Climate change is showing up in our daily lives whether we recognize it or not.

The Union of Concerned Scientists
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More fire and floods, but fewer trees

St. Albert will face more floods, bigger fires and longer droughts in days ahead under global heating, a new federal report suggests, and those disasters could make this city’s tall trees a thing of the past. 

Natural Resources Canada released the Prairie provinces chapter of its Canada in a Changing Climate report Dec. 7. The report, set to be published in chunks throughout 2021, looks at the vulnerabilities, risks and challenges global heating presents to this country, and how we might adapt to it. 

The Prairies contain a third of Canada’s land, its third-largest economy (Alberta) and its fourth and fifth most populous cities (Calgary and Edmonton), the report said. It has also seen the strongest warming to date across southern Canada, and suffered six of the 10 costliest natural disasters in this nation’s history, all of which happened in the last 10 years. Those disasters included events such as the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, which incinerated neighbourhoods, forced some 90,000 people to flee their homes and smothered St. Albert with smoke.  

“There’s good scientific evidence to indicate that in a warmer climate, these (extreme weather) events will be even more damaging,” noted lead author David Sauchyn of the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina.  

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UN:Emissions Gap Report 2020

This eleventh edition of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report has been produced in a year where the COVID-19 crisis has dominated the news and policymaking and has caused immense suffering and economic and social disruption worldwide.

This economic disruption has briefly slowed – but far from eliminated – the historic and ever-increasing burden of human activity on the Earth’s climate.

This burden is observable in the continuing rise in extreme weather events, including wildfires and hurricanes, and in the melting of glaciers and ice at both poles.

The year 2020 has set new records – they will not be the last.

As in previous years, this report assesses the gap between estimated future global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if countries implement their climate mitigation pledges and the global emission levels from least-cost pathways that are aligned with achieving the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.

This difference between “where we are likely to be and where we need to be” is known as the ‘emissions gap’.

The report also examines two areas that are highly relevant for bridging the gap and which have become even more relevant in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic: the shipping and aviation sectors, where international emissions are not covered by nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and lifestyle change.

Reflecting the unusual circumstances, the 2020 report deviates from its usual approach of exclusively considering consolidated data from previous years as the basis for assessment.

To maximize its policy relevance, preliminary assessments of the implications of the pandemic and associated rescue and recovery measures are included throughout the report.

Are we on track to bridging the gap?

Absolutely not.

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