Here’s your weekly update with what you need to know about global climate change and the steps B.C. is taking to address the climate and ecological crises for the week of Aug. 8 to Aug. 14, 2022.
This week in climate news:
• Former Grenada minister tapped as next U.N. climate chief
• Court dismisses defamation suit against Vancouver Island environmental group
• UBC researchers launch new air pollution lab on wheels
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned for a decade that wildfires, drought, severe weather, such as B.C.’s deadly heat dome in June, and flooding would become more frequent and more intense because of the climate crisis.
Last August, it issued a “code red” for humanity and earlier this year the panel, made up of hundreds of scientists from around the world, said the window to stop global warming from exceeding 1.5 C was closing.
Last month, it released a report with solutions for how to drive down greenhouse gas emissions, mainly by transitioning away from fossil fuels.
A glance at B.C.’s carbon numbers:
- B.C.’s gross greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2019 (latest available data:) 68.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e.) This is an increase of 3.0 MtCO2e, or 5 per cent since 2007, the baseline year.
- B.C.’s net emissions in 2019: 67.2 MtCO2e, an increase of 1.5 MtCO2e, or two per cent, since 2007.
- 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 2030 emissions target: Between 40 and 45 per cent reduction.
- Canada’s 2050 emissions target: Net-zero.
Climate change quick facts:
- The Earth is now about 1.1 C warmer than it was in the 1800s.
- Globally, 2021 was the fifth warmest year on record.
- 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.
- 2015-2019 were the five warmest years on record while 2010-2019 was the warmest decade on record.
- 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% of climate scientists agree that the climate is warming and that human beings are the cause.
LATEST CLIMATE NEWS
The B.C. Supreme Court has dismissed a defamation lawsuit against an environmental group on Vancouver Island for speaking out against what they allege is a potentially damaging development proposal.
It’s the latest defamation suit to be tossed out under B.C.’s new anti-SLAPP legislation meant to protect against lawsuits aimed at silencing critics.
Richard and Linda Todsen of Todsen Design and Construction Ltd. launched the lawsuit last year against Ezra Morse and the Qualicum Nature Preservation Society, which was protesting the Todsens’ planned development on 6.6 hectares, or about six city blocks, land at Qualicum Beach.
The Todsens’ had applied to rezone an unused portion of the land to build 16 subdivided properties, which would include 14 single family homes, 10 secondary and garden suites, and two sets of duplexes, according to the judgment.
The climate resilience minister for the Caribbean island nation of Grenada has been tapped to become the next United Nations climate chief, according to three sources familiar with the selection.
Simon Stiell, who had served as Grenada’s minister for climate resilience and the environment until this year, will replace Patricia Espinosa, who finished her second, three-year term as executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in July.
The appointment was first reported by Climate Home News.
The UNFCCC declined to comment at this time.
Stiell has been a visible figure at U.N. climate negotiations, often calling for the world’s largest polluters to set more ambitious climate goals and to deliver finance promised to vulnerable countries, including small island nations. That funding is key to preparing for future climate impacts including extreme temperatures, rising sea levels, more frequent storms and drought.
UBC researchers have rolled out a new lab on wheels to track air quality in Metro Vancouver.
The PLUME lab, which stands for Portable Laboratory for Understanding Human-Made Emissions, was developed by Naomi Zimmerman, a professor of mechanical engineering at UBC, who studies air quality and its effects on health and the environment.
She said it will be used in several municipalities to measure concentrations of air pollutants, including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ground-level ozone, black carbon, methane and fine particles.
Zimmerman, who has also been collecting information on unpleasant smells in Metro Vancouver, wants to see if there is a correlation between areas with a high number of smell complaints — such as a meat processing plant in East Vancouver or agricultural odours in Delta — and air quality.
After decades of inaction in the face of escalating natural disasters and sustained global warming, Congress hopes to make clean energy so cheap in all aspects of life that it’s nearly irresistible.
The House is poised to pass a transformative bill Friday that would provide the most spending to fight climate change by any one nation ever in a single push.
Friday’s anticipated action comes 34 years after a top scientist grabbed headlines warning Congress about the dangers of global warming.
In the decades since, there have been 308 weather disasters that have each cost the nation at least $1 billion, the record for the hottest year has been broken 10 times and wildfires have burned an area larger than Texas.
—The Associated Press
A former federal election candidate who describes herself as a human rights and climate advocate has entered the B.C. New Democrat leadership race.
Anjali Appadurai is the second declared candidate in the leadership contest, joining NDP member of the legislature David Eby, who stepped away from his jobs as attorney general and minister in charge of housing to run for leader.
In June, Premier John Horgan announced his intention to step down once a new leader is chosen.
Appadurai is the director of campaigns for an organization called the Climate Emergency Unit and narrowly lost her bid for a federal seat in Vancouver last fall to the Liberal candidate in one of the closest races in the country.
The deadline for candidates to enter the B.C. leadership race is Oct. 4, with the party to announce the new leader on Dec. 3.
—The Canadian Press
The heaviest rain in Seoul in 115 years has spurred the South Korean capital to revive a $1.15 billion plan to improve drainage after floods exposed how even the affluent Gangnam district is vulnerable to climate change-driven extreme weather.
Experts say the city’s capacity to drain water is far behind what’s needed to handle a deluge like the one suffered this week. That has disastrous implications for low-lying areas like Gangnam, as these bouts of extreme weather are becoming increasingly common.
This week’s torrential rain killed at least 11 people across the northern part of the country, as of Thursday morning. The downpour, which began on Monday and shifted southwards on Wednesday, knocked out power, caused landslides and flooded roads and subways.
Monetary estimates of the damage were still being compiled.
In the wake of the downpour, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon announced on Wednesday the city will spend 1.5 trillion won ($1.15 billion) in the next decade to build six massive underground tunnels to store and release rainwater to prevent flooding.
B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman says the province is investigating complaints about pipeline construction activity continuing in the Coquihalla River in Hope despite the potential for harm to an early salmon spawning run.
Following concerns raised by an environmental group this week, the minister tweeted that the government would take action to investigate “within our jurisdiction,” while B.C. Green MLA Adam Olsen called on the NDP government to fight for the protection of the critical ecosystem.
Kate Tairyan, a volunteer for a group called Protect the Planet, told Postmedia Tuesday that she was appalled to see excavators for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion at the Coquihalla River, just a day after witnessing salmon schooling — the earliest she has ever seen.
Heyman noted that environmental permits and any potential compliance action related to salmon and fish habitats are handled by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canada Energy Regulator, however he said members of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service went to the site and “relayed information” to the relevant oversight bodies, including DFO and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission.
John Priessl, an Indigenous stream keeper for nearly 30 years, said he’s furious with the DFO for allowing a permit for work in this river at this time of year and stating things are okay at the site and no fish are being blocked.
“This is bar none the most destructive in-stream work I have seen in a salmon and steelhead trout creek in all those years,” said Priessl, whose work has included trying to protect the salmon creeks on Burnaby Mountain.