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.


Experts Brace for Disaster as Canada, U.S. Increase Oil-by-Rail Shipments

The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States—a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences.

Sketchy Carbon Accounting Turns Net-Zero Targets into ‘Weapons-Grade Greenwash’, Scientist Warns

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Rising Emissions Make Animal Protein, Dairy the ‘New Oil and Gas’, Analysts Warn

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Economic, Racial Bias Skews Cascadia’s Push to Decarbonize

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Decentralized Energy Is Critical for African Vaccine Distribution

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David Schindler, Alberta Scientist Who ‘Talked Truth to Power’, Dies at Age 80

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Study Probes Northern Permafrost Loss at 1.5°, 2.0°C Average Warming

Fort Nelson, B.C. Weighs Decision on Forest Clearing for Wood Pellets

Nevada Kicks Off Extraction Boom with ‘Hasty’ Approval of New Lithium Mine

Chicago Neighbourhood Calls Hunger Strike to Fight Pollution

Agriculture Can Gain from Solar’s ‘Great Flexibility’

Ottawa Releases Rules for National Carbon Offset System

The Trudeau government has released draft regulations that will set the rules for companies intent on buying and selling credits for projects that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

U.S. Senate Committee Vote Brings Haaland Closer to Confirmation as First Indigenous Secretary of Interior

A committee vote by a U.S. Senate Republican and the political clout of First Peoples in Alaska have brought Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) one step closer to confirmation as the United States’ first Secretary of Interior of Indigenous origin.

Alberta Regulator Clamps Down after Deadbeat Fossil Falls $67 Million Short on Cleanup Funds

The Alberta Energy Regulator says it is suspending licences for thousands of wells and pipelines after an oil and gas producer failed to bring its operations into regulatory compliance.

‘Milestone’ 4-0 Vote Permanently Halts Fracking in Delaware River Basin

In the face of vociferous opposition from natural gas interests, an interstate commission has voted to put a permanent stop to fracking in the Delaware River Basin.

Transition to Electric Cars Need Not Demand a Toxic Lithium Legacy

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Ice Shelves at Risk as Antarctic Summer Sets New Temperature Record

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COVID-19, Climate Hold Lessons About Colonialism, ‘Syndemic Events’

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U.S. Gulf Coast Refineries May Take Weeks to Recover from Blackouts

California Could Lead on Pollution-Free Construction

Firefighter Leaves Hospital Nearly Four Months after Critical Burns in California Wildfire

Canadian Dairy Farmers Face Controversy for Adding Palm Oil to Feed

UK Universities Set ‘Sustainable Routines’ on Air Travel, Food

Solar Cell Component Could Be Used to Detect Pesticides, Chemical Warfare Agents

$565-Billion House Bill Aims to Cut U.S. Emissions 50% by 2030, Decarbonize Grid by 2035

The United States would cut its greenhouse gas emissions 50% from 2005 levels by 2030 and count on a clean electricity standard to achieve a 100% clean energy grid by 2035 under legislation reintroduced this week by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Forget ‘Safe’ and Focus on Impact to Make Carbon Credits Work: WWF

Despite more than a decade of policy discussion, questions still remain over how to differentiate “good” carbon forest credits from those that just squeak by the grade. A new primer from World Wildlife Fund attempts to lay out the challenges and offer a path forward.

Criminalizing Ecocide Could Give Teeth to Easy-to-Evade Climate Targets

While most of the world’s countries are, for all intents and purposes, reneging on their promises to keep global warming below 1.5°C, individuals and organizations are fighting to hold such ecocidal inaction to account in criminal court.

River Commission in Biden’s Home State Bans Fracking

Climate Projections Show More Severe Drought in China

South Africa Coal Closures Put Tens of Thousands of Jobs at Risk

Montrealers Battle to Save Urban Forest from Clearcutting

Secwepemc Matriarch Makes Eight-Foot Quilt to Resist Trans Mountain Pipeline

LNG Canada Janitors Win 40% Wage Hike Over Three Years, Better Health and Safety

Kern County, California is Oil Country, and Wants to Stay That Way

Alabama Genetic Researchers Look to Switchgrass for Biofuel

U.S. Food Waste Produces More Carbon Pollution than Air Travel

Rising Temps Make European Forests More Vulnerable to Insect Infestations

Canadian Environmental Justice Bill Set for Commons Debate [Petition]

A private member’s bill seeking to address environmental racism in Canada, in part by empowering BIPOC communities to act in their own defence, is due to be debated in the House of Commons later this month—the first step in moving the legislation forward to committee.

Heritage Group Places Entire City of Providence, RI, on ‘Endangered Property’ List

The iconic 1928 “Superman” building is just one of many heritage treasures to be found in the 385-year-old Rhode Island city of Providence. Now, a local preservation society has moved to place the entire city on its annual “most endangered properties” list, citing sea level rise and storm surge risk.

War-Torn States Look to Local Renewables, Rooftop Solar for Greater Stability

Desperate to improve energy access for their citizens, some of the world’s most fragile states have delivered an open letter to wealthy nations, development banks, and the private sector, pleading for support to expand distributed renewable energy systems like inexpensive and relatively conflict-resistant rooftop solar.

Rapid Alpine Warming Threatens Soil Carbon, Food Production

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The Tyee’s Nikiforuk Scorches ‘Pharoah’ Horgan’s $16-Billion Hydropower Monument

Appeals Court Refuses to Hear Landmark Youth Climate Case

California Extends Deadline on High-Speed Rail Project

Amsterdam Neighbourhood Tries Floating Homes to Tackle Sea Level Rise, Urban Density

Pakistan Directs Green Bonds to New Hydropower Projects

Lebanon Electricity System Set to Run Out of Fuel This Month

B.C. Pushes Forward with Site C Hydro Megaproject Despite $16-Billion Price Tag

Premier John Horgan has given the green light for work on British Columbia’s Site C hydroelectric dam to proceed, citing termination costs of more than C$10 billion and expert opinion that the geotechnical problems that have haunted the project can be fixed. Members of the West Moberly First Nations say they’ll see the province in court.

Coalition Urges Federal Funding to Drive Down Farm Emissions, Bring Producers Onboard for Climate Action

A new coalition of agriculture and environmental groups is calling for a two-year, C$600-million federal investment to begin reducing the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, pave the way for further improvements over time, and dial down concerns about carbon pricing and its potential impact on farm producers.

Quebec River is First in Canada to Gain ‘Legal Personhood’

With its kilometres of rapids and deep blue waters winding through Quebec’s Côte-Nord region, the Magpie river has long been a culturally significant spot for the Innu of Ekuanitshit.

Now the river, a majestic, world-renowned whitewater rafting destination, has been granted legal personhood status in a bid to protect it from future threats, such as hydroelectric development. Its new status means the body of water could theoretically sue the government.

Maryland Capital and Its County Launch New Climate Suits Against Big Fossil

Annapolis, Maryland, has launched a lawsuit against 26 fossil companies—including heavyweights ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, and Shell—in a bid to hold the industry liable for its decision to pursue fossil fuel development despite full knowledge of the environmental consequences.

New ‘Proxy’ Evidence Shows Atlantic Ocean Current at Its Weakest in 1,000 Years

Evidence is growing that a critical part of the Atlantic Ocean’s circulation system is weaker than it’s been in 1,000 years, a climate-driven change that could someday have a major impact on both the European climate and the fishing economies of the U.S. East Coast.

U.S. Towns Look for Barriers to Combat Gradual Flooding

Nine Big Emitters Would Pay Their Share Under ‘Hypothetical Climate Liability Regime’

The world’s big oil and mining companies emit vast amounts of climate-changing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. By extension, the actions of these corporate giants stand accused of contributing to floods and droughts and other climate-related disasters around the globe, extremely costly in both human and financial terms.

LNG Tanker Completes First Winter Passage of Russia’s Melting Northern Sea Route

Since the New Year, an LNG tanker has twice navigated the Northern Sea Route—a feat that until recently would have been impossible in mid-winter. While some see the opening of the passage as a worrying sign for the climate, others are salivating at the thought of a new frontier for commerce.

Rising Rents, Hurricane Damage Drive Homelessness Crisis in Louisiana

Only six months after seeing their homes destroyed by back-to-back hurricanes, many renters in the industrial heartland of southwest Louisiana have found themselves literally on the street due to unconscionable eviction laws, a woefully insufficient federal aid response, a pre-existing housing crisis, and pandemic-related job losses.

Great Barrier Reef Geoengineering an Expensive Smokescreen, Scientists Say

Researchers and innovators are piling on to the effort to geoengineer a way to protect Australia’s Great Barrier Reef from a warming ocean. But as intriguing as some of the solutions are, critics say such projects do nothing but put a very expensive, potentially destructive band-aid on a problem that will only be solved by sharp emissions cuts.

Canada Energy Regulator Forms Indigenous Advisory Committee

Wildfires Deliver Economic Hit After Flames Go Out

U.S. Flood Damage Costs to Rise 61% by 2051

Survey Shows Australians Fear Climate More than Catching COVID-19

India’s Himalayan Flood Points to Looming Climate Emergency

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Accelerating climate ambition and building back better are two of the six components of a new U.S.-Canada partnership roadmap that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden released yesterday, during the first official summit between the two leaders and their senior cabinet officials.

Russian Veto Blocks UN Security Council Action on Climate

The sitting president of the United Nations Security Council was left “stabbing at a broken panic button” yesterday after Russia’s veto threat prevented the council from recognizing the climate crisis as a global security risk, Politico Europe reports.

Coastal GasLink Costs Rise as B.C. Flags Environmental Impacts Along Pipeline Route

The CEO of TC Energy Corp. is warning that the cost of its Coastal GasLink pipeline to bring natural gas from northeastern British Columbia to Canada’s first LNG export terminal is rising and completion will likely be delayed due to a construction halt to control spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

World Bank, IMF May Link Debt Relief for Poor Countries with Climate Investments

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are looking at how to take climate change into account as they open negotiations to reduce unsustainable debt loads for some of the world’s poorest countries, Reuters reports, citing an interview last week with World Bank President David Malpass.

Australian Megafires Could Have Lasting Consequences on Outback Vegetation

Australia’s desperate summer of ferocious bushfires in 2019-2020 burned more than 19 million hectares, devastating plant ecosystems and razing more than 90% of the range of 289 species across the continent. Such comprehensive destruction, coupled with the fact that many species were already weakened by drought, has left experts fearing “regeneration failure and landscape-scale decline” in the country.

City Forests Hold Promise for Significant CO2 Offsets, Study Concludes

Urban reforestation in cities in the Global South could be a cost-effective path to offsetting some part of global city emissions, according to a new study. And the researchers are calling their findings a conservative estimate, calculated with due concern for land use conflicts and other fundamental constraints.

Off-Gassing Upholstery, Highway Emissions Make Cars Toxic Inside and Out

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Environment Groups Head to Court to Defend Federal Impact Assessment Act

Scientists Say Marine Mammals Harmed by Altered Ocean ‘Soundscape’

Vanishing Louisiana Island Community is Bellwether for Sea Level Rise

Coastal GasLink Restarts Construction with Approved Pandemic Plan

Sask First Nation Mounts Blockade Against Intruding Uranium Company

Fuel Reduction Helped Limit Losses in Recent California Wildfire

Sea Level Rise Threatens U.S. Nuclear Waste Sites

Illegal Logging Adds to Malaria Threat in Venezuela

New Team at East Anglia Links Food Security, Climate Resilience

UN Report Urges End to ‘Suicidal’ War on Nature

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Texas Blackouts Highlight Disaster Risk for U.S., Canadian Utilities

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Tree Programs Should Favour Natural Regeneration Over Commercial Plantations

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Fort McKay First Nation, Alberta Sign Land Management Deal

Massive Fire Follows Fuel Tanker Blast at Afghanistan-Iran Border

Florida Governor Proposes $1 Billion for Climate Resilience

Delayed Rains Point to Future Drought Risk in Vulnerable Regions

Pandemic Shows Path for Countries to Tackle Climate, but ‘Fractures’ International Cooperation

Climate Response in Benin Leaves Out Rural Women

Cities Coping with Waves of Incoming Climate Migrants

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Missouri Solar Installer Reports ‘Overwhelming’ Interest as Customers Face Rolling Blackouts

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141 Groups Urge Fossil Extraction Moratorium in Greenland

Alberta Announces Plan to Expand Boreal Forest Preserve

Agencies Aren’t Disclosing COVID Hospitalizations among U.S. Wildfire Fighters

‘Migratory Bird Massacre’ Greenlighted by Trump Admin Can Still Be Stopped

Research Shows Tropical Cyclones Moving Closer to Coastlines

New Mangrove Mapping Tool Boosts Resilience for Coastal Areas

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Pickering-Area Citizens Launch Blockade, ‘Shoe Strike’ to Protect Sensitive Local Wetland

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Deliver Real Protections for Climate Migrants, Refugee Group Urges Biden Administration

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Citizen ‘Climate Brigades’ in Ecuador Build Resilience, Cohesion

The citizen brigades of Guayaquil, Ecuador, were established to help the city’s poor find safety during extreme weather events. But the results have gone far further—with positive reverberations both political and personal.

Too Much Sahara Solar Development Could Bring Regional, Global Climate Impacts

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Amtrak One? With a Rail Enthusiast in the White House, Transit Advocate Eyes a Renaissance

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Now, a former customer advocate for New Jersey Transit says the new occupant of Air Force One should imagine a transition to Amtrak One.

Trump Environmental Policies Caused 22,000 Deaths, Lancet Study Shows

Swedish Groups Warn Against Solar Geoengineering Test

Work-from-Home Has Power Corp. Dumping Penthouse Suite in Downtown Toronto Office Tower

Air Pollution Increases Risk of Irreversible Vision Loss

Melting Glaciers Push Alpine Plant Species to Extinction at Higher Altitudes

Shareholders Squirm, Climate Analysts Pounce as Shell Releases ‘Grotesque’, ‘Delusional’ Climate Plan

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Appalachia Counties Lose Jobs, Population Despite Massive Fracking Boom

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1930s Jobs Program Holds Mixed Lessons for Biden’s U.S. Climate Corps

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Indigenous Clean Energy Seeks Federal Endowment to Build ‘Decolonized Energy Future’

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Alberta’s Reinstated Coal Policy Leaves Gaping Opportunities for Mining

Its recent mea culpa notwithstanding, the Jason Kenney government in Alberta has by no means closed the barn door on the idea of metallurgical coal mining in the beloved, and ecologically sensitive, eastern slopes of the Rockies.

Kolbert’s Geoengineering Review Contrasts Bright Ideas with More Controversial Schemes

An enthusiastic—if imperfect—command of our technological powers has made humanity the dominant force on Earth, and we human beings are unlikely to stop monkeying around with nature. But some of our ideas may prove better than others, says author Elizabeth Kolbert.

Alberta, B.C. Receive New Funding Under Federal Oil Well Cleanup Program

The Alberta, British Columbia, and federal governments have unveiled a new round of funding to help clean up inactive oil and gas sites in the province, including C$400 million in Alberta and $120 million for B.C.

‘Surging’ East African Methane Emissions Drive Record Rainfall

Chevron’s Richmond Oil Refinery Spills 600 Gallons into San Francisco Bay

Judge Demands Social Cost of Carbon Calculation for Montana-Wyoming Coal Mine

Europe Faces Compound Warm Season Droughts

New Locust Swarm Threatens East Africa Food Supplies

SolarAid Delivers Radios for Vulnerable Students in Malawi

India Was Forewarned About Himalayan Flood Disaster Risks

Experts and residents in India have long been sending a message to the Modi government in India: Do not build hydroelectric dams in the Alaknanda-Bhagirathi basin. But those warnings were ignored, and now the collapse of the Nanda Devi glacier has left a toll of at least 26 dead and nearly 200 missing, as the fear of further collapse grips the living.

Climate Crisis Will Be More Deadly than COVID, Carney Warns

Climate change could cause as many deaths each year by mid-century as the COVID-19 pandemic has produced over the last 12 months, UN climate action and finance envoy Mark Carney said last week, in an interview in which he called on governments to double their investments in a green recovery.

From Aquifers to Tree Canopies, New Research Flags Shrinking Fresh Water Supplies

Courtesy of climate change, the many and diverse parts of the Earth that hold fresh water are drying up, putting 66% of the land surface on track for significant water scarcity, says a recent report in the journal Nature Climate Change.

China’s COVID Recovery Drives Higher Emissions

Smart Cameras on Wind Turbines Cut Eagle Deaths by 82%

Child cycling with a mask

Fossil Fuel Pollution Caused 8.7 Million Premature Deaths in 2018, New Study Finds

Fossil fuel pollution killed 8.7 million people prematurely in 2018—more than 18% of the total global death toll that year, and more than twice the impact calculated in recent research—according to a new study published this week in the journal Environmental Research.

Canada Can Thrive on Road to Net-Zero if Governments Make Good Decisions Now

Canada has multiple opportunities to thrive along the road to a net-zero economy by 2050 as long as governments make the right decisions now, concludes a study released this week by the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (CICC).

In Conversation: New Fibre Sources Are Key to Protecting Forest Ecosystems, Drawing Down Carbon, Rycroft Says

Nicole Rycroft is founder and executive director of Vancouver-based Canopy, and one of this year’s two recipients of the 2020 Climate Breakthrough award, a US$3-million, unrestricted award that supports “the kind of novel and potentially game-changing strategies we need in order to achieve massive greenhouse gas reductions”. In this feature interview, she talks about how to quickly and fundamentally shift supply chains and scale up next-generation alternative fibres as a key step to protect intact, carbon- and biodiversity-rich forest ecosystems.

Line 5 Pipeline Battle Produces Overheated Claims on Job vs. Environment

As officials in Michigan look to shut down the Line 5 pipeline, business interests in Ontario and Quebec are warning of dire economic effects. But others—like Green Party Leader Annamie Paul—say there are opportunities, too, and that presenting the pipeline as a choice between jobs and the environment is a false, and dangerous, dichotomy.

Peruvian Study Connects Flood Risk to Climate Change, Boosts Litigation Hopes

A landmark study of a Peruvian glacier has concluded that climate change caused by human activity is the key factor in the dangerous phenomenon of outburst flooding from glacial lakes. That finding could prove useful in a David vs. Goliath climate lawsuit currently being heard in a German civil court.

U.S. Institute Campaigns for 30 Million Solar Homes

Arizona Navajo Fight for Equitable Energy Economy

‘Staggering Increase’ Produces Record Heat Deaths in Arizona

Colorado River Hit ‘Incredibly Fast, Incredibly Hard’ by Climate Change

EXCLUSIVE: UNESCO Partnership Helps Global Gas Exporters ‘Boost Legitimacy’, Undercuts UN Climate Goals, Analysts Say

The United Nations agency responsible for science, education, culture, and protected areas is undercutting global action on the climate emergency, analysts and campaigners warn, by forming a partnership with a global forum dedicated to promoting and greenwashing natural gas exports.

Nine Dead, 140 Missing as Fractured Himalayan Glacier Triggers Flash Flood in Northern India

Officials are already pointing to climate change as the cause of a devastating disaster Sunday that killed at least nine people and left 140 construction workers missing in northern India, after a Himalayan glacier fractured and triggered a torrential flood that slammed into two hydroelectric plants.

‘Intense Public Protest’ Prompts Alberta to Restore Some Coal Industry Regulation

The Alberta government says it plans to restore some aspects of a policy it revoked last spring that protected a wide swath of the province’s foothills and mountains from coal mines.
The move has provoked intense public protest.

‘Tears of Joy’ as Court Orders Compensation for Shell Pipeline Spills in Nigeria

A European campaign organization responded with “tears of joy”, and a reporter predicted a wave of new litigation after an appeals court in The Hague ruled late last month that colossal fossil Royal Dutch Shell must pay compensation to four Nigerian farmers affected by large pipeline spills between 2004 and 2007.

Permian Basin Drilling Leases Put New Mexico’s Aquifers at Risk

The vast and pristine network of caves that thread through the limestone and gypsum landscape of southeastern New Mexico are otherworldly in their beauty, rich in scientific and cultural revelation—and increasingly threatened by ongoing Permian Basin fossil exploration.

Industrial Hog Farm Biogas Projects Ignore Community Impacts

Many Black and low-income communities in the U.S. have long played unwilling hosts to industrial hog farms and their sub-par waste-treatment processes. Now, efforts to turn hog-generated methane into renewable natural gas are doing little to improve the quality of life in these communities—and may even be making it worse.

Coal Operations in Russia Produce ‘Extraordinary Pollution’, High Death Toll

Conservationists Urge Alberta to Take Better Care of Wetlands

Rising Deforestation Pulls Amazon Biome toward ‘Death Spiral’

Melting Permafrost Forces Communities to Find Safer Ground

Everyday Brands Like Heinz, Starbucks Put Rainforests at Risk

White House Abandons Trump-Era Attacks on Vehicle Efficiency, Methane Standards

The Biden administration is abandoning a controversial Trump-era attempt to challenge California’s legislated authority to set its own tailpipe and methane emission standards under the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Perth, Australia Bushfire Forces Evacuations Despite Pandemic Lockdown

A bushfire outside Perth, Australia has destroyed 71 homes, injured six firefighters, and forced some residents to evacuate—even though the city had just entered a snap, five-day pandemic lockdown.

Sea Level Rise Could Put 100 Airports Below Sea Level, 572 at Risk by 2100

Passengers, prepare for splashdown. Take-off may have to wait for low tide. By 2100, thanks to rising sea levels, around 100 of the world’s airports could be below mean sea level and at least 364 will be vulnerable to flooding, Climate News Network reports.

Crédit Suisse, BNP Bow to Campaigners, Drop Amazon Oil Financing

Black Property Owners at Risk as U.S. Pipeliners Assert Eminent Domain

Work from Home Pushes Bay Street Firms to Cut Office Footprint

Colorado Plans 90% Air Pollution Cut by 2050

Los Angeles Builds Partnerships, Engages Students with UN Sustainable Development Goals

Aging Dams Could Put Large Populations at Risk by 2050

Biggest Snowfall in 50 Years Adds to Misery in Poor Madrid Neighbourhood

Australia’s Subalpine Regions Suffer after 2019-20 Bushfires

New Analysis Shows Unabated Climate Change would Turn Cities into Ovens

Canada and U.S. Drastically Underestimate Methane Emissions as Atmospheric Levels Rise

Federal environmental agencies are underestimating methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells by 20% in the United States and 150% in Canada, according to a McGill University study published late last month in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, one of several in recent weeks that have pointed to a mounting crisis in releases of the climate-busting gas.

Executive Orders Good, Action Better, U.S. Environmental Justice Campaigners Say

Environmental justice campaigners in the United States have been feeling hopeful as President Joe Biden signs a string of executive orders to begin setting his climate program in motion. But more trust-building is needed, say observers—particularly after a long history of politicians talking big but delivering little.

Musk Faces Headwinds in Bid to Power SpaceX Rockets with Fossil Gas

Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk is facing serious criticism for plans to power his other major business venture, SpaceX, with fossil gas.

B.C. Logging Practices Drive Up Climate Risk, Sierra Club Warns

After failing to assess elevated risks of drought, wildfire, and flooding resulting from its standard logging practices, British Columbia urgently needs to address impacts of forest clearcutting that were left out of its 2019 Strategic Climate Risk Assessment, according to a report released Monday by Sierra Club BC.

Climate ‘Pariah’ Bolsonaro Faces International Court Complaint for Crimes Against Humanity

At home and abroad, the environmental policies being adopted in President Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil are leaving the country increasingly isolated, especially now his climate-denying idol Donald Trump has been replaced by the climate-friendly U.S. President Joe Biden.

Regulatory Rubber Stamp Sets Nova Scotia Behind on Climate, Coal

Sámi Herders Go to Court Against Norwegian Wind Farm

New Approaches Can Help Cities Confront Climate, Inequality Crises

Lake Study Shows Hotter, Longer Heat Waves by Century’s End

Danish Vertical Farm Gets Power from Wind, Produces 1,000 Tons of Food Per Year

Jason Kenney vs. the Plimsoll Line

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney proved to be “all hat but no horse” when it came to roping and tying down the ill-fated Keystone XL pipeline. Now, after risking billions in taxpayer funds on that folly, it appears he may soon be riding out of town on a one-trick pony. A metaphorical analysis by veteran journalist Paul McKay.

Collapsed Section of Pacific Coast Highway Points to Climate Perils Facing Coastal California

A section of the Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur, California has collapsed into the ocean due to heavy rains and erosion.

Global Climate Adaptation Funding Overreported, Underspent

Even if global climate adaptation financing were as high as reported—and it isn’t—it would still fall woefully short of what’s needed. And the projects that are being funded may be leaving their intended beneficiaries worse off due to oblivious planning that ignores local drivers of vulnerability.

Major Canadian Solar Firm Denies Reports of Forced Labour

A Canadian solar company is claiming that no Uyghurs are employed at its 30-MW solar farm in China’s Xinjiang region, nor are any members of the persecuted Muslim community being forced into labour anywhere along its solar supply chain. But human rights observers say that last assertion doesn’t stand up to the evidence.

Trudeau Tree-Planting Plan to Run $2.78B Over Budget, PBO Warns

The parliamentary budget office says a pledge by the Trudeau Liberals to plant two billion trees could cost almost double what the government says.

Coldest Town in Finland Unveils Satirical Bid for 2032 Summer Olympics

The self-described coldest town in Finland is making a pitch to host the 2032 Summer Olympics, with a mock promotional campaign that highlights the impacts of climate change in a place with an annual average temperature of -0.22°C/31.6°F.

Climate Crisis Puts World at Highest Temperature in 12,000 Years

First Nations Demand Horgan Release Site C Report

NREL Looks to Solar for Industrial Process Heat

Norwegian-Dutch Study Suggests Better Site Selection for Greener Hydropower

Millions of Americans Expected to Relocate in Bid to Dodge Climate Impacts

Study Finds Only Small Carbon Reduction in Eliminating U.S. Dairy Herds

Climate Has African Cotton Farmers Relying More on Dangerous Pesticides

EU Sees Renewable Power Easing Environmental Burdens

Sweeping Biden Executive Orders Halt Fossil Leases, Boost Renewables, Stress Environmental Justice and Scientific Integrity

With a set of three sweeping executive orders Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden launched an abrupt shift from four years of climate denial and inaction. The orders included measures to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, increase its reliance on renewable energy, accelerate government renewables procurement and research, restore scientific integrity, and begin addressing the searing inequities and environmental justice issues that had been allowed to fester under his predecessor’s watch.

Alarmingly Warm Water Temperatures Put Gulf of St. Lawrence in ‘Uncharted Territory’

Deep waters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are hitting record highs that fall far beyond normal variations, part of a decade-long trend emerging from research released earlier this week by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

‘Staggering’ Ice Loss Accelerates as Greenland Melt Rate Approaches 12,000-Year High

Planet Earth is losing its frozen mantle faster than ever as the world’s huge ice loss intensifies. Between 1994 and 2017, the polar regions and the mountain glaciers said farewell to a total of 28 million million tonnes of ice. This is a quantity large enough to conceal the entire United Kingdom under an ice sheet 100 metres thick.

Critics Weigh Merits of Soil Sequestration-Based Carbon Storage

Soil scientists, carbon credit start-ups, and now U.S. President Joe Biden want to enlist American farmers to fight the climate crisis through soil sequestration. Some, however, are questioning whether the benefits are as advertised, or if the initiative is a dangerous distraction from more proven, heavyweight carbon solutions like peatland restoration and forest protection.

Discouraging EV Battery Recycling Could Lead to Environmental Disaster

In September, Tesla announced that it would be phasing out the use of cobalt in its batteries, in an effort to produce a US$25,000 electric vehicle within three years. If successful, this bold move will be an industry game changer, making electric vehicles competitive with conventional counterparts.

Government Review Connects Canadian Solar Firm to Alleged Forced Labour in Xinjiang

North Sea Fossil Work Force Faces Looming Job Cuts

PEI Farms, Fishing Operations Adapt to Climate’s ‘New Normal’

France to Clear 1,000 Hectares of Forest for Massive New Solar Plant

Barcelona Touts Green Zones for Post-COVID Sustainable Cities

‘We Can Turn Things Around’, but Scientists Count the Species Lost in 2020

Rising Temps Could Make Superweeds Even Tougher

Satellites Show One-Third of U.S. Rivers Shifting from Blue to Yellow in 36 Years

UK’s Drax Promises Green Skills for a Million People by 2025

UN Commission Sets Standards for ‘People-First’ Infrastructure

Illustrated Guide Promotes UN Habitat’s New Urban Agenda

Biden to Pause Oil and Gas Leasing, Emphasize Environmental Justice in ‘Climate Day’ Executive Orders Expected Today

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to pause new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters and unveil an ambitious plan to put environmental justice at the centre of his climate program in a series of executive orders to be signed later today.

Alberta Coal Expansion Plan Raises Flags Over Past Toxic Contamination, Missed Monitoring

EDMONTON — Critics are asking why Alberta Environment has been sitting on years’ worth of data about pollution from coal mines while the government considers a dramatic expansion of the industry.

Rising Emissions Will Shift Tropical Rain Belt, Increase Food Scarcity

The year 2100 could see billions facing food insecurity if continued emissions—and their attendant warming—causes the planet’s tropical rain belt to shift its position. And immediate climate action is needed to prevent already hard-hit regions in Africa and Central America from experiencing further catastrophic suffering.

Land Titles Empower Indigenous Peoples while Promoting Forest Conservation

Forest conservation as a carbon reduction strategy has led to a trammelling of human rights for forest dwellers around the world, but it need not be this way: managed with human rights at the forefront, legally protected community lands are a proven boon to both climate and people.

Plastic-Free Food Delivery Service Launches in San Francisco

As home grocery delivery ramps up plastic use in cities across North America, a Bay Area start-up is hoping to become the 21st century’s answer to the milk delivery company—but with a much expanded product list.

Iqaluit Temperatures Nearly ‘Two Dozen Degrees’ Warmer than Normal

Humber-Area Residents React to Local Pipeline Project

IEEFA Warns Investors Off Two New Virginia Gas Plants

Strong Winds Close Yosemite National Park

Air Pollution Causes Nearly 30% of Miscarriages in South Asia

Climate Change Will Add ‘Profoundly’ to Child Malnourishment

EU Funds Farmers to Reduce Methane Belches from Livestock

Ocean Restoration Could Deliver 100,000 UK Jobs, £50-Billion Economic Boost

White House Says More Climate Action Coming in ‘Omnibus’ Order Next Week

U.S. President Joe Biden is planning another week of rapid action on the climate emergency, Reuters reports, citing a White House memo that promises a “series of regulatory actions to combat climate change domestically and elevates climate change as a national security priority”.

Youth Activists Demand Voice in Climate Policy

Youth climate organizations like Fridays for Future have proven themselves to be non-partisan, passionately intersectional, and naturally animated by a dauntless “get-it-done” spirit. With such extraordinary power and capability in their hands, younger people must have a seat at the table on climate policy, two youth activists say.

Slovenia’s Bee Conservation Success Has Lessons for North America

Thanks to the efforts of Slovenian beekeepers, May 20 has officially become World Bee Day. Now, it’s up to everyone else to advocate for the protection of bees everywhere as pesticides, starvation, and especially climate change lay waste to hives around the world.

Bug-to-Bowl Companies Create Feed and Fuel from Fly Larvae

Hardy, easy to breed, and above all voracious, insect larvae are being recruited to the cause of bio-waste treatment, an innovation critical both to building a circular economy and lowering emissions.

Severe Weather Costs Canadian Insurers $2.4 Billion in 2020

Faster Southern Ocean Warming Imperils Antarctic Ice

Heavy Winds Create Rare Wildfire Risk for Downtown Los Angeles

‘Our Normal Has Changed’ as Climate Shifts Outdoor Work on PEI

New Modelling Dashes Hopes for Wetter Winters in California, U.S. Southwest

U.S. Congress Launches Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus

Cameras On During Online Meetings Can Add to Carbon Footprint

Flurry of Biden Executive Orders Returns U.S. to Paris Agreement, Begins Reversing Trump Deregulatory Agenda

News reports Wednesday heralded the dawn of a new era in U.S. climate, energy, and environmental justice policy, as President Joe Biden marked his first day in office by signing a wave of executive orders to begin rolling back four years of deregulation under Donald Trump.

B.C. Regulator Imposes Independent Auditor After Coastal GasLink Imperils Prime Fish Habitats

Northeastern British Columbia pipeliner Coastal GasLink has been ordered to abide by provincial laws and start preventing polluted sediments from flowing from its work sites into prime fish habitats. And it won’t be trusted to take these protective measures on its own.

‘Essential’ Insect Populations Declining by 1-2% Per Year

Too often denigrated as “creepy crawlies,” insects are essential to life on Earth, supporting everything from pollination to the carbon cycle. Poisoned, starved, robbed of habitat, and hammered by climate change, 1 to 2% of insect species are now being lost each year.

Residents’ Court Claim Links Landslide to Site C Construction

VANCOUVER — Residents of a tiny community in northeastern British Columbia are suing the local and provincial governments over two slow-moving landslides they claim caused their property values to plummet.

Climate Change Drives Up Cost of U.S. Flooding

Northern Hemisphere Faces Warmer Winters, More Ice-Free Lakes

U-Sherbrooke Students’ Off-Grid Greenhouse Feeds a Family of Four for a Year

Wildfires Produce Up to Half of Western U.S. Soot Pollution

Extreme Weather Gaining Severity Across Nova Scotia

Sudan Wheat Supply at Risk as Temperatures Rise

Poor Countries, Small Island States Track Climate Impacts in UN Submissions

Indigenous Agroforesters Revive Palm Forests in Brazil

Biden Brings a Policy ‘Sea Change’, Podesta Tells GreenPAC Webinar

An aggressive program of executive actions and green investments, a White House staffed with “climate champions”, and a concerted effort to rebuild the U.S. government’s scientific capacity and morale will all begin to take shape today with the inauguration of President Joe Biden, former White House counsellor John Podesta said Tuesday afternoon, during a webinar hosted by Toronto-based GreenPAC.

Alberta Cancels 11 Coal Leases, Allows Development on 420,000 Hectares after Petitions Gather 100,000 Signatures [Sign-Ons]

EDMONTON — Alberta has decided to cancel recently issued coal leases in the Rocky Mountains, as public opposition grows to the United Conservative government’s plan to expand coal mining in the area.

Be Wary of Plans for Direct CO2 Removal, Greenpeace Warns Investors

While direct carbon removal (DCR) technologies like afforestation and direct air carbon capture are showing up in climate plans across the corporate world, it will be sharp emissions reductions, not DCR, that actually will keep a 1.5˚C climate target in view, Greenpeace UK warns in a new report.

Smoke Exposure Could Mean Higher Microbial Infection Risk for Wildland Firefighters

Wildfire smoke contains microbes, a fact that’s often ignored, but one that may have important health repercussions, Wildfire Today reports.

Muskrat Falls Hydro Megaproject Gets $844M in Federal Debt Deferrals

United Airlines Pins Hopes on Carbon Capture to Hit 100% Goal by 2050

Cyclones Force India to Shut Down Wind Turbines, Curtail Power Production

Rare Earth Mine in Greenland Raises Flags with Canadian Geologist

Climate Drives Fatal Skin Disease in Dolphins

Warming Leads to Shellfish Collapse Off Israeli Coast

UNEP Calls for Better Funding to Speed Global Climate Adaptation

As the climate crisis accelerates and the Earth nears a fast-approaching “temperature tipping point,” the world’s nations need to speed up their adaptation planning and funding, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warns in its latest Adaptation Gap Report.

New Exposé Reveals $171 Million in No-Bid Contracts on Site C Hydro Megaproject

Disgraced engineering giant SNC Lavalin and a former BC Hydro chief engineer were among the big winners when the provincial utility awarded C$171 million in sole-source, “no-bid” contracts for its controversial Site C hydropower megaproject, according to an exposé published by The Narwhal last week.

75 Indigenous Women Leaders Urge Biden to Halt Major Pipelines

Indigenous women leaders across the United States have called upon President-elect Joe Biden to put an immediate and permanent halt to three of the country’s pipeline projects, saying Indigenous rights and the threat of “climate chaos” demand an end to the reign of fossil fuels.

New Ministerial Mandate Letters Lay Out Federal Agenda on Climate, Green Recovery

While the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is still necessarily taking up most of the oxygen on Parliament Hill, climate action and a green recovery figure fairly prominently in a new batch of ministerial mandate letters released last Thursday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

IEA Warns of Post-Pandemic Emissions Rebound

Suncor Worker Dies After Dozer Falls Through Ice on Inactive Tailings Pond

Exxon Subsidiary Imperial Oil Promises Carbon Footprint Disclosure

Mushy Outdoor Rinks Become Ground for Climate Conversations

California Farmers Look at Land Use to Protect Migratory Birds

Trump Officials Aim to Permit Polar Bear Disruptions in Arctic Refuge

Rising Seas Make Miami Beach Affordable Housing Crisis Worse

New Offshore Drilling Permits Could Put Canada’s Climate Targets Out of Reach, Endangered Right Whales at Risk

The federal government is putting its own climate targets out of reach, triggering higher carbon dioxide and methane emissions, putting endangered North Atlantic right whales at further risk, and undercutting the new impact assessment process it adopted less than two years ago, according to environmental groups reacting to the approval of three new fossil exploration projects off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador earlier this week.

Alberta Sends Warning Letters, Imposes No Fines in ‘Really Serious Case’ of Falsified Documents

A “huge” case of falsified records, in which 59 reclamation certificates for abandoned gas wells were rescinded by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), has resulted in warning letters and media coverage but no financial penalties for the two companies involved, after a complex investigation ran into the two-year limit imposed by provincial legislation.

Carbon emissions from a coal plant in Germany

Higher Emissions from Fossil Plants Could Drive Up Global Power Demand by 27 Gigawatts

In a global first, a study just published in the journal Environmental Research Letters concludes that reliance on fossil-fuelled power plants in a warming world could drive up global electricity demand by as much as 27,000 megawatts.

Canada’s Net-Zero Framework May Be Too Little, Too Late for the North

Empty rhetoric, ignorance, vested interests, and systemic racism—all persisting even as the climate crisis melts away the life-sustaining Arctic ice—may well mean that any achievement in Canada’s 2050 net-zero target will come too late for those who call the North home.

Bangladesh Moves 3,400 Rohingya to Flood-Prone Island Amid Warnings of Forced Relocation

Bangladesh closed out 2020 by transporting at least 1,800 Rohingya refugees to the remote and flood-prone Bhasan Char island in the Bay of Bengal, bringing the total number of relocatees to 3,400.
A succession of news reports warned that members of the persecuted minority are being moved against their will to a spot that is deeply vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Food Industry Drives Habitat Loss as Consumers Shift Eating Habits

New research is shining a light on the role the global food industry could play in driving habitat and species loss over the next 30 years, even as a European poll shows two-thirds of respondents shifting their eating habits to help address the climate crisis.

South Asia Could See 63 Million Climate Migrants by 2050

Underground Oil Leak Hits Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula

Animal Products Priced Far Too Low to Reflect Climate Impacts

Sunflower Sea Stars at Brink of Extinction After 5.7 Billion Die in Last Decade

Woodland Birds in UK Show Steep Population Loss

LNG Prices Hit Six-Year High

European Investment Bank Backs Geothermal for Dutch Greenhouses

Surge of New Oil Drilling Permits Could Help U.S. Fossils Withstand Biden Climate Plan

In the closing months of the Trump administration, fossil companies stockpiled enough drilling permits for western public lands to keep pumping oil for years and undercut President-elect Joe Biden’s plans to curb new drilling because of climate change, according to public records and industry analysts.

B.C. Health Officer Permits Workers to Return to Controversial Dam Project

With a conditional green light from British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Site C dam construction crews are embarking on a staged return to work, even as cabinet officials prepare to review a major study that could shut the project down for good.

Peaceful Pipeline Protesters Arrested Along Line 3, Just Days After Capitol Hill Violence

Just days after white supremacist terrorists converged on Washington, DC and sacked the U.S. Capitol, 300 water protectors and Anishinaabe jingle dress dancers gathered peacefully at an Enbridge work site in Minnesota to protest construction of the company’s Line 3 pipeline.

China’s Solar Industry Faces Charges of Forced Labour

While the solar industry in China’s Xinjiang region touts itself as a model of clean, responsible economic growth, a New York Times exposé cites five companies that may be using members of the country’s persecuted Uighur ethnic minority as forced labour.

Insurance Industry Contends with Rising Losses as Climate Chaos Sweeps the Globe

The climate crisis is exacting a rising price from the global insurance industry, a relief and development agency says. As the world digests the news that 2020 was the joint hottest year on record, two reports attempt to assess how many billions of dollars are being lost as a result of an ever-warming planet.

Scotiabank Refuses to Fund Arctic Refuge Drilling

Trudeau Pledges $55 Million to Address Land Degradation

UNESCO Raises Flags Over Vancouver Fossil’s Botswana Project

U.S. Records Poor Air Quality at Oregon, California Fire Camps

North Dakota Scrambles to Protect Drinking Water from Fracking Waste

Greenland’s Ice Caverns Deliver Alarming Message on Ice Loss

Ocean Warming Threatens Southern Right Whales

Alaska Aims to Penalize Banks that Won’t Invest in Fossils

UK Carbon Plan Meets Less than 25% of 2030 Target

Desert-to-Power Plan to Deliver Solar for Sahel

UK Company Announces Biodegradeable, Compostable Plastic Alternative

Climate Deniers Cheer Trump’s Murderous Mob as Campaigners Decry Preferential Treatment

After white supremacists stormed and sacked the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday, some of the country’s most prolific climate deniers took to social media to amplify the misinformation and conspiracy theories Donald Trump had used to animate the mob. Indigenous and Black community campaigners, meanwhile, contrasted the preferential treatment many of the rioters received with the vastly more aggressive response to recent protests against fossil pipelines and racial injustice.

Parade of Alberta Coal Developments Threatens Recreation Areas, Biodiversity

EDMONTON — At least five popular recreation areas in southern Alberta are surrounded by coal exploration plans and one of them has been partly given over to an exploration lease, raising questions about their future with lovers of the outdoors.

2020 Ties 2016 for Hottest Year on Record

Last year tied 2016 for hottest on record, further accelerating the melting of the Arctic region and fuelling a spate of deadly droughts, heat waves, and wildfires around the world. And this surge in warmth occurred despite the cooling presence of La Niña.

Forest Carbon Offsets on the Agenda as France’s One Planet Summit Confronts Biodiversity Loss

Global leaders are in the midst of a high-stakes virtual summit today, aimed at rebooting international diplomacy on climate change and species extinction ahead of a United Nations biodiversity conference scheduled for October.

Epic Failure for Trump as Fossils Show Little Interest in Alaska Refuge Oil Leases

Donald Trump sustained an epic defeat last week when a widely-criticized, eleventh-hour bid to sell oil and gas exploration leases in the ecologically fragile Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) produced only a fraction of the revenue or industry interest his administration was hoping for.

B.C. Risks ‘Massive Losses’ without Better Planning for Storm Surges, Sea Level Rise

VANCOUVER — Parts of British Columbia could see massive losses if the province doesn’t start planning for flooding as ocean waters rise and storms surge due to climate change, says a researcher at the University of B.C. in Vancouver.

Coastal Communities Face Drought as Global Warming Shrinks Caspian Sea

The Caspian Sea—the world’s largest lake—is about to go down in the world. And with it could go the fortunes of some of the people of at least five nations. New research suggests that the Caspian, already receding at the rate of several centimetres a year, is to go into even faster decline: later this century, it could be nine or even 18 metres lower than it is now.

Climate-Related Hunger, Drought, Conflict to Cost Kenya $62 Billion

Renewables Output Exceeds Fossil for First Time in Germany

Systemic Racism Limits Minority Businesses’ Access to Energy Efficiency Dollars

U.S. Farmers Face ‘Abandonment Issues’ with Obsolete Oil Wells

Storm Drives UK Wind Above 50% of Power Supply on Boxing Day

Smoke from Australia Wildfires Blocked Sunlight, Cooled the Globe

More Atmospheric CO2 Does More Harm than Good for Crops, Plants

Storms Wash Away Iconic Tourist Spots in Australia’s Byron Bay

Plastic Pollution Threatens to Clog Serbian Hydropower Dam

UK to Ban New Gas Boilers in Homes by 2025

Solar to Power Irrigation, Water Treatment in Jamaica

‘Baked-In’ Warming Will Push Temperature Rise Past 2°C, Adding Urgency to Net-Zero Push

Alongside the extreme weather events of 2020, new research that shows today’s atmospheric CO2 levels pushing average global warming beyond 2.0°C makes it that much more important to push a rapid decarbonization agenda, scientists say.

Democrats’ Senate Majority Means Green Policy Shift, Wider Rollback of Trump Deregulation

With Democrats poised to form a narrow majority in the U.S. Senate, following landmark run-off election wins this week by Senators-elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia, the first two months of the Biden-Harris administration may be marked by a concerted push to roll back some of the worst deregulatory excesses of the Donald Trump years.

U.S. Government Scientists Trace Four Years of Resistance to Trump Agenda

Over the past four years of damaging fiats and undermining actions delivered by the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency has been waging a militant, if quiet, resistance.

Contaminants Hit North Saskatchewan River After Pipeline Spills 400,000 Litres of ‘Salty Produced Water’

CALGARY — Contaminated water that leaked from an oilfield pipeline on Christmas Day has entered the North Saskatchewan River but has had no detectable impact on it, a spokesperson for Calgary-based fossil ARC Resources Ltd. said late last month.

Wind, Solar Industries Must Address Environmental Costs as Renewables Expand

Determined that there can be no “green halo” for renewables, solar and wind stakeholders in the United States are tackling the reality that their “green” and “clean” technologies carry their own environmental costs—and that those costs that must be addressed head-on, and not left for someone else to pay.

Pandemic Brings Demand Dip for Higher-End Tesla Models

Macron Pitches Constitutional Amendment on Climate, Environment

Pandemic Drags Down Green Energy Projects in Developing Countries

New Megadams in China, India Risk Catastrophic Flooding, New Study Shows

Binational Study Cites Climate as Risk to Great Lakes

December Sees Three Dead, One Injured on Fossil Projects in Alberta, B.C., Minnesota

December was a hazardous month to work in the fossil industry, with workers killed or injured on projects in Alberta, British Columbia, and Minnesota.

Opinion: Federal Nuclear Plan Confuses Science Fiction with Real Energy Technologies

Canada’s action plan for small modular nuclear reactors is nothing more than science fiction, writes analyst Burgess Langshaw-Power: idle dreams of an indefinite group of technologies which may be ready in a decade. In the meantime, renewable energy continues to leap ahead, mostly without any federal support.

Palm Oil Industry Tainted by Child Labour, Human Rights Abuses

While other kids attend school, tens of thousands of children are toiling away in Indonesian and Malaysian palm oil plantations, vulnerable to trafficking and routinely exposed to pesticides and other workplace dangers. And their only hope for a better life lies in public pressure against Big Palm Oil.

Inner South London Coroner Cites Air Pollution in Death of Nine-Year-Old with Severe Asthma

India Proposes Looser Deadline for Coal Emission Controls

COVID Outbreaks Hit Chevron, Syncrude Sites in Alberta

Geothermal Greenhouses Help East Coast First Nations Address Food Insecurity

Minnesota Indigenous Groups, Enviros File New Suit Against Line 3

Landslide Leaves Two Missing, Homes Destroyed in Alaska Fishing Village

UK Fossil Cuadrilla Gives Up Part of Lancashire Fracking Licence

14 Countries Commit to Sustainably Manage 40% of World’s Coastlines

Trump Admin Deregulates Drilling in North Dakota Protected Areas

World’s Biggest Green Group Deals in ‘Meaningless Carbon Offsets’

Amazon Uses Pinkerton Cops to Spy on Warehouse Workers, Enviros

Solar Powers 200 Desalination Units in Kenya

850,000 Trapped in Darkness as Cyclone Yasa Hits Fiji at 250 Kilometres Per Hour

More than 850,000 Fijians were trapped in inky darkness on Thursday, hunkered down against the ravages of Tropical Cyclone Yasa, which slammed ashore around 8 PM local time bearing average windspeeds of 250 kilometres per hour, towering storm surges, and the siren call of a climate emergency.

Ottawa Releases Flurry of New Announcements on Tree Planting, Hydrogen, Clean Fuels, SMRs

The Trudeau government is continuing its flurry of year-end policy moves on climate change and energy, with announcements earlier this week on hydrogen strategy and tree planting and more news expected today on a narrowed Clean Fuel Standard and small modular nuclear reactors.

‘Damn It Feels Good to Win’: Historic Diversity, Serious Climate Expertise as Biden Cabinet Takes Shape

As U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet and senior White House appointments take shape, a picture is emerging of an administration that will be keenly focused on climate action and environmental justice—not only in the key portfolios traditionally responsible for environment and natural resources, but in important related areas from treasury to health, from transportation to trade.

Ontario Guts Conservation Authorities, Risking ‘Irreversible Damage’ in Flood Zones

Overreaching, unnecessary, and downright dangerous is how Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities are describing a new provincial law that limits their power to protect an already vulnerable public from increasing flood risks—a threat the Ford government continues shrug off.

Human-Made Materials Now Weigh More than All Living Beings on Earth

Small Modular Reactors ‘Re-Engage’ Canada with Nuclear Weapons

California Startups Aim to Stem Wildfires, Boost Grid Resilience

Cambridge, Mass. Adopts First U.S. Gas Pump Warnings on Climate

Sea Level Rise Off Miami Puts Affordable Housing at Risk

Coal Ash Imperils Indiana Water Quality

Sri Lanka’s 103.5-MW Wind Farm Comes Complete with Bird Radar

Human Interference Leaves Only 40% of Remaining Forests with ‘High Ecosystem Integrity’

‘Multistakeholder Narratives’ Explore Drought Impacts in UK

Child cycling with a mask

Wildfires, Vehicle Emissions Emerge as Leading Source of Cancer-Causing Chemicals

Wildfires and tailpipe emissions have taken over from industry as a major source of a group of cancer-causing chemical toxins in the air, Environment Canada says.

Property Disclosure Laws Fall Behind as U.S. Flood Risk Rises

As flood risk grows in tandem with the climate crisis, absent or weak disclosure laws are putting the safety and financial well-being of millions of Americans at risk.

Afghanistan Hospitals Turn to Solar as Lifeline

Australia, Japan Plot Undersea Storage for Carbon Emissions Waste

Greenbelt Foundation Invests $500K in Climate Preparedness

Mexico Races Against Time to Protect Corals from Hurricane Damage

Most of UK Could See No More Snow by 2060

Study Puts Cost of 2018 California Wilfires at $145 Billion

Off-Grid Power Providers Await Role in Post-Pandemic Recovery

Montreal Vows 55% Emissions Cut by 2030

In its just-released 10-year climate plan, the city of Montreal is vowing to cut emissions by 55% from 1990 levels by 2030. Environmental groups like Équiterre are praising the plan as a “very pragmatic and serious” effort grounded in the realities of climate science.

Lax COVID-19 Safety at B.C. Man Camps Puts Indigenous Communities at Risk

WorkSafe BC documents have revealed shocking carelessness with worker protections in the province’s northern “man camps.” And as COVID-19 cases continue to mount in the region, more than 180 front-line health workers have signed an open letter urging the immediate closure of camps on Indigenous territory.

Citizens Sue South African Government for Extreme Air Pollution

Literally choking on some of the world’s worst air pollution, residents of the town of Middelburg and other communities in the coal-intensive Highveld plateau of South Africa are suing the federal government for violating their constitutional right to a healthy environment.

Provinces May Infringe Charter Rights with Crackdown on Indigenous Land Defenders

TORONTO — Months after a group of Haudenosaunee people set up camp on a construction site near Caledonia, Ontario, a provincial court granted Haldimand County an order permanently forbidding people from “interfering” with any public road.

Climate Disasters Speed Up in Five Years Since Paris Conference

Methane Burns Ravage Birds at U.S. Landfills

Trudeau Government’s ‘Back Door’ Deal with U.S. Undercuts Global Plastics Treaty

California Faces Bumpy Road Using Microgrids to Confront Wildfires, Outages

Oregon, California, Two Indigenous Tribes Restart Biggest Dam Removal Project in U.S.

Japanese Court Shuts Two Nuclear Plants Over Earthquake Concerns

Locals Evacuate as Winds Fan South California Canyon Fires

2020 Storms Were ‘Just a Preview’ for Central America

WRI Urges Faster Climate Action to Hit 1.5°C Target

Scientists Plead for Action as Soaring Temperatures Show Arctic in Crisis

As temperatures soared across Canada’s Northwest Territories last week, scientists from around the world were checking in and confirming an Arctic ecosystem in deepening crisis. They’re pleading for action to protect the ice that remains and, with it, the global ecosystem as we know it.

In Conversation: Climate Response, COVID Recovery Must Factor in Adaptation, Bardswick and Ness Say

Kathy Bardswick is President and Ryan Ness is Adaptation Research Director of the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices. In this feature interview, they talk about their new report on climate impacts and adaptation, the close connections between adaptation and mitigation, and how to get rolling on climate action while the detailed data is still taking shape.

New Report Shows Path to 1.5°C with Less Consumption, Basic Income, and a ‘Good Life for All’

A 25% reduction in average living space in developed countries, less food waste and meat consumption, less road-based transport, better infrastructure, and “relocalization” of economies are key elements of a new 1.5°C scenario from two European think tanks that charts a course to stabilize the climate by mid-century, while balancing the economies of the Global North and South.

Trans Mountain Poised for Tree Clearing Despite Promise to Protect Burnaby Salmon Habitat

The federally-owned company building the Trans Mountain pipeline is about to begin clearing trees near sensitive salmon habitat along the Brunette River in Burnaby, British Columbia—even though a company executive swore in an affidavit that the fish would be protected, and two government reports in the last two weeks have concluded there’s no likely justification for completing the project.

As Canada Spends Billions on Pipelines, First Nations Communities Still Wait for Water

Despite being one of the wealthiest nations on Earth and having an abundance of fresh water, Canada can’t seem to find a way to secure clean water for First Nations communities—though it will move heaven and earth to pipe its oil and gas to market.

Prairies Face ‘Consecutive Years of Severe Drought’ from Drier, Warmer Climate

Federal scientists are predicting a hot, dry, and fiery future for the Prairies. “In a warming climate, you can expect extreme weather events to occur with increased severity,” said Dave Sauchyn, a professor at the University of Regina and a lead author of an extensive report released Monday by Natural Resources Canada.

EU Considers 50% Toll Reduction for Zero-Emission Trucks

European Union transport ministers have agreed to a new tolling system that will give truckers a price break of at least 50% if they use emissions-free vehicles.

Diesel Ship Sulphur ‘Scrubbers’ Create Marine Waste Without Tackling Particulates, Black Carbon

While scrubbers on ocean-going ships do help reduce sulphur emissions, they also place marine waters at extreme risk from acidic sulphur waste and other toxic contaminants that get dumped overboard, and they fail to tackle particulate matter or black carbon, a recent report concludes.

Stop Blaming and Shaming: Harm Reduction Points the Way to Better COVID Communication (and Smarter Front-Line Climate Outreach)

The idea that “shame and force are ineffective ways to try to change behaviour” rings just as true in conveying the urgency of the climate crisis as it does in countering pandemic denial. So climate campaigners and communicators might want to think about how we adopt and adapt the concepts of harm reduction and clear, respectful risk communication from their original home in health care and addiction recovery.

Hopi Fear for Way of Life as Climate Warming Withers Corn

Smart Prosperity Study Digs into Human, Economic Impacts of Climate Change

Canada Signs Non-Binding Pledge for Sustainable Oceans

Pandemic Expected to Trigger Second Bankruptcies for Some U.S. Fossils

Honduras Looks for Help, Warns of Rising Migration After Climate Disasters

Barcelona Scrambles to Save Disappearing Beaches

Warming Makes Sea Turtle Hatchlings More Vulnerable

California Looks to Airborne Moisture to Quell Droughts, Fight Wildfires

Faster Carbon Cuts Will Show Results Within 20 Years, New Study Concludes

Greenhouse gas reductions that match up with a 1.5°C limit on average global warming would deliver “substantial near-term benefits” within 20 years, while reducing the risk of “unprecedented warming rates” over that time span by 13 times compared to no further efforts to mitigate climate change, according to a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Globe Editorial Board Calls for Deep Investment in Canadian Public Transit

With Canada’s government short on specifics for how the billions in “smart investments” promised in its recent Fall Economic Statement will be spent, the Globe and Mail is calling for deep investments in public transit as a timely and just use of the funds.

Wildfires, Pandemic to Drive 3-5% Increase in Food Prices

The COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, and changing food habits will drive up the cost of groceries by nearly C$700 for the average family next year, according to the latest edition of Canada’s Food Price Report produced by researchers at four Canadian universities.

New Mathematical Model Will Help Forecast and Fight Peat Fires

As the world warms, the planet’s carbon-dense peatlands are catching fire, creating fierce conflagrations with a “zombie-like” tendency to re-emerge. But a recent study published in the Proceedings of the Combustion Institute concludes that an elegant extrapolations of math can help land stewards prevent the fires before they start.

Year of Extraordinary Crisis ‘Breaks the System’ as U.S. Wildfire Crews Burn Out

By mid-September, there was no one left to call. The U.S. West, with its thousands of federal, state, and local fire engines and crews, had been tapped out.