extreme weather events, making them more frequent and severe. The year also saw improvements in the science that allows attribution of specific events, pointing toward an emerging opportunity for litigation and liability focused on climate polluters.

The local impacts of severe storms and floods were chilling, and often heart-rending. A flash flood in Jordan in late October killed 18 people, most of them children and teachers on a school trip. A mudslide in Montecito, California, left 17 dead, 40 missing, and the immediate area looking like a First World War battlefield. An intense hurricane literally wiped a small Hawaiian island off the map, and Typhoon Mangkhut killed 64 in the Philippines before continuing on to southern China and Hong Kong, just a couple of weeks after another typhoon sent an empty fuel tanker careening into a bridge in Japan. Floods and landslides killed 200 people in Japan, even as the country missed an opportunity for a shift to renewable energy, and Fiji entered a frightening new era of extreme weather. Late autumn storms killed six people across northern Italy and flooded 70% of historic Venice.

In Canada, British Columbia endured heavy flooding in mid-May as it prepared for the approaching wildfire season. New Brunswick warned of possible municipal sewage contamination as floodwaters hit record levels, and a review of historical records showed the country’s weather getting wilder. One of a half-dozen tornadoes that suddenly hit Ottawa September 21 turned a beloved, wooded neighbourhood into a logging camp, and the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op pointed to the need and opportunity to build a more resilient, distributed local electricity system.

A Harvard University study concluded that 4,645 people died as a result of Hurricane María in 2017—73 times the official estimate from the U.S. government under Donald Trump—and hurricanes cost the Caribbean $3 billion in tourist revenue in 2017.

Boston confronted two “100-year storms” within weeks. Hurricane Florence bore down on North Carolina, a state that had previously tried to legislate sea level rise out of existence, eventually turning North and South Carolina into an archipelago until drenching floodwaters dissipated. The experience prompted North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to set a 2025 deadline to reduce his state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40%.

Less than a month later, a super-heated ocean boosted Hurricane Michael into a 250-kilometre-per-hour monster that churned through an impoverished part of the Florida Panhandle. Gaps in emergency response had some survivors worried that “they’re doing us like they did New Orleans.”

Fire and Heat

At mid-year, wildfires and heat emergencies were sweeping North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Eurasia, with the constant stream of news showing signs of finally burning climate denial to the ground.

Veteran climate hawk and meteorologist Eric Holthaus pointed to the firestorms sweeping much of the western United States as evidence that a new era of “fire tsunamis” has begun. “You can imagine standing in front of a tsunami or tornado and trying to stop it from destroying homes,” incident commander Ben Brack told the Denver Post. “A human response is ineffective.”

“The official term for the hellish meteorological event that hit La Veta [Colorado] is a ‘firestorm,’ a self-propelling explosion of flame generated by strong and gusty winds from a particularly intense fire over extremely dry terrain,” Holthaus explained. “When a fire gets hot enough, it can generate its own weather conditions and wind speeds can approach hurricane force, drying out the surrounding land.” U.S. firefighters got their first taste of a “fire tornado,” and a similar incident grabbed a responder’s hose and pulled it 100 feet in the air before letting go. “Sorry for the profanity,” wrote Vanderhoof, B.C., firefighter M.C. Schidlowsky at the end of an incident video on her Instagram feed.

A climate impact assessment pointed to wildfires as one part of the “apocalyptic threat” California faces if climate change is not brought under control, after an earlier assessment found that the state’s private utilities lost $20 billion in value after a prior round of blazes. Within months, both assessments were out of date, as the Camp Fire near Sacramento became the worst conflagration in California history, killing at least 85 people and destroying 14,000 homes.

British Columbia declared a(nother) state of emergency in late August in response to an epic wildfire season, as smoke from the province’s more than 600 fires worsened air quality in many parts of Canada. Analysts and activists connected dots between a year of severe climate impacts and energy policies destined to make the problem worse—including Ottawa’s decision to buy a leaky, 65-year-old pipeline from Houston-based Kinder Morgan.

An after-action review found that the emergency response to the Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016 largely neglected nearby Indigenous communities, even as it relied on some of them to shelter evacuees. Studies found that drought and heat make it tougher for forests to regenerate after a fire, that intense, repeat wildfires pollute rivers and threaten water supplies, and that homes destroyed in fires produce a disturbing spike in airborne toxic compounds. Fire, drought, and insect infestations were putting large swaths of the Canadian boreal forest at risk, and a new round of boreal mapping pointed toward future increases in all three.

Extreme Temperatures and Drought

Drought, extreme heat, and, sometimes, extreme cold showed that climate change is about a far wider range of localized effects than just “global warming.” The Washington Post captured a snapshot of the story at mid-summer: from scorching high temperatures in the Middle East and Southern California, to 51.3°C heat in Ouargla, Algeria, that set a record for all of Africa. North America set or tied temperature records in Montreal; Ottawa; Los Angeles; Denver; Mount Washington, New Hampshire; and Burlington, Vermont. A northeastern “heat dome” brought stifling temperatures above 100°F to Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, DC. While “no single record, in isolation, can be attributed to global warming,” the Post wrote, “collectively, these heat records are consistent with the kind of extremes we expect to see increase in a warming world.”

In Siberia, while actual weather observations are scarce, modelling put the temperature above 32°C July 5, more than 22°C above normal. “It is absolutely incredible and really one of the most intense heat events I’ve ever seen for so far north,” wrote meteorologist and blogger Nick Humphrey.

Record highs were recorded in Glasgow, Belfast, and Shannon in Ireland; Castlederg in Northern Ireland; Tbilisi, Georgia, and Yerevan, Armenia, in Eurasia; several locations in southern Russia; and in the Middle East in Quriyat, Oman. And experience in Iran showed that it didn’t take record high heat to trigger public protests, a violent response, and at least one strange burst of paranoia from a senior public official.

European cities were on track for more severe climate impacts. Studies linked a winter deep freeze across much of North America to climate change and found a strong correlation between Arctic warming and wacky winter weather, while a massive storm pushed temperatures at the North Pole 30°C higher than normal. The world’s oceans marked the warmest recorded temperatures in 2017.

Farmworkers in the United States were dying of heat-related illness, and 70 people in southern Quebec, most of them impoverished, died in a summer heat wave. An Omani fishing village endured a record 24-hour period in which the low temperature was 42.6°C, and a heat wave in Karachi, Pakistan, killed at least 65 people. A study found that 3.0°C average global warming would lead to a fivefold increase in heat waves in Africa. A sweltering summer left 72% of Britons concerned about climate change; Alaskans faced severe impacts due to surging Arctic temperatures; Colorado ski operators stood to lose billions of dollars due to warmer, drier winters; and an early snow drought was expected to cut reservoir levels, resulting in billions in costs across the western United States.

Cape Town, South Africa, was on track to run out of water on April 22, until the imminent threat of Day Zero prompted residents to cut their per capita consumption by half.

Human Impacts and the Way Forward

Droughts and floods drove global hunger to a 10-year high, wiping out previous gains and prompting United Nations agencies to call for greater emphasis on climate resilience. A migrant caravan from Central America heading toward the United States was driven primarily by climate-induced drought, and millions around the world were being displaced each year by climate impacts, while the Trump administration scaled back its quota for incoming refugees. The poorest and most marginalized bore the brunt as air pollution killed eight million people per year, and many young adults faced a wrenching ethical dilemma as they weighed whether to become parents.

Analysis showed that the economic costs of climate change will hit hardest in India and the United States, placed the annual cost of unchecked sea level rise at $27 trillion by 2100, and stressed that compensation for loss and damage—the unavoidable costs that vulnerable countries and regions face due to climate disasters—must push beyond market-based measures like insurance.

Puerto Rico was in the midst of a major mental health crisis a year after Hurricane María, and Fort McMurray faced higher rates of depression, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress after its 2016 wildfire. British Columbia unveiled a mental health plan for 2017 wildfire evacuees just as its 2018 wildfire season kicked off, and the overwhelming devastation from Hurricane Florence hit poor and rural North Carolinians the hardest. Australian farmers demanded practical solutions to the climatic changes they could see unfolding before their eyes, local solar installations pointed toward a better way to rebuild Puerto Rico, and a study found that a suite of urban solutions could free billions of people from climate impacts by 2050.

Media largely missed the memo on the urgency of the IPCC report on 1.5°C pathways, a new Canadian climate atlas showed that the crisis is real, and Texas fossils—without a trace of irony—sought federal government funding to protect their vulnerable, greenhouse gas-producing operations from climate change.


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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.

Indigenous Campaigners in India Dig In Against World’s Second-Biggest Coal Mine

A collection of 53 hamlets in Birbhum district of West Bengal has become an epicentre of the fight against what could become the world’s second-biggest coal mine, with Indigenous campaigners warning the project would likely lead to the eviction of 70,000 people, many of whom have been farming the area for generations.

Study Finds Parallels Between Climate, COVID Denial

Local Council Turns Thumbs Down on PEI Wind Farm Expansion

Smarter Supply Chains Needed to Counter Global Food Waste

Rapid Warming Triggers Alaska Landslides, Tsunami Risk

Korean Utility Cancels Investment in South African Coal Plant

Mars Dumps Hundreds of Suppliers, Claims ‘Deforestation-Free’ Palm Oil


Intense Wildfire Season Fuels Mental Health Crisis for Firefighters

As government agencies in the U.S. scramble to respond to a coming wave of mental health issues among stressed, exhausted, and traumatized wildland firefighters, union officials and mental health experts are calling for more critical days of rest, mental health benefits, and investments in fuel modification.

Study Shows Higher Radiation Levels Downwind of U.S. Fracking Sites

Add airborne radioactivity to the long list of hazards from oil and gas fracking sites, a team of Harvard University researchers advises, in a new study in the journal Nature Communications.

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.

Climate, Conflict, Poverty Displace Tens of Millions, Drive ‘Alarming Deterioration’ in Sahel

The climate crisis is one of the factors making the Sahel region of Africa one of the scariest places on the planet, becoming “a true epicentre of conflict and insecurity, weak governance, chronic underdevelopment and poverty, demographic pressures,” and climate change itself, the head of the United Nations humanitarian program warned in a recent online lecture.

Climate Extremes Turn Australian Schools Into ‘Heat Traps’ for Kids, Teachers

Insurance Exec Sees Costs of Inaction Far Exceeding Green Recovery Investments

Home Retrofit Program Tackles Nova Scotia’s Carbon Footprint

Campaigners Defeat Trump Plan for Seismic Testing Off Atlantic Coast

COVID-Driven Service Cuts Could Curb Transit Access for 2.1 Million Riders in Nine U.S. Cities

Too Much Sun Can Degrade Anti-Corrosion Coating on Pipelines

New Flood Defences Protect Venice Twice in October

Fossil Traders Say Work from Home Boosts Demand for Gas Heat

Tech Start-Up Upcycles Sugarcane Waste for Plastic-Free Packaging

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.

As Economic Divide Widens, Debt Impedes Vulnerable Countries from Building Back Better

Vulnerable countries will be forced to choose immediate survival over climate action should the rest of the world fail to commit to more effective debt relief, climate resilience funding, and the wholesale renovation of international tax laws, say sustainable development experts.

Net-Zero Commitment Could Bring Australia $63 Billion in New Investment by 2025

A commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050 from Australia’s notoriously coal-friendly government would unlock A$63 billion in new investment over the next five years and open up carbon farming as a major new opportunity, according to new analysis commissioned by a group of institutional investors that deliberately looks beyond the even bigger opportunities in renewable energy.

U.S.–Mexico Water Rights Standoff Kills Protester, Points to Risk of Future Climate Conflict

The climate crisis is exacerbating long-standing tensions over water rights between Mexico and the United States—tensions that exploded last month to lethal effect when Mexican national guardsmen killed a young farmer.

New Interactive Map Shows 10% Rise in Atmospheric Methane Over Two Decades

A Montreal company has released a new interactive map of global methane concentrations in the hope that it will inspire questions and provoke discussion.

Delayed Arctic Ice Freeze Could Affect Whole Polar Region

U.S. Homebuyers Receive Few Warnings of Flood, Wildfire Risk

Trump Moves to Open Tongass National Forest to Logging

Iowa Nuclear Plant Won’t Reopen After ‘Extensive’ Storm Damage

UN Agency Connects Geothermal to Food and Agriculture

German Defence Minister Sees ‘Momentous’ Challenge in Climate Change

Rising Seas Sharpen Miami’s Social Divide

Warming Could Bring More Moisture, Fewer Sunny Days in Top Solar Regions

P95 Mask Photo Shows Impact of a Few Hours of Wildfire Smoke

Bigger Wind Turbines Can Help Reduce Bird Strikes

Soil Carbon Conservation Boosts Farmland Health, Productivity

Regenerative Ag Includes Financially Sustainable Family Farms

Alberta Government Lays Out Welcome Mat for Australian Coal Mining Interests

The Jason Kenney government in Alberta has laid down the red carpet for heavyweight Australian mining interests that want to bring mountaintop removal coal mining to a vast swath of the southern Rockies. And with at-risk ecosystems and their own livelihoods at stake, local farmers and ranchers are fighting back.

Vancouver Fossil’s Oil Drilling Plan Alarms Local Environmentalists in Southern Africa

A fossil company based in British Columbia is raising alarms with environmentalists in southern Africa with plans to touch off an oil boom in Kavango Basin, in the Kalahari region of Namibia and Botswana.

Maui Files Lawsuit to Recover Climate Damages from 20 Fossil Companies

Maui County in Hawaii has filed a lawsuit against 20 oil and gas companies, including colossal fossils ExxonMobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips, hoping to secure compensation for the rising costs the community faces due to climate change.

#TBT: Six-Year-Old Wildland Filmmaker Visits 2015 White House, Gets High-Five, Finds Decency

It’s been 5½ years and feels like half a lifetime since six-year-old wildland filmmaker Noah Gue visited Washington, DC, got a high-five, and encountered decency when he attended the Second Annual White House Student Film Festival.

U.S. Regulator Allows Mountain Valley Pipeline Construction to Restart

Corona Pushes German Commuters from Transit to Cars

Michigan Governor Whitmer Pledges Carbon-Neutral by 2050

Clean Water Wins as Ohio Regulator Nixes Fracking Storage Permits

Meeting Paris Targets Would Mitigate Extreme Rainfall in Caribbean

Urban Heat Islands Intensify UK Heat Waves by Up to 5°C

Nighttimes Warming Faster than Days as Climate Change Takes Hold

Species Shifts May Be Driven by Climate Extremes More than Means

Conservation Can Restore Endangered Soils as Time Runs Out

BREAKING: First Nations Fear ‘Losing Everything’ as Communities Face ‘Climate Exacerbated Food Poverty’

Indigenous people who live off the land are increasingly at risk of food insecurity and the health problems it causes thanks to federal policies that ignore the impacts of climate change on traditional foods, concludes an 18-month study released this morning.

‘Rewilding’ Could Help Avert 70% of Predicted Extinctions, Create Carbon Sinks

Targeted restoration of 30% of the world’s agricultural lands to their original wild state coupled with equally focused conservation efforts could prevent 70% of predicted extinctions and sequester the equivalent of 50% of the CO2 emissions humanity has generated since the Industrial Revolution—all without compromising food security.

Coloradans Urge Canadian Pension Holders to Stop Investing in Denver-Based Fracking Company [Video]

With the Canada Pension Plan’s biannual public meetings under way this week, people from across Colorado have put together a series of video messages asking Canadian pension holders to stop funding fossil fuel companies—particularly Denver-based Crestone Peak Resources, a company 95% owned by the CPP.

Millions Face ‘Uninhabitable Hell’ if Emissions Aren’t Reduced, UN Agency Warns

A staggering increase in natural disasters over the last 20 years shows the risk of the Earth becoming an “uninhabitable hell for millions of people” if climate change isn’t brought under control, a United Nations agency warned in a report issued last week.

Federal Nuclear Funding Announcement a ‘Dirty, Dangerous Distraction’, 30 Groups Warn

A collection of 30 local, regional, and national public interest organizations from across the country is rallying against next-generation nuclear power development after the federal government announced a C$20-million infusion for the industry tied to its 2050 net-zero emissions target.

Inventor Combines Physics with Ancient Knowledge to Create Fuel-Free Cooling System

A fundamental law of physics coupled with 21st-century nanotechnology has yielded a product that could significantly reduce the emissions generated by the world’s 3.5 billion-plus air conditioners and refrigerators—at low cost.

Small Island States Speed Up the Shift from Imported Fossils to Local Solar, Wind

Small island states are working to accelerate the shift from imported fossil fuels to their own renewable energy resources, both to protect themselves from unpredictable global prices for oil and gas and to take a lead in addressing a climate crisis that is already endangering their safety—and in some cases, their very existence as countries.

Tackling Plastic Waste Crisis Means Total System Overhaul, Not Bioplastics

Expensive to make and less versatile than their fossil-based cousins, bioplastic products are not the solution to the world’s plastic woes—and are by no means as biodegradable as consumers are led to think, a new study concludes.

Warming Kills Half of Great Barrier Reef Corals in 25 Years

Labrador-Quebec Caribou Herd Shows First Population Increase in 25 Years

30% of Gulf of Mexico Oil Production Still Offline after Hurricane Delta

Climate Change Since 2000 Will Harm U.S. Economy Through 2050

Boston Invites Bids on Urban Forest Plan

Climate Produces Risks for Fossil Plant Operations

Nigeria Carbon Target at Risk as Flaring Reduction Plan Stalls

Report Puts Two-Fifths of World’s Plants at Risk of Extinction

Flowers Change Colour to Adapt to Climate Change

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.

Physicians Urge B.C. to Shift from Gas to Electric Appliances

Worst Drought Since 2013 Spans 45% of Lower 48 U.S. States

Japan to Release Contaminated Fukushima Water into Ocean

Edmonton Utility Pushes Solar Project Over First Nations’, Green Groups’ Objections

Microgrids Could Step Up as Wildfires Cut California Solar Output

Climate Impacts, Violence Could Displace 15 Million This Year

Meteorologists Warn Germany to Prepare for More Frequent, Intense Storms

Insurer Warns of Ecosystem Collapse in One-Fifth of Countries, Imperiling $42 Trillion in Global GDP

A new report from insurance giant Swiss Re Group warns that more than half of global GDP—totalling US$42 trillion—is in peril, as climate change brings biodiversity to a tipping point and puts 20% of the world’s countries at risk of ecosystem collapse.

P&G Shareholders Vote Overwhelmingly for Action on Deforestation, Climate Impacts

Boreal forest campaigners at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) were taking a victory lap this week, after Procter & Gamble shareholders voted overwhelmingly for the U.S. consumer products giant to eliminate deforestation and intact forest degradation from its supply chain.

Navajo Ranchers Endure in the Face of Relentless Drought

Navajo Nation ranchers in the southwestern United States are holding resolute in their work despite two decades of drought, centuries of abused or broken water rights, and, now, grief over loved ones lost to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tinder-Dry Canadian Peatlands Becoming a Ticking Carbon Bomb

Recent work by Canadian ecohydrologists on the devastating 2018 peatland fire near Parry Sound, Ontario has confirmed related findings from around the globe: the Earth’s peatlands are drying out as temperatures rise, creating carbon-bomb tinder boxes.

Pandemic Produces Biggest Emissions Drop Ever in First Half of 2020

EU Sends Anti-Terror Aid to Mozambique After Request from LNG Fossil Total

NS Plans Climate Resilience Review for Public Housing Units

Climate Drove Algae Blooms that Killed 330 Botswana Elephants

Ethiopia, Egypt Launch Cyber-War for Water

Sea Level Rise Could Claim 40% of O’ahu Beaches by 2050

Wildfire Specialists Cast Community Destruction as Home Ignition Problem

Air Pollution ‘Nanoparticles’ Linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s

New research is showing a link between pollution “nanoparticles” and the forms of molecular damage that are hallmarks of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. While causality has yet to be confirmed, experts are sounding the alarm, given that polluted air is a day-to-day reality for 90% of the world’s population.

Hurricane Delta Hits Louisiana Just Six Weeks After Hurricane Laura’s Devastation

Hurricane Delta tore into a part of Louisiana that was still recovering from Hurricane Laura just six weeks earlier, landing as a Category 2 storm that flooded hundreds of buildings that had already been damaged by the previous Category 4 disaster.

2020 Ties U.S. Record for Most Damaging Climate Disasters

2020 has already tied the U.S. record for the largest number of climate disasters that produced at least US$1 billion in damage. And the year still has nearly three months to go.

Emissions of Super-Pollutant Nitrous Oxide Rising on ‘Worst-Case’ Trajectory

Global emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) are rising on a frightening scale, putting them on track to single-handedly push global warming far beyond the limits of the Paris Agreement, according to a new study.

U.S. Corona Plan Hands $5B to 133 Fossils with No Strings Attached

Amazon Biomass Collapse Leads to Uncounted Carbon Losses

Survey Shows Canadians Wasting Less Food During Pandemic

Indonesia Land Reserve is First to Gain Third-Party Verification

$100B in Stimulus to Advanced Energy Would Bring California $700B in Benefits

News Outlets Still Give Voice to ‘Dangerous, Outdated’ Climate Views

Study Scopes Impacts of Drought on North American Health, Society

Canada’s Plastics Reduction Plan Earns Praise, Criticism

The Canadian government’s declared intent to ban certain single-use plastics and start leading on recycled content standards and extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs has met with backlash, praise, and demands that more be done.

Study: Hotter Days, No A/C Brings Lower Test Scores for Black, Latinx Students

A new study has correlated warmer air temperatures with lower test scores among Black and Latinx students in the United States, likely because they’re less likely than their white peers to have air conditioning in their homes or—most notably—their schools.

Wildfire Smoke Cuts Into California Solar Production

Severe smoke from the wildfires that have been sweeping parts of California reduced power output from the state’s utility-scale solar installations by 13% in the first two weeks of September, even after factoring in a significant gain in solar capacity compared to the previous year.

Fox News Viewers More Likely to Doubt Human Role in Climate Crisis

A study by climate communicators at Yale University has found that the majority of people who regularly watch U.S. news networks are concerned about climate change and believe it is human-caused—except, that is, for Fox News viewers, many of whom put it down to natural changes.

Greenland Ice Melting at Fastest Rate in 12,000 Years

Climate Brings Coastal Problems to U.S. Side of Lake Ontario

Mississippi, Tennessee Haggle Over Aquifer as Water Levels Drop

P&G Faces Shareholder Resolution on Toilet Tissue Deforestation

Pakistan Largely Ignores ‘Ferocious, Imminent’ Dangers of Climate Change

Russian Arctic Reports New Wave of Methane Eruptions

Pandemic Produces Questions about Fossil Subsidies

U.S. Fossils Face Backlash Over Arctic Drilling

Majority of Europeans Want Palm Oil, Soy Out of Diesel

No-Strings Federal Bailout for Newfoundland Fossils Followed Rushed, Incomplete Impact Assessment

Three leading environmental organizations are criticizing Ottawa’s decision to hand over C$320 million to the offshore oil sector in Newfoundland and Labrador, after a federal science review found fault with a new regulation that permits new exploratory drilling projects without further environmental assessment or public input.

California Fires Torch Record-Breaking Four Million Acres…So Far

California set a tragic record this week, with more than four million acres (16,180 square kilometres) burned. And there are still at least two months to go in the state’s current fire season.

Review Finds Michigan Underwater Pipeline Tunnel Plan ‘Riddled with Hazards’

Enbridge’s plans to build a pipeline tunnel to carry oil beneath a waterway linking Lake Michigan to Lake Huron are below industry standard and riddled with hazards, according to a group of experts asked to evaluate the project.

Loopholes Allow 84% of Heavy Fuel Oil Use to Continue

Permanent Bloor-Danforth Bike Lanes Would Prevent Injuries, Deaths

Dry Monsoon Season Leaves Much of U.S. Southwest Parched

Projection Shows Drop in Indonesia Coal Use

Fossils Plan to Rebuild Business by Flooding Africa with Plastics

Cities Must Begin Planning for Millions of Climate Migrants

Forest Fires Prompt State of Emergency in Paraguay

BBC Reveals Russia’s ‘Slow-Moving Chernobyl’ at Sea

Analysts Say Slower Auto Sales Won’t Crimp EV Demand

EXCLUSIVE: Royal Bank’s ‘Baby Step’ on Fossil Divestment the ‘Least They Could Do’, Climate Analysts Say

The Royal Bank of Canada’s announcement late last week that it will restrict investments in some fossil fuel projects was a “baby step” and just the first of many it will have to take to “move into a zero-carbon future,” two veteran climate analysts told The Energy Mix yesterday.

Nature-Based Solutions Risk a Greenwashing ‘Circus,’ Says International Coalition

An international coalition of NGOs and Indigenous groups is warning that the net-zero emissions concept has become little more than a licence to pollute as governments and fossils leverage their version of “nature-based solutions” to dodge the heavy lifting of actual emissions cuts.

Global Survey Reveals Wide Support for an Equitable ‘New Normal’ Post-Pandemic

A global Ipsos survey conducted for the World Economic Forum this past summer reveals a deep, widely-shared desire that the world not return to its profoundly inequitable and unsustainable pre-COVID “normal”.

Prominent Canadians Demand Immediate Construction Halt at Site C

Coal Retirements Help Drive U.S. Emissions Down 2.8% in 2019

Greenpeace Says Tropical Forest Destruction Breaks Cameroon Law

Regenerated Forests Aren’t Growing Back Well, B.C. Regulator Warns

Muskrat Falls Blames Pandemic, Software Glitches for $435-Million Cost Increase

Drier Conditions Make California Fires More Intense

Wildfires Produce Bad Air This Year for One in Seven Americans

Tsunami Risk Threatens Arabian Sea Nuclear Plants

Ratings Agency Fitch Sees Continuing Lag in Asia Coal Prices

Iran Opens Naval Base at Oil ‘Chokepoint’ on Strait of Hormuz

Severe Floods Kill Two, Leave 28 Missing in Italy, France

Arctic Ocean Warming by a Degree Per Decade

Decades of Redlining Leave Poor Neighbourhoods to Suffer in Extreme Heat

UN Agency Releases Sustainable Procurement Report

Suppressed Study Shows Polar Bears at Risk from Alaska Oil and Gas Drilling

A senior Trump administration official is delaying release of a science study that shows how Alaska oil and gas drilling would encroach on the territory of endangered polar bears, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post.

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Was Preventable, Japanese High Court Rules

The devastating Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdowns and explosions in 2011 could have been prevented, a Japanese high court concluded Wednesday, in a ruling that triggered about US$9.5 million (¥1 billion) in damages for thousands of residents who lost their livelihoods and could also lead to further compensation claims.

Rapid Arctic, Antarctic Ice Loss Prompts Urgent Call for 1.5°C Action

Ice cover in the Arctic Ocean reached its second-lowest level on record, and ice melt in Antarctica is on track to raise global sea levels 2.5 metres over the very long term, according to two separate studies released in the second half of September.

New Study Places Long-Term Cost of Carbon Emissions at $100,000 Per Ton

Carbon dioxide emissions will ultimately cost humanity US$100,000 per ton, according to a shocking new study released earlier this month by the University of Chicago.

Sea Level Rise Could Trigger Carbon Loss from Coastal ‘Ghost Forests’

Quebec Cabinet Minister Touts LNG Project While Environmental Review Still Pending

Powerful Hurricanes Speed Up Loss of Louisiana Wetlands

Climate to Affect Storage Conditions for U.S. Farm Products

Cameroon Plans $3-Billion Hydropower Dam to Feed Power Exports

Brutal Insurgent Violence Edges Closer to LNG Megaproject in Mozambique

Massive Investment Needed to Avert Climate Overshoot, WoodMac Warns

Portuguese Climate Youth Sue 33 countries

Researchers Urge Supply-Side Fossil Cuts by Governments

‘Canadians Don’t Want This’: Fracking Company Owned by Canada Pension Plan Spent $600,000 to Influence Colorado State Elections

A company 95% owned by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Crestone Peak Resources, spent more than US$607,250 to shape the results of state elections in Colorado in 2018, supporting “pro-business” candidates and political action committees bent on blocking tougher regulation of controversial oil and gas fracking operations in the state.

Renewables Employed 11.5 Million in 2019, Could Approach 30 Million by 2030, IRENA Reports

Renewable energy created 11.5 million jobs around the world in 2019, up from 11 million in 2018, according to the latest in a series of annual reviews released this week by the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Landmark Arctic Climate Voyage Accused of Sexual Harassment, Gender Disparities

A massive climate research project celebrated as the world’s largest-ever Arctic expedition is under fire for gender disparities in work assignments and creating an unwelcoming atmosphere for women, after managers imposed a dress code to prevent the women onboard the ship from becoming a “distraction” to their male colleagues.

Hundreds of Toxic U.S. Superfund Sites at Heightened Risk of Climate Change Impacts

More than two-thirds of the 1,334 Superfund sites that currently blight the U.S. are increasingly at risk of serious climate change impacts—but that hasn’t stopped the White House from doubling down on denial while slashing funds earmarked for remediation.

Chad Risks World Heritage Status for Iconic Lake in Exchange for Fossil Dollars

A two-year international effort to have Lake Chad declared a UNESCO world heritage site on both cultural and environmental grounds may come to naught with the revelation that Chad has asked to put off the registration process—in order to allow it to accommodate oil and gas interests.

New Bangladesh Coal Plants Could Kill 30,000 in 30 Years

Court Restores Trespassing Charges Against Credit Suisse Protesters

U.S. Regulator Foresees Financial Havoc from Climate Change

New Chicago Transit Plan Stresses Equity

Melting Svalbard Glacier Floods Arctic Coal Mine

Controversial Carbon Removal Technique Could Drive Up Food Prices

Campaigners Publish FAQ on Oil and Gas, Poverty

South Africa’s Informal Coal Miners Push for Just Transition

Rocky Mountain Institute Urges New Approach to Cooling

Humanity Faces a ‘Climate Reckoning’, Trudeau Says, as 60 World Leaders Sign Climate-Biodiversity Pledge

The world faces a “climate reckoning”, and countries must create a more equitable international system that can confront 21st century challenges, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the United Nations General Assembly in a recorded address Friday.

Canadian Youth Climate Lawsuit to Begin Hearings This Week

Even as it declares that its recovery plans are rooted in climate action, the Canadian government is working hard to dismiss a climate injury suit launched a year ago by 15 Canadian youth activists, including a teenager from Haida Gwaii who is witnessing the devastation of rising seas first hand.

World Nuclear Industry Loses Ground to Cheap Renewables as Canada Considers Small Modular Reactors

The world nuclear industry “continues to be in stasis,” with power plants shutting down at a faster rate in western Europe and the United States, the number of operating reactor units at a 30-year low, and the few new construction projects running into “catastrophic cost overruns and schedule slippages,” according to the latest edition of the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR), released last week.

Killer Marine Heat Events Now 20 Times More Likely to Occur, Study Finds

The increasing incidence and severity of marine heat waves is directly linked to the climate crisis, says a groundbreaking report by environmental and climate physicists from Switzerland. Formerly occurring only once every thousand years, such killing surges of oceanic heat may soon come as often as once per decade.

EU Climate Plan Allows Loophole for Gas, Raises Questions About Carbon Sinks

Even as the European Union took a victory lap earlier this month for boosting its 2030 carbon reduction target from 40 to 55%, decision-makers within the sprawling EU system faced accusations that they were watering down their decarbonization effort by allowing funding for gas projects and adding carbon sink offsets to their calculations for the first time.

Corona Drives Up Food Waste, Carbon Footprint While More Go Hungry

Trudeau Promised Thunberg Two Billion Trees. None Have Been Planted.

Tropical Storm Beta Soaks Hurricane-Weary Texas

Glacier Loss Could Jeopardize Alberta Water Supplies

Here’s What a Canadian Solar Incentive Could Look Like

Managed Retreat from Flood Zones Becomes U.S. Policy

EDF Sets Three Criteria for Carbon Capture Tax Credits

Global Forest Coalition Critiques 15 Years of REDD+

Indonesia Deforestation Soared Under Pandemic Lockdown

RCP 8.5 is Still the Most Reliable Climate Scenario

U.S. Mental Health Underfunded as Multiple Disasters Drive Need

Painting Wind Turbine Blades Black Prevents 73% of Bird Kills

Corona Has Lessons for Climate Communications

Climate Hawk Declares ‘Most Progressive Throne Speech in a Generation’ as Ottawa Pledges Tougher Emission Targets, Links Cleantech to Million-Job Strategy

Climate change moved to the centre of Canada’s million-job recovery strategy, the Trudeau government pledged immediate action on more ambitious carbon reduction targets, neither the fossil nor the nuclear industry rated a single explicit mention, and a government-appointed senator was more deeply critical than many of the country’s leading campaign organizations as Governor General Julie Payette read a much-anticipated Speech from the Throne Wednesday afternoon.

Investors Shrug as Tesla Promises $25,000 EV in Three Years

While Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk promised a US$25,000 electric vehicle within three years, driven by dramatic production cost reductions and performance improvements, for battery cells, his highly-touted Battery Day event earlier this week ended up disappointing investors looking for a bigger announcement and faster results.

Canada Sets Sights on Supplying Strategic Metals for EVs

With the European Union committing to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 55% by 2030, Canada may have an opportunity to export strategic metals like nickel and cobalt that are essential parts of the supply chain for electric vehicles, sustainability author Chris Turner wrote last week for Corporate Knights.

Walmart Pledges Offset-Free Net Zero by 2040

Declaring its ambition to become a “regenerative company,” retail giant Walmart has committed to net-zero operational emissions by 2040 without the use of carbon offsets, while promising that its charitable arm will perform some of the heavy lifting to protect both terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

U.S. Military Gears Up for Major Climate Change Impacts

In sharp distinction from its commander-in-chief, the American military fully comprehends the threat of climate change—and says it is taking action, even as it maintains its own massive carbon footprint.

Prince Charles Calls for Urgent Action, Says Climate Impacts Will ‘Dwarf’ Pandemic

Wacky Weather Pushes Insured Claims to Nearly $2 Billion in Alberta

Transit Decline Due to COVID Could Cost Manufacturing Jobs in Pennsylvania

German Study Finds No Health Impact from Wind Turbine Noise

Agro-Ecology Could Drive Transition in West Africa

One Jasper Caribou Herd Extinct, Two Others on the Brink

Canada Sends 300 Firefighters to Assist in Washington, Oregon

U.S. Study Looks Into Escape Route Travel Times for Wildfire Fighters

Sustainable Ag Network Aims to Boost Profits for Farmers

Hardier Wild Strains May Help Crops Withstand Changing Climate

BREAKING: New Assessment Declares Canada’s Climate Plan ‘Insufficient’ as Throne Speech Day Dawns

With the Trudeau government just hours away from tabling its long-awaited Speech from the Throne, the international Climate Action Tracker is branding the country’s carbon reduction efforts “insufficient” and consistent with a 3.0°C world, with “little support” for green recovery measures to date.

Wilkinson Says COVID Won’t Hijack Canada’s Green Agenda as Climate Community Demands Commitments, O’Regan Touts Nuclear

On the eve of this afternoon’s Speech from the Throne, Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is declaring that the pandemic won’t hijack Canada’s green agenda, adding that “if left unaddressed, climate change will have more of an impact on Canadians than COVID-19,” CTV News reports.

Basic Income, Just Transition Depend on Each Other, Regehr Says

Sheila Regehr has been chair of the Basic Income Canada Network since 2014. She’s a retired federal public servant with years of experience working on income security, and past executive director of the National Council of Welfare. With the federal Speech from the Throne coming up today, she explains how a basic income builds up communities, reduces anxiety, and makes a whole host of problems easier to solve—including the climate crisis.

Tech Giant Google Pledges Carbon-Free Operations by 2030

Tech behemoth Google is promising to run all its operations on carbon-free electricity by 2030, and says it has bought enough carbon offsets to balance all its emissions since it began operations in 1998.

Western U.S. Wildfire Smoke Reaches Europe

Climate Community Scorches UK for Naming All-Male Leadership Team for COP 26

Suncor Shares Lose Value as Production Stalls

World’s Biggest Pork Producer Smithfield Sets Plan for Emission Cuts

Brazil Indigenous Communities Use Drones to Protect Amazon

NOAA Tags 2020 as Hottest-Ever Summer for Northern Hemisphere

Key Boreal Forest Species Face Worse Predation Due to Climate Change

Falling Oil Prices Curtail South Sudan’s Ability to Pay Fossil Workers’ Wages

Extreme Heat Pushes Down Stock Market Activity

Shift Off ‘Land-Hungry Meat and Dairy’ Can Save 16 Years of Emissions by 2050

‘No Return to Normal’: Smoke-Choked B.C. Cities Must Prepare for Worse to Come

British Columbians are being warned that this summer’s grim immersion in wildfire smoke is no anomaly, but instead a grim foreshadowing of the future in a destabilized climate that gathers ever more potential to devastate both the quality and the length of their lives.

Pre-Throne Speech Commentary Stresses Climate Impacts, Green Recovery

With the wait for the federal Speech from the Throne winding down to the last couple of days, news analysts are pointing to air quality issues in the west and the need for a clean economy industrial strategy as evidence that now is the time for the Trudeau government to embrace a green recovery.

‘Extreme Carbon Inequality’ Has Wealthiest Driving Climate Crisis: Oxfam Report

The richest 10% of the world’s population accounted for more than half of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2015, and the richest 1% in Canada emitted more than 100 times as much per capita as the poorest 50% world-wide, Oxfam and the Stockholm Environment Institute conclude, in a report to be launched during a Climate Week NYC webinar Friday morning.

New Yukon Climate Plan Benefits Mines, Limits Emission Reductions

The Yukon government’s new climate plan has been seriously weakened by its decision to create tiered emissions targets for its mining industry, rather demanding the sector rein in its emissions directly, say local environmental advocates.

West Coast Wildfires Reveal Risks in Carbon Offset Credit System

Energy economists may soon need to add a further entry to the chronicle of loss generated by this summer’s wildfire infernos: millions of carbon offset credits.

Nine Countries, 15 U.S. States Join Forces on Zero-Emission Commercial Vehicles

Canada, eight other countries, and 15 U.S. states will work together to expand zero-emission commercial vehicle manufacturing, infrastructure, and deployment, following an announcement brokered by Calstart, a U.S. clean transportation non-profit.

Snoozing EV Driver Caught Speeding, Angers Alberta Tesla Community

A Tesla driver’s recent asleep-at-the-wheel stint on autopilot on a highway south of Edmonton has left road patrols gobsmacked and Tesla devotees fuming at a behaviour they say maligns an otherwise safety-conscious crowd.

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.

Trans Mountain Threatens 67 Indigenous Historic Sites Near Kamloops

Alberta Community Felt Duped by Wind Developer’s Sales Tactics

140 California Cities, Counties Add Environmental Justice to Planning Process

Indiana Solar Ordinance Requires Pollinator-Friendly Ground Cover

U.S. Emergency Management Grants Could Open Doors for Microgrids

Africa’s 100 Million-Hectare Tree Program Falls Far Behind Schedule

Climate, COVID Drive Up Hunger in Southern Africa

Agronomists See Climate Change Boosting Rice Yields

Arctic in Permanent Shift to ‘Entirely Different Climate’, but 1.5°C Would Slow the Process

Adding to a wave of dire news about the Earth’s rapidly warming polar regions, a comprehensive new study is warning that the Arctic is beginning to change permanently to a new—and largely thawed—climate. But all is not yet lost: limiting warming to 1.5°C could substantially alter this outcome.

Countries Miss All 20 Targets Under UN Biodiversity Convention

A decade after adopting a set of biodiversity restoration goals under a United Nations treaty, countries have missed every single milestone in the effort to protect the world’s genetic diversity, food supply, health, and security, according to a report released by the UN this week.

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.

South Korean President Promises 30 More Coal Plant Closures

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

Communities at Risk, 12,000 Families Lose Land to Uganda Oil Pipeline

Insurer Files Suit Against Dike Builder in Devastating 2019 Flood

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

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.

BP Says Oil Demand Will Never Recover as OPEC, IEA Predict Continuing Losses Due to COVID

The global fossil industry is facing a parade of bad news this week, with colossal fossil BP concluding that global oil demand has already peaked, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) predicting a steeper demand drop due to the slow recovery from the pandemic, and the International Energy Agency warning that “the path ahead is treacherous”.

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.

Faster Tree Growth Leads to Shorter Lifespans, Less Carbon Storage

Climate modellers have long embraced the idea that trees flourish in warmer conditions, calculating friendly feedback loops where thriving forests create deeper carbon sinks. But a new study showing that fast-growing trees die younger has thrown cold water on this theory.

Poor Communities in Texas Still Waiting for Hurricane Relief from 2017

Arctic Ice ‘Thin and Porous’ as Ice Cover Nears Record Low

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

Texas Plan Would Store Carb