A Glimpse into Our Future Lives Following COP26

Here’s a glimpse into our future lives, some ways in which the decisions made at COP26 could change our every day life in the next 10-15 years, as written by Helen Briggs, the BBC Environment Correspondent. Even though it is a British perspective, it seems to have universal application. One spokesperson she interviews predicts we can expect an overall happier and healthier lifestyle in future.

In the second half of the blog we summarize the key pledges made at COP26 and take a look at Canada’s commitments.

A change in the way we get around…..

“Switching to an electric car is among a number of lifestyle changes we’re likely to be making. Experts predict that new electric vehicles could cost the same as new gas or diesel cars within the next five years. It is also possible to lease an electric vehicle, and there’s a growing second-hand market, where these vehicles are cheaper. Dozens of countries, regions and car companies have agreed to ramp up the use of electric vehicles and bring in new zero-emission buses and trucks. Meanwhile, others argue we need fewer cars on the road – walking and cycling more could also be among the changes we make.”

A switch to greener power…..

“More than 40 countries have signed up to phasing out coal. A similar number have committed to ensuring that clean energy is the most reliable and affordable option for powering our homes and businesses. For countries like the UK, this will mean continuing the move towards renewable sources such as wind and solar energy – and possibly more reliance on nuclear energy. It’s hoped the announcements made at Glasgow will send a signal to the market that it is worth investing in renewable energy.”

Our homes get greener…..

Photo credit Randy

Solar panels and heat pumps could become standard in our homes. We’ll build new houses using low-carbon alternatives to cement and concrete – and try to re-fit old ones. There’s also a focus on making sure our buildings, infrastructure and communities are able to withstand the current and future impact of climate change.

Eva Hinkers, Arup Sustainable Development Director says: “We also need to make sure [buildings] are fit for more extreme scenarios.” This could include improving green space in and around our homes to absorb extreme rainfall, installing “cool roofs” that reflect sunlight and prevent overheating, or introducing shutters so homes can withstand hurricane winds.”

We may start paying more for carbon…..

“Our lifestyles contribute to carbon emissions, whether we’re shopping for imported food, or flying away on a foreign holiday. In future, we may see the cost of a product’s carbon emissions being added to the price we pay – wherever it is made. So if a business doesn’t try and reduce the emissions of the goods it’s selling, its prices may have to go up. It’s hoped that will make consumers and businesses think again about how we consume and where we put our money. In response to this, some big household names like Amazon, Unilever and Ikea have now said they’re looking to ensure the cargo ships they use to deliver goods will run on cleaner fuel.”

Photo credit Kathy

More space for nature…..

“Nature’s role in fighting climate change and the need to restore the natural world – from forests to peatland – was high on the agenda at Glasgow, and we may see the benefits in greener spaces around our towns and cities. “Nature can be helping us here if we looked to actually treat it with the respect it deserves,” says Dr Emily Shukburgh of the University of Cambridge. The arguments to make space for nature are now clearer and louder than ever, says Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts. “There is now renewed momentum about the need to… protect forests and other precious habitats and put nature in recovery.””

More expensive food…..

“Breaking the link between cutting down forests in the global south and products consumed in the global north, such as soybeans, beef and palm oil, could end the era of cheap food. Experts say that a hard choice could be faced – deforestation will never be stopped if sustainability concerns are always out-competed by price: “Consumers will inevitably have to absorb some of these costs if we want to deliver on the COP 26 declaration – by paying more and consuming less,” says Toby Gardner of the Stockholm Environment Institute.”

Thursday’s Urban Market in Downtown Timmins File Photo

Your pension and investments could be moving…..

“More than 400 financial institutions – controlling an estimated $130tn of private finance – agreed at COP26 to provide more money for green technology. It means that many major pension providers are going to be looking at investing your money in more environmentally friendly sectors. This might include “helping our customers identify ways to improve the energy efficiency of their homes… investing in companies developing new, sustainable ways of living and working,” says Janet Pope of Lloyds Banking Group.”

A change of thinking…..

“We may also witness a shift in our way of thinking. Dr Stephanie Sodero of the University of Manchester says the goal of sticking to 1.5 degrees – above which scientists say climate impacts will become more dangerous and unpredictable – could galvanise community action. “On the ground, in UK communities and beyond, led by youth activists, I think there will be sustained and intense pressure to scrutinize all governance decisions – from local transport to national energy – through a climate lens,” she says. Matthew Hannon from the University of Strathclyde says the drive to net zero is likely to yield benefits such as cleaner air, quieter streets and better mental and physical health. “Delivering a just, net zero transition should ultimately result in happier, healthier lifestyles,” he says. “The question should therefore be less about what will I lose under net zero and more about what could I gain?”


Key Outcomes of the COP26

1. Pledge to End Deforestation By 2030: 

“Already 137 countries committed to end deforestation by 2030 in a move to protect the world’s forests. Amongst the signatories are Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo, Indonesia, Russia and the U.S., with more than US$19 billion in private and public funds pledged towards the plan. Germany, Norway, the U.S. and the U.K. led an approximately US$1.7-billion funding pledge to be given directly to Indigenous Peoples and communities in recognition of their role in protecting the land and forests as part of the wider deforestation pledge. If this promise is kept it would be one of the biggest achievements of COP26.”

2. Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Pledge: 

“Another agreement announced at COP26 saw 23 new countries (46 in total so far including Canada) make pledges to phase out coal power entirely by 2040. Clause 3 is a promise “to stop new construction for any planned coal plants which have not already achieved financial closure”. The signatories to the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement did not include China, India and the U.S., but the agreement does include some other large coal users like Indonesia, Ukraine and South Korea. Canada also committed a Billion dollars to help other countries wean themselves off coal and reiterated an election promise to end exports of thermal coal by 2030.

The U.S., Britain, France and Germany announced a plan to provide US$8.5 billion in loans and grants over five years to help South Africa phase out coal, as they get about 90 per cent of their electricity from coal-fired plants, a major emissions source.”

3. Green Investing Pledge:

“Banks, insurers and investors represented by UN climate envoy Mark Carney, who assembled the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero pledged on Wednesday to put combating climate change at the centre of their work and promised efforts to make green investing a priority. Carney put the figure at $100 trillion over the next three decades from the finance industry.”

4. Pledge to Stop Public Financing of Coal/Gas/Oil:

“Canada, the U.S. the U.K. and 27 other countries joined a deal to stop new direct public financing for coal, oil and gas development by the end of 2022 and to shift investment to renewable energy. It commits signatories to stop using loans, loan guarantees, grants, share purchases and insurance coverage from any government or government agency to finance new international fossil fuel developments. The deal does not include China, Japan or Korea, who are the world’s top fossil fuel funders besides Canada, which averages about $13.6 billion a year on financing fossil fuels, almost all of which flow through the federal crown corporation Export Development Canada. This is the first time that countries are really acknowledging that public financing oil and gas is a problem.”


Photo by Lucy

5. Global Methane Pledge:

“So far, 108 nations, including the US and the EU, have signed up to this initiative, which aims to reduce human-caused methane emissions by 30% between 2020 and 2030. That will require tighter controls on gas well and pipes, as well as actions on livestock and municipal landfills. Climate Action Tracker says these commitments are likely to reduce emissions by about 0.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. That figure will increase as more countries sign up. It does not include China’s plan, made after this Pledge, to reduce its methane output. Canada has previously committed to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas to 75% below 2012 levels by 2030, but has yet to say how it will meet its targets.”


6. Canada Pledges to Limit Biodiversity Loss:

Photo credit Lucy

“Trudeau received international praise when he told COP26 that Canada will impose a cap on oil and gas sector emissions “today” to ensure they decrease “tomorrow” at a pace and scale needed to reach net-zero by 2050. So far the government has not said how this will work.”

7. Canada Calls for Global Carbon Tax:

“Trudeau made a major contribution at COP26 when he showed leadership and urged all countries to impose a global price on carbon that would cover 60% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions (currently at 20%) . There are 64 carbon-pricing policies around the world. Though several European countries are on board, it is a tough set without the support of beg emitters like the USA and China.”

8. Canada Joins Commitment to Zero-Emissions Cars and Trucks:

“A memorandum of understanding was signed by 15 countries including Canada working toward 100% zero-emission cars and trucks by 2040 or earlier, or by no later than 2035 in leading markets. They pledged there would be 30% zero-emission vehicles by 2030, which is a new pledge from Canada. Unfortunately several of the major auto manufacturing countries did not sign.”

Photo credit Lucy

http://www.cbc.ca/news/science/canada-cop26-summary https://cutt.ly/DTCeAWP

9. Canada Coordinates Climate Finance Delivery Plan:

“Only 80% of the US$100billion promised by 2020 has been delivered to help developing countries mitigate their emissions and adapt to climate change. Essentially these funds are more than 2 years delayed. These “climate reparations” or this “solidarity fund” acknowledges that the green house gas emissions produced predominantly by rich countries has indirectly caused poor countries to suffer loss and damage. The Climate Finance Delivery Plan, compiled by the German and Canadian Governments at the request of the UK as host of COP26, projects that more than $100billion would be provided from 2023 to 2025.”

New poll: Canadians want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to deliver on climate promises in his first 100 days in office

Photo credits Lucy

Climate Plan Acceleration and Reasons for Hope

Photo credit Jim MacQuarrie

It is week # two of the COP26 meeting of world leaders in Glasgow. The good news is that there has been much daily coverage and profile given to this important gathering. The consensus view is that the threat of climate change is real and consequential (existential) and that there is heightened urgency for the world to act. Just a few years ago, this was not necessarily a given where climate deniers had a platform and influence in high places, including among prominent government world leaders.

As this CBC piece outlines, one of the key goals of COP26 is to secure global net zero by 2050 and “keep 1.5 degrees within reach”. Read more here on why it makes a critical difference to keep 1.5C within reach, and what is the difference between climate impacts for 1.5C and 2C – CBC: https://bit.ly/3EUmKsY

It is easy and understandable to feel discouraged knowing that already the world has warmed by 1.1C above pre-industrial temperatures, as the United Nations reports. There is a huge, sustained effort and such major change required globally ahead on so many levels, acting to common goals – by governments, economic sectors, businesses, organizations, communities and individual citizens – it can become overwhelming at times, to make sense of the myriad challenges and how best to make positive, impactful change in one’s personal sphere of influence.

Some, especially (but not only) youth activists, are growing impatient at the pace of change. Afterall, it is almost six years since the 196 parties first adopted the Paris Agreement at COP21 in Paris, on December 12, 2015, with the Agreement entering into force on November 4, 2016.  (See What is the Paris agreement, at: UNFCC: https://bit.ly/3mYYC2z)

We will spend time in upcoming blogs looking at the results and commitments arising from the annual meeting of the Council of Parties – COP26 in Glasgow.

For today, we wanted to share some positive news pieces–with a view to helping to keep up our spirits and optimism for change.

Five reasons to feel some hope after reading the IPCC report on climate change”

First, let’s start with some hope. Offered up by Rick Smith, in an October 2021 blog post for the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (at: https://bit.ly/3mYjMxs)

“Changes made in Canada and globally could help to trigger an acceleration in decarbonization.”

“..So, yes, there is a lot to feel anxious about between the covers of the new IPCC report.”

“But that’s not all there is. So often, with climate change, the public discussion takes on a tone that verges on nihilism. But the future is still ours to write. With the backing of the IPCC’s historic scientific report, here are my top five reasons that I’m ending this week feeling some hope: 

  1. The worst impacts of climate change can be avoided.
  2. Global warming is reversible—if we act fast.
  3. Global progress towards reducing emissions is already happening.
  4. Carbon doesn’t stick around forever.

“Between 65 per cent and 80 per cent of CO2 released into the air dissolves into the ocean over a period of 20 to 200 years. As the IPCC report makes clear, achieving low or very low greenhouse gas emissions will lead, within years, to discernible effects: swiftly reducing emissions today means that global temperature would begin to detectably trend downward within about 20 years.”

5. Rapidly reducing GHG emissions can be win-win-win. 

“Our report on Canada’s Net Zero Future shows that doing Canada’s part to keep warming to 1.5 is not just achievable, it will be beneficial to our future health and prosperity.” 

To access the full report – Canada’s Net Zero Future – Canadian Institute for Climate Choices – and to find out more about people and organizations involved in the Institute, go to: https://bit.ly/3C3nnP8

A Progress Report on Canada’s Climate Plan

So, how is Canada doing on our contribution to mitigate global warming, we wondered?

It is sometimes hard to decipher, and views are mixed on whether as a country we are doing enough, fast enough, particularly in terms of transforming our energy systems. As we will unpack in future blogs, taking earlier action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., hitting targets by 2030, enroute to 2050) makes a significant difference to achieving the longer-term goal of keeping 1.5C within reach. We liken it to being a bit like responding to the pandemic – going harder, early achieves a better result. 2030 targets matter.

Here is one report, by Clean Prosperity, that Canada’s climate plan has “a reasonable chance of meeting its 2030 targets”. “Measured” but still “good news” that we are seemingly on path to achieving our goals.

What is the goal? Canada’s climate action plan sets a target to cut emissions by 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. (https://bit.ly/3mZcZnu)

“Our modelling shows that the Liberals’ climate policies give them a reasonable chance of achieving their Paris Agreement target. But getting there will be no easy feat. It’s critical that the Liberals implement their policies quickly and prioritize them intelligently,” said Clean Prosperity Executive Director and the report’s lead author Michael Bernstein. 

“Based on the Clean Prosperity/ESMIA modelling, the three most important climate priorities for the Liberal government should be: 1) the Clean Electricity Standard; 2) regulations to reduce emissions from the oil and gas sector; and 3) policies to reduce emissions from road and off-road transport. These three priorities represent over three-quarters of the emissions reduction potential to 2030, and will be important for Canada’s long-term decarbonization and economic competitiveness.”

Read the full October 2021 report at: https://bit.ly/3bV0qD9

“Grassroots to Glasgow”

When ‘global’ feels too big and out of reach, some, like B.C.’s “Cool ‘Hoods Champs program” find that ‘local’ works to bring “ordinary people into the climate conversation”.

“The Cool ‘Hoods Champs program was created to bridge the knowledge gap between climate science and everyday people — by bringing solutions to where they live, said lead researcher Cheryl Ng.”

“…There are a lot of Canadians who care a lot about climate change, but they don’t know what to do about it,” said Ng.

“What better way to start than to just, you know, go to people right where they live and talk to them about how they can pick solutions with their family and their friends and their neighbours within the neighbourhood?”

Learn more about the UBC climate change workshop and positive steps we can all take to counter feelings of climate anxiety from this CBC piece at: CBC- https://bit.ly/3kir0Li

Mi’Kmaw Communities Go Solar to Reduce Carbon Footprint

Here are excerpts from another hopeful piece by CBC, profiling local community climate action by seven New Brunswick Mi’kmaq communities going solar toward the longer-term goal of becoming entirely carbon neutral. (CBC – https://bit.ly/3F0V9Xf)

“Four buildings in Fort Folly First Nation will soon be completely powered by the sun, as part of a move toward renewable energy in Mi’kmaw communities across New Brunswick.”

“Chief Rebecca Knockwood said the project is an investment in the future.”

” ‘As First Nations people, we’re protectors and keepers of the lands and of the environment. And we want to try and reduce our carbon footprint,’ she said.”

“In Fort Folly, about 40 minutes drive southeast of Moncton, near Dorchester, solar arrays are being installed on the roofs of the band office and community centre, and on ground mounts in front of the former bingo hall and the building that houses the community’s fisheries habitat recovery program.”

“Once complete, those buildings will be entirely carbon neutral.”

‘Exciting for the community’

“The solar panels will take five years to pay off, before generating about $17,000 per year. That extra revenue is being considered to offset costs for employment and youth programs.”

“N.B. Power’s net metering program allows individuals and organizations to install up to 100 kW of solar on a building. The owner receives credits for days where surplus electricity is produced, which offset the days with limited sunlight.”

(Full article at: CBC: https://bit.ly/3F0Vkln)

Old Crow, Yukon – Big Ambitions to be Carbon Neutral by 2030

We are inspired and humbled after witnessing the wisdom, grit and optimism for the future in this meditative CBC videoclip on how the small Yukon community of Old Crow on the Arctic Circle is taking action to adapt to climate change in order to still be able to practice their way of life, now and in the future.

The community of Old Crow has big ambitions to be carbon neutral by 2030.

We appreciate this window into hearing the elders explain how they ae applying a “climate conscious lens” as they act to mitigate the impact of climate change on the caribou’s habitat and shift to clean energy sources toward a livable community for future generations to come. We recommend taking six minutes for this inspiring video piece:  https://bit.ly/3wCimvV

David Suzuki Foundation – 10 Reasons to be Hopeful about Climate Action

Even David Suzuki, tireless champion for the environment and climate action, recognizes the need to feed and sustain hope, even while acknowledging as real the ‘grief, fear and injustice woven into the harsh reality of a changing climate.”

“Along with feelings of grief and fear about climate change, there are reasons for hoping that Canada can ramp up its climate ambition to help the critical global mission to limit warming to maintain a livable climate.” (Suzuki Foundation –https://bit.ly/3EXLRLE)

Ten Reasons to Be Hopeful about Climate Action

  • The cost of renewables and energy storage is dropping rapidly
  • Public opinion is on our side. Canadians want bold climate action
  • The kids are all right. The youth climate movement is not backing down
  • The Supreme Court affirmed that climate change is an emergency
  • Indigenous communities are taking energy and climate issues into their own hands
  • Canada has a strengthened climate plan and significant funding to implement it
  • Cities and towns are demonstrating leadership in climate action
  • The U.S. has stepped up its ambition and is normalizing bold action
  • Climate action creates millions of jobs — and everyone wants jobs
  • Centering equity in climate action will help address systemic causes and interconnected injustices

Readers may want to learn more about these ten reasons for hope, by viewing the details in the accompanying pop up windows at: https://bit.ly/3obNONK.

To illustrate, here is the accompanying blurb and information for the first reason listed above–

“The cost of renewables and energy storage is dropping rapidly:

“In 2019, jaws dropped when a report by International Renewable Energy Agency demonstrated that unsubsidized renewable energy in most circumstances became the cheapest source of energy generation. Then, the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2020 declared solar power the cheapest source of electricity in history. In addition, the cost of energy storage has dropped by more than 90 per cent over the past 10 years. These lower costs will continue to propel mass adoption of renewables and will make them available for many people.” (Suzuki Foundation – https://bit.ly/3mZSqHr)

Majority of Canadians Support Climate Policy

Good news reason number two on the Suzuki Foundation list above is “Public opinion is on our side. Canadians want bold climate action.”

This article by Erika Ibrahim on recent survey results  backs up this reason for hope. (Ibrahim – https://bit.ly/3BZtvb6)

Ibrahim reports that, “Sixty-nine per cent of respondents to an online survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they support Canada’s announcement at the summit that it will cap and reduce pollution from the oil and gas sector toward net zero by 2050.”

“Some 65 per cent of respondents also say they support the government’s new policy to stop exporting coal by 2030, a move which would end the trade abroad of about 36 million tonnes of the resource, currently 60 per cent of what the country produces.”

“Sixty-one per cent also support Canada’s recent policy announcement that it will halt subsidies that assist oil and natural gas companies to run and grow their operations outside the country by the end of 2022.”

“..Canadians were split on how they rate the country’s effort to address climate change, with half agreeing that Canada has taken great strides and 40 per cent disagreeing.”

“..Three in four respondents said they believe there is still time to put measures in place to stop climate change…”

– Ibrahim article: https://bit.ly/3obZfVQ

– Leger tracker website and survey highlights: https://bit.ly/3CW8wHA

– Leger Poll Full Report, https://bit.ly/303SGvZ

Photo Credit Lucy MacQuarrie


COP26 in Glasgow wraps up this week.

We plan on examining the reports on its impact and actions arising in future blog posts.

For now, we end with this succinct and hopeful appraisal by Rick Smith, in his blog for the Canadian Institute for Climate Choice:

“COP26 is a pivotal moment for Canada and the world.”

“There’s still just enough time to do what we need to do — so long as we’re smart, ambitious, and determined.”

(Smith, November 2, 2021: https://bit.ly/3EWE9l1)