CLIMATE CHANGE NEWS & VIEWS FROM AROUND THE WEB
Every crisis calls for vision… to rethink the future of the world and a renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world. The most important lesson we can take from these crises is our need to build together, so that there will no longer be any borders, barriers or political walls for us to hide behind.
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Youth climate activist Sadie Vipond and emergency physician Joe Vipond to lobby at COP26 climate conference
Sadie Vipond was just seven years old when she first experienced the negative effects of extreme weather, the kind expected to happen more often with climate change.
Her Calgary neighbourhood was evacuated because of severe flooding in 2013, the most destructive in Alberta’s history.
“I remember being woken up in the middle of the night by my grandmother saying, ‘We have to go.’ And I remember driving up to a family friend’s house and staying there for three days, I believe, and school had been cancelled at that point.”
Though their family home survived, Sadie, now 15, told White Coat, Black Art host Dr. Brian Goldman she was old enough to sense the danger in the situation and “definitely was very worried.”
Oilpatch leaders on COP26, carbon capture projects and a return to profitability
On the eve of the COP26 United Nations climate conference, a level of unease across the Canadian oilpatch might be expected. There are calls for countries around the world to wind down their oil and gas production as a critical step needed to slash emissions and address climate change.
The rapid wind-down of fossil fuels is needed, Environmental Defence’s Julia Levin warned last week, “in order to limit catastrophic levels of warming, save millions of lives and end harm to front-line communities.”
But after several years of low commodity prices, many energy companies are enjoying a return to hefty profits. Oil and gas prices are at multi-year highs — though that’s leading to calls for companies to earmark those funds to speed up their efforts to reduce emissions.
At the same time, the world is experiencing a shortage of fossil fuels as economies emerge from the pandemic — a situation that’s supporting the industry’s argument that oil and natural gas, in particular, remain critical for everyday life.
In Canada, many in the oilpatch also see opportunity in using technology to drive down greenhouse gas emissions. They contend the sector can play a role in helping the country achieve its climate goals.
Considering that the oilsands represent about 11 per cent of Canada’s total emissions and the rest of the oilpatch produces about another 15 per cent, the fossil fuel sector in Western Canada will likely play a critical role in determining whether the country reaches its 2030 climate goal.
Total CO2 emissions from the sector keep climbing as production is at a record high in Alberta.
To discuss the upcoming COP26 conference in Glasgow and the path ahead for the oilpatch, CBC News spoke with three people who have worked with and in the industry:
- Martha Hall Findlay — Suncor Energy’s chief sustainability officer and a former Ontario Liberal MP
- Andy Mah — CEO of Advantage Energy, an oil and gas producer in northern Alberta that owns a stake in Entropy, a carbon capture and sequestration firm.
- Gary Mar — CEO of the Canada West Foundation, the former CEO of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada and a former Alberta environment minister who attended COP5 as part of Canada’s delegation.
The Vancouver neighbourhood trying to put a dent in climate change
Government has a track record of setting ambitious targets and falling short
Canada’s track record has been pretty simple when it comes to climate targets.
Step 1: Set an ambitious goal
Step 2: Largely maintain the status quo
Step 3: Miss goal
Step 4: Set new goal
The historical pattern holds true with past agreements struck in Rio, Kyoto and Copenhagen. To meet the Paris target and the federal government’s revised target unveiled this summer, considerable change is necessary.
Canada is sending a delegation to the United Nations climate change conference, COP26, in Glasgow, which begins on Sunday, as world leaders try to set new emissions reduction goals to address climate change.
The Conference of Parties (COP), as it’s known, meets every year and is the global decision-making body set up in the early 1990s to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and subsequent climate agreements.
What’s clear is that meeting current climate goals in Canada won’t be simple, won’t be cheap and will require more than just one or two industries to chip in.
With climate change intensifying and scientists warning that humanity is running out of time to limit global warming to 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels, 2021 has been a fraught year for the planet.
The Emissions Gap Report 2021: The Heat Is On is the 12th edition in an annual series that provides an overview of the difference between where greenhouse emissions are predicted to be in 2030 and where they should be to avert the worst impacts of climate change.
The Emissions Gap Report 2021 shows that new national climate pledges combined with other mitigation measures put the world on track for a global temperature rise of 2.7°C by the end of the century. That is well above the goals of the Paris climate agreement and would lead to catastrophic changes in the Earth’s climate. To keep global warming below 1.5°C this century, the aspirational goal of the Paris Agreement, the world needs to halve annual greenhouse gas emissions in the next eight years.
If implemented effectively, net-zero emissions pledges could limit warming to 2.2°C, closer to the well-below 2°C goal of the Paris Agreement. However, many national climate plans delay action until after 2030. The reduction of methane emissions from the fossil fuel, waste and agriculture sectors could help close the emissions gap and reduce warming in the short term, the report finds.
Carbon markets could also help slash emissions. But that would only happen if rules are clearly defined and target actual reductions in emissions, while being supported by arrangements to track progress and provide transparency.
Shell’s CEO said that meeting energy demand while addressing climate change is “one of the defining challenges of our time.” But @Shell won’t put its money where its mouth is. I made this hypocrisy plain with a simple visual. pic.twitter.com/QvJHQiVxVm
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) October 28, 2021
Fossil Fuel companies are sitting on 13.9 million acres of our federal land they aren’t even using—and they want even more.
If each acre were a grain of rice, that would be 479 pounds. I demonstrated at a hearing with Big Oil ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/fFr53vIglr
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) October 28, 2021
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