There is much to share from the past week’s news articles on climate action.
Some topics point the way forward, such as hydrogen cars, Canada’s announcement banning certain plastics, socially responsible investing, and new net zero housing pilot projects. Others, call for more attention and concerted efforts to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions – nitrous oxide this time.
Of course, we will close by giving the last word to “the trees”.
Momentum is Building
We thought we would start by building on our cautiously optimistic post from two weeks ago. Here is the link to a BBC article which offers a similar appraisal on the significance of China’s new resolve to become carbon net-zero by 2060, titled, “Is the world starting to take climate change seriously now?” https://bbc.in/376d0yc
Canada Announces Ban on Certain Single-Use Plastics
Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement last week banning certain single-use plastics in Canada is a ‘good place to start, but the easy part,’ says this Globe and Mail editorial. In it, we learned that the decision acts on the recommendations of a report called, “Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste,” which was agreed to by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. Specifically, a recommendation in it that Canada find a solution by the end of 2021 for “single use items that are most likely to be released into the environment.”
Among the list of single use plastics to be banned in Canada are: plastic stir sticks, straws, checkout bags, cutlery, plastic rings on beer six-packs, and certain hard to recycle plastic takeout food containers.
This list of single use items fit the bill acording to the editorial, given their ubiquity as pollutants that have many viable alternatives and the fact that they don’t get recycled much thus ending up in landfill.
One challenge ahead identified for the near-term relates to the timing of the announcement on the heels of Alberta’s just announced economic plans to become a “plastics recycling hub for North America”.
The long-term heavy lifting remains in setting the price for production of necessary plastic products in a way that reflects the true, full costs associated with recycling them.
“Plastics are an essential part of modern life. They have uses from food protection to medicine to automaking. We need plastics, but we also need the responsible manufacture and disposal of plastics, so that their price represents their true cost. In the long run, that will benefit the economy, the environment and the petrochemical and plastics industries, as the Alberta government justifiably hopes.”
Globe and Mail editorial: https://tgam.ca/3jZtCLP
Canada wide action plan on zero plastics waste report: https://bit.ly/3lMBYHe.
This BBC article adds insights on Canada’s announcement within an international context, noting that Canada recycles just 10% of our plastics, and that similar legisltation was passed by the European Union last year. Promisingly, it also reports that in May, 180 countries agreed to a UN goal to reduce harmful ocean plastics worldwide. https://bbc.in/3iYMKrY
Hydrogen Powered Cars
We were excited to share the news last week about federal and provincial funding investments to support Ford auto’s commitment to produce electric vehicles at its Oakville Ontario plant as of 2025.
Learn more about the next wave of e-vehicles – hydrogen-powered cars – in this CBC article and videoclip: https://bit.ly/3j1Oq3Q
Apparently, in Burnaby BC at least, the emissions-free, hydrogen powered Toyota Mirai is already on the market, supported by the availabilty of three charging systems so far. The future we aspire to is emerging!
New Net-Zero Housing
Carbon-zero countries. Emissions-free hydrogen-powered cars. What else does the future hold to take us toward a more sustainable world?
We learned about Canada’s new net-zero energy housing standards at the Natural Resources website and its news release about pilot project investments: https://bit.ly/375ALXm
“The funding will support a project led by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) that will enable seven housing builders to construct net-zero energy and net-zero energy ready residential buildings in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.”
“Buildings and homes contribute approximately 17 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Net-zero energy buildings are designed and constructed to produce at least as much energy as they consume on an annual basis.”
“R-2000 is an established national standard with the training, certification, house-testing, inspections and overall quality assurance that are the essential basis to ensuring the integrity of net zero energy housing.” https://bit.ly/34WNrNt
This Eco-Home site presents images of the net-zero pilot homes, and pilot project results. It identifies the participating home building companies as “Under the pilot program, 23 individual Net Zero Energy Houses were built by six different builders (two from the RFP and four under the ecoEII project): Construction Voyer, Habitat Studio & Workshop Ltd., Mattamy Homes, Minto Communities Canada, Reid’s Heritage Homes, and Sloot Construction Ltd.” https://bit.ly/3nPh4sy
This Construction Executive site describes related, complimentary Green Building trends in the construction industry, including the third-party LEED certification program.
“The trend toward sustainable construction is changing the way projects are designed and built. The demand for green buildings continues to rise driven by increasing concerns over global warming, tighter environmental regulations and a growing focus on occupant health. In response to this demand, the construction sector is embracing green practices including delivering LEED-certified commercial projects.” https://bit.ly/33Y4Fec
Greenhouse Gas Challenge – Nitrous Oxide
While trends in reducing, eliminating or neutralizing greenhouse gas emissions for house building and cars look promising, this CBC article explains why challenges remain in agricultural production.
It profiles a new study published in the journal Nature which suggests that “nitrous oxide — a gas that is 300 times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide — is steadily increasing in the atmosphere.”
“While nitrous oxide is produced in different ways, the study found the largest contributor is agriculture, where it is produced as a by-product of nitrogen, largely used in agriculture as a fertilizer.”
Add nitrous oxide to methane and carbon in our growing awareness about harmful greenhouse gases.
As the TVOntario tag line says – Always Learning!
To read the full CBC article: https://bit.ly/311Mjaf
To access a Complimentary share file on the report itself: https://go.nature.com/2T0sWK1
Socially Responsible Investments
The World Economic Forum recently released 22 “ESG” metrics to help guide investment decisions that promote a green recovery from the pandemic. https://bit.ly/33V0VtU
“New York, USA, 22 September 2020 – The World Economic Forum today released a set of universal environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics and disclosures to measure stakeholder capitalism that companies can report on regardless of their industry or region. Organized around the pillars of principles of governance, planet, people and prosperity, the identified metrics and disclosures align existing standards, enabling companies to collectively report non-financial disclosures.”
“The report, “Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: Toward Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation”, comes at a pivotal moment. The social unrest, economic inequalities and racial injustice exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated demand from business, governments, standards bodies and NGOs for a comprehensive, globally accepted corporate reporting system.”
“ ‘This is a unique moment in history to walk the talk and to make stakeholder capitalism measurable,” says Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum. “Having companies accepting, not only to measure but also to report on, their environmental and social responsibility will represent a sea change in economic history.’ ”
“…Companies see the importance of social, climate and other non-financial factors as critical for their long-term viability and success. Some 86% of executives surveyed by the Forum agreed that reporting on a set of universal ESG disclosures is important and would be useful for financial markets and the economy.”
Canada’s former Bank of Canada head, Mark Carney, is now the United Nations’ Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance. In the artcle, he is quoted on the World Economic Forum’s ESG work, “Through this work you are demonstrating to shareholders, stakeholders and society at large that the private sector is committed to measuring and improving its impacts on the environment as part of the transition to a low carbon future. I encourage governments, regulators, the official accounting community and voluntary standard setters to work with the IBC towards creating a globally accepted system of sustainability reporting based on this project’s groundbreaking work.”
To learn more about “ethical” and “socially responsible” investments and the call for improved transparency in corporate reporting, we offer our Readers a few more articles as a place to start: https://bit.ly/376eJ6E, and, https://tgam.ca/3dreB2J.
Protectors of the Planet
We appreciate opportunities to learn about and celebrate our own local heroes.
Jamie Bastedo is a Yellowknife author, and is profiled in this CBC article, on the release of his new book, “Protectors of the Planet: Environmental Trailblazers from 7 to 97”.
” ‘It’s a book about real-life stories about a dozen daring eco-heroes from across Canada doing extraordinary things to protect our troubled planet,’ Bastedo said.” https://bit.ly/3lPtDT9
Last Word Goes to the Trees
We were fascinated to learn from the BBC about ‘the tree that changed the world map,” and how it became the national tree of Peru and Ecuador. Catherine owes a special debt of gratitude to the now endangered “cinchona officianalis” tree, since its bark is the source of the world’s first anti-malarial drug, quinine, which did indeed save her father, twice, when he fell ill to malaria during WWII with the British army. https://bbc.in/33XNzwP.
For Readers with the itch to go on a road trip to a unique “tree-focused” travel destination, this CBC article about a new Yukon hotel may be of interest: https://bit.ly/3kaVPiA
In addition to enjoying the photos of magnificent fall foliage, Readers may learn more about what fall colours can teach us about trees: https://bit.ly/379vKgj.