Normally, what you worry about is what the weather is going to be like. Is it going to rain? Is it going to snow? Things like that. The reality is that there are these other impacts as well. You can’t go and do the hike that you like to do because it’s too hot or it’s too smoky or the place is on fire or the access is flooded.

North Vancouver resident Ian Lipchak. Cancelled trips and climate change: Backcountry enthusiasts notice impact on B.C.
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Sri Lankan teenager builds solar-powered tuk-tuk from scraps

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Power bills in Alberta surge, experts say climate change is partly to blame

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Edmonton declared a climate emergency in 2019. So what’s been done about it?

‘The declaration of climate emergency has already changed things,’ councillor says

Two years ago, during a summer marked by wildfire smoke and marches for climate change awareness, Edmonton city council declared a climate emergency and embarked on an ambitious mission to reduce the city’s carbon emissions.

While some welcomed the declaration as a sign of leadership to act on a growing global movement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, others wondered if it was just for show.

Revising the existing energy transition strategy, approved in 2015, was a move to counter the naysayers.

City administrators were directed to devise a strategy that would align with the city’s goals to reduce emissions by 35 per cent by 2025, 50 per cent by 2030, and be a carbon neutral community by 2050.

“The declaration of climate emergency has already changed things,” says outgoing Coun. Ben Henderson. 

“It really underlined for the people that we’re going to have to turn this into action, how important it was, and that council felt that it was important.” 

But how much has actually changed since then? 

CBC News analyzed the eight recommendations made on Aug. 27, 2019, when Edmonton declared a climate emergency. As of Aug. 11, progress has been made toward all of the calls to action. 

But the outcome of this fall’s municipal election could unravel some plans, and critics say the city still hasn’t accomplished nearly enough.

In a recent municipal poll commissioned by CBC Edmonton, respondents rated updating city facilities and operations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as an average of 6.7 out of 10.

About 60 per cent gave the priority a high score of seven to 10, and 28 per cent gave it a moderate score of four to six. Only 11 per cent gave it a low score of zero to three.

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NASA:Ocean Flow Vignettes

This visualization of U.S. East Coast ocean flows spans about 10 months and each frame is about 2 hours apart.

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Edmonton becomes first city in Western Canada to join global index tracking environmental sustainability as a tourism destination

Edmonton will be the first city in Western Canada to be graded on its environmental efforts through an international index in a bid to become a more attractive tourism destination.

Through the Global Destination Sustainability (GDS) Index, Edmonton’s energy efficiency strategies will be benchmarked and compared with cities across the globe. Explore Edmonton, the city’s visitor economy branch, is leading the initiative to learn where improvements in sustainability can be made.

Melissa Radu, director of social and environmental sustainability, said enrolling in the global index will allow the city to learn from other cities and make improvements in areas such as waste management, biodiversity protection and carbon emissions.

“We know more and more people are becoming more intentional about how they travel, where they choose to travel and how travel decisions are making an impact,” Radu said in an interview with Postmedia Tuesday. “It’s going to allow us to take an internal look at our destination compared to others, look at best practices from around the globe and start to form what the future of our destination will be on the sustainability front.”

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How climate change is impacting global supply chains

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Canada election: Complete list of promises about tackling climate change

Here’s a running list of the promises regarding climate change that Justin Trudeau, Erin O’Toole, Annamie Paul, Jagmeet Singh, and Yves-Francois Blanchet have made from the time the campaign starts to election day:

Conservative Promises

Aug. 16: The Conservatives release a 160-page platform that includes a promise to scrap the Liberals’ carbon tax and replace it with a carbon pricing scheme that O’Toole says is not a tax. The plan would price carbon at $20 a ton initially, increasing to $50 a ton by 2030. A levy would be added to all purchases of “hydrocarbon-based” fuels, such as gasoline, and the proceeds from the levy would then be placed into a Personal Low Carbon Savings Account. Industries can expect the price on carbon to increase to as high as $170 a ton by 2030 if the Conservatives form government. This pledge is in-line with the Liberals’ plans for heavy-emitters of greenhouse gasses.

Liberal Promises

Aug. 18: The Liberal Party says it will support the training of 1,000 new community-based firefighters to “ensure we have the support we need in future fire seasons” across the country.

The Liberals say they will work with provinces and territories to provide equipment – like Canadian-made planes to drive up provincial aerial firefighting capacity – and supply safety gear to firefighters.

NDP Promises

Aug. 19: The NDP promise to help stabilize the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The party will set a target of reducing Canada’s emissions by at least 50 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

The party promises to work with partners to establish “multi-year national and sectoral carbon budgets as a key guiding framework to develop Canada’s path to 2030 and beyond.” They say they will create and fund a Climate Accountability Office to offer “independent oversight of federal climate progress, to engage the public, and to make recommendations on how to achieve our goals.”

Green Party Promises

Aug. 16: Green Leader Annamie Paul kicked off her party’s election campaign with a climate platform, calling for an end to the building of new pipelines, fracking and gas exploration.

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BBC Reality Check explains how to cut your carbon footprint

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How technology in the air battles fires on the ground

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How water shortages are brewing wars

Unprecedented levels of dam building and water extraction by nations on great rivers are leaving countries further downstream increasingly thirsty, increasing the risk of conflicts.

Speaking to me via Zoom from his flat in Amsterdam, Ali al-Sadr pauses to take a sip from a clear glass of water. The irony dawning on him, he lets out a laugh. “Before I left Iraq, I struggled every day to find clean drinking water.” Three years earlier, al-Sadr had joined protests in the streets of his native Basra, demanding the authorities address the city’s growing water crisis.

“Before the war, Basra was a beautiful place,” adds the 29-year-old. “They used to call us the Venice of the East.” Bordered on one side by the Shatt al-Arab River, the city is skewered by a network of freshwater canals. al-Sadr, a dockhand, once loved working alongside them. “But by the time I left, they were pumping raw sewage into the waterways. We couldn’t wash, the smell [of the river] gave me migraines and, when I finally fell sick, I spent four days in bed.” In the summer of 2018, tainted water sent 120,000 Basrans to the city’s hospitals – and, when police opened fire on those who protested, al Sadr was lucky to escape with his life. “Within a month I packed my bags and left for Europe,” he says.

Around the world, stories like al Sadr’s are becoming far too common. As much as a quarter of the world’s population now faces severe water scarcity at least one month out of the year and – as in al-Sadr’s case – it is leading many to seek a more secure life in other countries. “If there is no water, people will start to move,” says Kitty van der Heijden, chief of international cooperation at the Netherlands’ foreign ministry and an expert in hydropolitics. Water scarcity affects roughly 40% of the world’s population and, according to predictions by the United Nations and the World Bank, drought could put up to 700 million people at risk of displacement by 2030. People like van der Heijden are concerned about what that could lead to.

“If there is no water, politicians are going to try and get their hands on it and they might start to fight over it,” she says.

Over the course of the 20th Century, global water use grew at more than twice the rate of population increase. Today, this dissonance is leading many cities – from Rome to Cape TownChennai to Lima – to ration water. Water crises have been ranked in the top five of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks by Impact list nearly every year since 2012. In 2017, severe droughts contributed to the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two, when 20 million people across Africa and the Middle East were forced to leave their homes due to the accompanying food shortages and conflicts that erupted.

Peter Gleick, head of the Oakland-based Pacific Institute, has spent the last three decades studying the link between water scarcity, conflict and migration and believes that water conflict is on the rise. “With very rare exceptions, no one dies of literal thirst,” he says. “But more and more people are dying from contaminated water or conflicts over access to water.”

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Go Now! Landsat & the Calypso Caper

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