CLIMATE CHANGE ROUND UP FOR THE WEEK ENDING: AUGUST 24, 2019

GETTING REAL ABOUT CANADA’S CLIMATE PLAN

Elections Canada warns environment groups that calling climate change real could be considered partisan

Earth’s future is being written in fast-melting Greenland

MELTING GLACIERS ARE HELPING CAPTURE CARBON

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GETTING REAL ABOUT CANADA’S CLIMATE PLAN

Where We Stand Today

Our dilemma While unprecedented, efforts under the PCF are insufficient. Canada isn’t yet on track to meet its 2030 target. According to the latest assessment from the federal government, there is still a gap of 79 million tonnes of GHGs between our 2030 target emissions and the levels Canada is on track to achieve. Even more troubling, we know that our current target is nowhere near what it would take to hold global warming to the 1.5°C limit enshrined in our Paris commitment. A report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October 2018 confirms that the current 2030 climate pledges of all Parties to the Paris Agreement aren’t consistent with any scenario that limits warming to 1.5°C. Rather, we can expect to see warming of between 2.6°C and 4°C if nations continue down our current path.

Canada’s Fair Share:

Why Our Climate Plan Needs to Do More Countries with more historical responsibility for contributing to the climate crisis by emitting carbon into the atmosphere, and that have more wealth to tackle the problem, should do more. Canada falls into both categories.

Despite our country’s small population, Canada has ranked among the top 10 global carbon polluters for most of the last century. When it comes to per-capita emissions, the picture gets even more grim: Canadians emit more per person than almost any other country, including all Europe nations and Russia (and that’s including several other large, cold countries). Oil and gas operations are the largest and fastest growing source of carbon pollution in the country, with transportation emissions coming a close second in terms of size. Meanwhile, Canada is one of the richest nations on the planet with one of the lowest-emitting electricity grids. Climate Action Tracker, an independent international think tank, has assessed the Canadian climate commitment to be “highly insufficient”.

Climate Action Network’s latest calculations indicate that for us to do our fair share, Canada’s target would have to double in ambition to reduce GHGs 60% below 2005 levels by 2030, while ramping up our international climate finance. The bottom line is, we need to do more, and quickly.

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Elections Canada warns environment groups that calling climate change real could be considered partisan

The warning comes after Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada, has expressed doubts about the legitimacy of climate change

A pre-election chill has descended over some environment charities after Elections Canada warned them that discussing the dangers of climate change during the upcoming federal campaign could be deemed partisan activity.

An Elections Canada official warned groups in a training session earlier this summer that because Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada, has expressed doubts about the legitimacy of climate change, any group that promotes it as real or an emergency could be considered partisan, said Tim Gray, executive director of the advocacy group Environmental Defence.

“We need to ensure that we’re not saying things that are going to be considered to be illegal by Elections Canada.” Tim Gray, executive director of the advocacy group Environmental Defence.

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Earth’s future is being written in fast-melting Greenland

HELHEIM GLACIER, Greenland — This is where Earth’s refrigerator door is left open, where glaciers dwindle and seas begin to rise.

New York University air and ocean scientist David Holland, who is tracking what’s happening in Greenland from both above and below, calls it “the end of the planet.” He is referring to geography more than the future. Yet in many ways this place is where the planet’s warmer and watery future is being written.

It is so warm here, just inside the Arctic Circle, that on an August day, coats are left on the ground and Holland and colleagues work on the watery melting ice without gloves. In one of the closest towns, Kulusuk, the morning temperature reached a shirtsleeve 52 degrees Fahrenheit (10.7 degrees Celsius).

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MELTING GLACIERS ARE HELPING CAPTURE CARBON

FULL-TILT CHAOS HAS descended on the Arctic, a region that’s now warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. This summer it’s been sweltering under unprecedented heat, and wildfires have so far consumed 2.4 million acres in Alaska alone, releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. It’s so hot up there that thunderstorms, more often seen in tropical climes, are striking near the North Pole.

Add to this bizarro affair a strange, perhaps counterintuitive finding in the far north of Canada, right next to Greenland. Researchers have found that watersheds fed by melting glaciers are actually soaking up a significant amount of carbon dioxide, in contrast to your typical river, which emits carbon dioxide. On average during the 2015 melting season, per square meter (to be clear, not in total) these glacial rivers consumed twice as much CO2 as the Amazon rainforest. So ironically enough, glaciers melting under the weight of global warming can help sequester carbon, making such watersheds a previously unrecognized CO2 sink.

If you were looking for a way out of our impending climate doom, however, this ain’t it. For one, the sequestering powers of glacial meltwater can’t keep up with our out-of-control emissions, or even other climate change-induced emissions from the Arctic like melting permafrost. And if we keep melting glaciers, we’ll run out of meltwater too. Still, the findings are a key piece in understanding the monumentally complex carbon cycle on this planet.

Glacial rivers are very different from rivers elsewhere in the world. One striking difference is they’re largely abiotic—algae and fish typically don’t colonize them because they’re just too cold. So instead of being chock-full of life, they’re chock-full of sediment.

“As these glaciers are retreating or advancing, which they do every year, they’re actually forming a lot of very fine sediments that are just wide open on the landscape,” Kyra A. St. Pierre, a biogeochemist at the University of British Columbia

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