b.c. climate news: demonstrators protest fracking at ndp convention | thousands of christmas tree seedlings lost in b.c. drought | province releases draft proposal to protect biodiversity

here's your weekly roundup of local and international climate change news for the week of nov. 13 to nov. 19, 2023.

weekly roundup of climate change news to nov. 19, 2023
here's your weekly roundup of news concerning the climate and ecological crises. nick procaylo / png
here’s all the latest news concerning the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, and the steps leaders are taking to address these issues.

in climate news this week:

• b.c. releases draft proposal to protect biodiversity
• canada’s environment minister considers appeal after plastic companies win suit challenging ottawa over listing substance as ‘toxic.’
• scientists warn in a new report this week that the world is facing a dangerous future because of climate change if emissions are not reduced
• ubc professors use math skills to teach climate crisis in the classroom

since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, mainly because of burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, which produces heat-trapping gases. the un’s intergovernmental panel on climate change has warned for decades that wildfires and severe weather, such as b.c.’s deadly heat dome and catastrophic flooding in 2021, would become more frequent and more intense because of the climate emergency.
the panel has issued a “code red” for humanity and last year it said the window to stop global warming from exceeding 1.5 c was closing. in april 2022, it released a report with solutions for how to drive down greenhouse gas emissions, mainly by transitioning away from fossil fuels.

research shows that the warmer, drier conditions are leading to increased drought, which exacerbates the  wildfire  situation. whether the cause is human or lightning, many of the planet’s tinder-dry forests are igniting earlier in the season because of global heating.



check back here each saturday for more climate and environmental news or sign up for our new climate connected newsletter here.

climate change quick facts:

  • the earth is now about 1.2 c warmer than it was in the 1800s.
  • globally, 2022 was the fifth hottest year on record, while 2016 was the hottest.
  • human activities have raised atmospheric concentrations of co2 by nearly 49 per cent above pre-industrial levels starting in 1850.
  • the world is not on track to meet the paris agreement target to keep global temperature from exceeding 1.5 c above pre-industrial levels, the upper limit to avoid the worst fallout from climate change.
  • on the current path of carbon dioxide emissions, the temperature could increase by as much as 4.4 c by the end of the century.
  • in april, 2022 greenhouse gas concentrations reached record new highs and show no sign of slowing.
  • emissions must drop 7.6 per cent per year from 2020 to 2030 to keep temperatures from exceeding 1.5 c and 2.7 per cent per year to stay below 2 c.
  • 97 per ent of climate scientists agree that the climate is warming and that human beings are the cause.

(source: united nations ipccworld meteorological organizationunepnasa,

 source: nasa
source: nasa

latest news

anti-fracking demonstrators gather at ndp convention saturday

dozens of anti-fracking demonstrators, led by activist group frack free b.c., gathered outside the victoria conference centre, where the b.c. ndp was holding a convention saturday.

the group is calling on the b.c. government to take action to end fracking because of the emissions that contribute to the climate crisis.

the demonstrators want b.c. to stop issuing new fracking permits, to set a timeline to phase out existing fracked gas production and infrastructure, and to develop a plan to support workers and communities to transition to a more sustainable economy.

“there is a critical mass of public and political opposition to the continued expansion of fossil fuel extraction while the world burns – and it’s reaching a tipping point,” said ashley zarbatany, chair of the b.c. ndp standing committee on environment and economy in a statement saturday.

“fracking has become a political issue that the b.c. government must fix; it cannot continue to avoid having to stand up to the big oil and gas companies that are fuelling the climate crisis.”

—tiffany crawford

us-china climate deal builds momentum for stronger cop28 outcome

the cop28 climate summit in dubai later this month is perhaps the last chance for the world to change course and start cutting emissions this decade. after months of bumps and hiccups, things may be clicking into place for the meeting to make progress.

the us and china, the world’s biggest polluters, vowed to step up joint action to tackle climate change in a revival of collaboration that will be crucial for a successful cop. the bilateral deal between washington and beijing comes after negotiators secured a framework deal to set up a fund to help vulnerable nations deal with loss and damage from increasingly extreme weather — something that just two weeks ago looked as though it could upend the talks.

it adds up to momentum for the united nations conference in two weeks time, which will focus on charting how far off course the world is to keeping global warming below 1.5c and what needs to be done to correct it. key barometers for a good outcome include clear commitments on phasing out fossil fuels, while also providing funding for those countries dealing with the most severe impacts of climate change.

cooperation between the us and china has been key in recent years to unlock climate progress, paving the way for global pacts. there have been concerns that china could try to block stronger emissions-cutting language. the terms of the deal were announced by the us state department and china’s ministry of ecology and environment in identical statements.

read the full story here.

—bloomberg news

coquihalla highway now has six ‘climate-resilient’ bridges between hope and merritt

a washed-out section of the coquihalla highway has been permanently repaired with six new “climate-resilient” bridges as part of the project.

a stretch of highway 5 between hope and merritt was heavily damaged by flooding during an unprecedented atmospheric river on nov. 14, 2021. overall, 20 sites and 130 kilometres of highway were hit by washouts and floods.

emergency repairs allowed for a reopening to commercial traffic 35 days later, and the coquihalla reopened to all traffic on jan. 19, 2022.

now, six bridge spans in three locations are in place that are designed to withstand extreme weather events better than those that were destroyed by the floods.

newly completed are spans at bottletop bridge, 50 km south of merritt, and jessica bridge, 20 km north of hope. the two bridges at juliet, 53 km south of merritt, were finished earlier this year.

read the full story here.

—joseph ruttle

canada’s environment minister considers appeal after plastic companies win suit challenging ottawa over listing substance as ‘toxic’

canada’s federal court has ruled in favour of several major plastic companies in a lawsuit challenging the canadian government’s decision to list plastic items such as straws and grocery bags as toxic.

earlier this year, the court heard a suit launched by a coalition of plastic companies, which included dow chemical, imperial oil and nova chemicals, challenging regulations of single-use plastics. the companies allege that ottawa’s listing of plastics as toxic under the canadian environmental protection act is unlawful. the province of alberta also intervened in the case.

the federal court judge ruled thursday that the government order to add plastic as a schedule 1 toxic substance is “both unreasonable and unconstitutional,” and retroactively quashed and declared it invalid and unlawful as of april 23, 2021. the judge said it’s not reasonable to say that all plastic manufactured items are harmful because the category is too broad.

a b.c.-based environmental law group, which intervened in the federal government’s court battle, expressed disappointment with the decision thursday.

lindsay beck, a lawyer at ecojustice, said that by listing plastics as a toxic substance the government took a “vital first step” toward curbing plastic pollution and ensuring its harms are mitigated.

canada’s environment minister steven guilbeault said the government is “strongly considering” an appeal.

read the full story here.

—tiffany crawford

evs only bright spot in world’s failing fight against climate change: study



global efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions are failing in almost every way, with one exception: the boom in electric vehicles.
that’s the conclusion of a study that was jointly conducted by the bezos earth fund and other non-profits which assessed 42 different measures key for the world hitting net zero by 2050. they cover electricity, industry, transport and land as well as the need to scale up nascent carbon-removal technologies and climate finance.
the study shows six areas of the economy are going in completely the wrong direction, including the need to phase out government financing of fossil fuels, making steel production greener and reducing the share of passenger car journeys. other areas — like reforestation and curbing beef output — are heading the right way but too slow, with ev sales the only metric on track.
building a net-zero world is crucial to fighting climate change and extreme weather that’s been blamed for killing crops, lowering water levels on key conduits and causing deadly fires and floods. the report comes as officials from around the world prepare to gather in dubai at the end of this month for a fortnight of climate talks.
“global efforts to limit warming to 1.5c are lagging behind on nearly every measure,” said sophie boehm, a research associate at the world resources institute. “despite decades of dire warnings and wake-up calls, our leaders have largely failed to mobilize action at anywhere near the pace and scale needed to avert increasingly catastrophic and irreversible impacts.”



—bloomberg news
 richard davis, owner of oh christmas tree farm in action in langley, b.c., on november 15, 2023. (nick procaylo/postmedia)
richard davis, owner of oh christmas tree farm in action in langley, b.c., on november 15, 2023. (nick procaylo/postmedia) nick procaylo / 10102932a

thousands of christmas tree seedlings lost in b.c. drought

the owner of a christmas tree farm wears two hats — and only one of them is a santa hat.
in the off-season, b.c. tree farmers plant, prune and tend to trees in various stages of growth, ensuring that every tree chopped the previous christmas is replaced with another evergreen that will be ready for trimming in five to 10 years.
but successive summers marked by heat and drought are making the job tougher.
the head of the b.c. christmas tree association estimates more than 5,000 seedlings were lost due to drought this summer, with about 250 b.c. growers leaving the business over the last decade.
while seedling loss is unlikely to impact tree availability this year, the overall trend is concerning, said larry whitehead, owner of red truck trees in south surrey.
“a lot of seedlings died, including my own,” he said. “more growers have turned to irrigation. i wouldn’t recommend starting a new field without it.”
but irrigation systems are costly, and b.c. tree farmers are being squeezed from all directions. high land prices, urbanization and competition from imported christmas trees mean it can be hard to make a go of it, particularly when the entire year’s profit is made in the six weeks before christmas.



—glenda luymes
 file photos of one of the spotted owls at a spotted owl captive breeding program in langley.
file photos of one of the spotted owls at a spotted owl captive breeding program in langley. ric ernst / png

b.c. releases draft framework for protecting biodiversity

the b.c. government is inviting the public to comment on its draft framework to protect biodiversity.

the draft was developed with first nations and other parties, including industry, non-governmental organizations, local communities, municipal leaders and academia, according to the government.
the final framework will be released next year.

members of the public can access the draft framework on the b.c. government website and provide comments by contacting:

the b.c. wilderness committee said it was analyzing the proposed framework, saying it’s a step in the right direction however these frameworks are happening while habitat is being destroyed and species are being pushed toward extinction.
the committee’s conservation and policy campaigner charlotte dawe said laws are needed now to protect at risk species.
“the longer government delays on delivering a law, the harder it will be to tackle the biodiversity crisis and its devastating impacts in b.c., especially with no immediate interim measures to safeguard the most vulnerable ecosystems and species.”

ubc professors use math skills to teach climate crisis in the classroom



university of b.c. professors are using their math skills to teach students how to understand and develop solutions to the climate crisis.
more than 5,000 undergraduate students at ubc this year will have climate science incorporated into the mathematical problem sets and activities they are assigned.
sven bachmann, an associate professor of mathematics at ubc, said although his expertise is in quantum mechanics, he wanted to incorporate climate science into the math curriculum so that the learning material was more relevant to the real-world problems students are faced with. he collaborated with brian marcus, ubc site director of the pacific institute for mathematical sciences and climate scientists at ubc. together they worked with undergraduate student raphael kelly, who developed the problem sets over the summer.
“some of the examples we were using were outdated,” he said thursday. “by introducing examples that are relevant to today’s world, students perceive mathematics as being something useful and lively. and we are going to be educating them about applied science — so not only about climate science, but also as a way to think about the climate crisis.”
for example, the researchers prepared a homework assignment that will be given to first-year students in calculus that asks them to provide the mathematical reasons for how the greenhouse effect works and how it’s related to concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.



—tiffany crawford
 emissions from the smoke stack of the electricite de france coal-fired power plant in cordemais near nantes, france.
emissions from the smoke stack of the electricite de france coal-fired power plant in cordemais near nantes, france. stephane mahe/reuters files

ahead of cop28, scientists warn of ‘dangerous future’ if emissions not curbed

the world is facing a dangerous future because of climate change if emissions are not reduced, scientists warn in a new report ahead of the cop28 climate summit later this month.

the lancet countdown report, published this week, says the health impacts of climate change, such as heat-related deaths and food insecurity, are surging worldwide.

heat-related deaths of people over age 65 increased by 85 per cent from 2000 to 2004, the report says. it add extreme weather events jeopardize water security and food production, putting millions of people at risk of malnutrition.
the researchers say more frequent heatwaves and drought were responsible for 127 million more people experiencing moderate to severe food insecurity in 122 countries in 2021, compared with 1981 to 2010, according to the report.
the report also warns that a changing climate is accelerating the spread of life-threatening infectious diseases.
it concludes that adaptation efforts have been insufficient to protect people from the growing hazards and that health inequities are growing. and, that not enough effort has been made to reduce emissions, noting energy-related co2 emissions grew 0.9 per cent in 2022, to a record high.
 source: the 2023 report of the lancet countdown
source: the 2023 report of the lancet countdown



due to polluting fuels, household air pollution led on average to 140 deaths per 100,000 across 62 countries in 2020, the report said.
—tiffany crawford

canadian government adds $170 million to challenge fund for low-carbon projects

julie dabrusin, parliamentary secretary to the minister of environment and climate change, announced the government will add $170 million to the challenge fund to support projects that deploy proven, low-carbon technologies, such as energy efficiency retrofits, waste diversion, and fuel switching, like renewable energy production or heat pump installations.
she said the money will help canada meet its 2030 emissions reduction targets.
the announcement was made at the university of victoria to highlight progress on a project to electrify a portion of the district energy system that services 32 buildings across its main campus.
supported by up to $2.4 million from the 2022 challenge fund, the university is replacing one existing natural gas boiler with electric boilers, which will reduce consumption of natural gas and its overall greenhouse gas emissions.
the ministry is now accepting applications for the challenge fund until feb. 8.

applicants can find more information on the program, project eligibility, and the application process by visiting the low carbon economy challenge website.



—tiffany crawford

climate change in texas school textbooks is causing friction in america’s biggest oil and gas state

how science textbooks in texas address climate change is at the centre of a key vote expected friday after some republican education officials criticized books for being too negative toward fossil fuels in america’s biggest oil and gas state.
the issue of which textbooks to approve has led to new divisions on the texas state board of education, which over the years has faced other heated curriculum battles surrounding how evolution and u.s. history is taught to more than 5 million students.
science standards adopted by the board’s conservative majority in 2021 do not mention creationism as an alternative to evolution. those standards also describe human factors as contributors to climate change.
but some republicans on the 15-member board this week waved off current textbook options as too negative toward fossil fuels and failing to include alternatives to evolution. one of texas’ regulators of the oil and gas industry, republican wayne christian, has urged the board to “choose books that promote the importance of fossil fuels for energy promotion.”
texas has more than 1,000 school districts and none are obligated to use textbooks approved by the board. still, the endorsements carry weight.



—the associated press

social media

a glance at carbon numbers:

  • b.c.’s gross greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions in 2020 (latest available data) were 64.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (mtco2e). this is a decrease of 0.9 mtco2e (one per cent) from 65.5 mtco2e in 2007, the baseline year for emissions reduction targets.
  • b.c.’s net greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions in 2020 were 63.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (mtco2e.) this is a net decrease of 2.0 mtco2e, or three per cent, since 2007.
  • b.c.’s net emissions in 2019: 67.2 mtco2e, an increase of 1.5 mtco2e, or two per cent, since 2007.
  • b.c. does not include emissions from wildfire smoke in its calculations.
  • b.c.’s 2030 target: 40 per cent reduction in net emissions below 2007 levels.
  • b.c.’s 2040 target: 60 per cent reduction.
  • b.c.’s 2050 target: 80 per cent reduction.
  • canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 were 670 million tonnes, up from 659 million tonnes in 2020.
  • canada’s 2030 emissions target: between 40 and 45 per cent reduction.
  • canada’s 2050 emissions target: net-zero.

guides and links

b.c. flood: read all our coverage on the fraser valley and beyond

frequently asked questions about climate change: nasa

climate change made b.c. heat wave 150 times more likely, study concludes

b.c.’s heat wave: intense weather event is linked to climate crisis, say scientists

expert: climate change expected to bring longer wildfire seasons and more area burned

covid-19 may have halted massive protests, but youth are taking their fight for the future to the courts

climate displacement a growing concern in b.c. as extreme weather forces residents out of their homes

do you know someone who is doing something positive in the fight against climate change? please email with story ideas and tips.

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