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Why climate change is coming for your wallet — and what we can do about it

Within three years, each Canadian could be $700 a year poorer due to worsening climate damages. Fortunately, we’re not powerless before this threat.

This article was written by Dave Sawyer and Ryan Ness, and was published in the Toronto Star on September 24, 2022.

What comes to mind when you think about the costs of climate change?

Is it parched fields or unprecedented heat waves? A wildfire sweeping through a town in B.C. or Alberta? A house swallowed by a swollen river in Manitoba or Quebec?

These events are devastating and memorable — and yes, they represent some of the costs of climate change that Canada is already paying for.

But climate change isn’t just about isolated extreme weather events. It isn’t about costs to somebody else, somewhere else, sometime in the future. The costs of climate change are already here today. They’re already driving up the cost of living for Canadians, and they’ll escalate dramatically in the years to come.

Climate change is reaching into your wallet in hundreds of ways, from higher grocery bills due to supply-chain disruption, to soaring insurance premiums on your home and cottage, to the inevitable tax hikes to pay for climate damage and climate-proofing infrastructure.

That’s the major takeaway from a forthcoming report, being released on Wednesday, from the Canadian Climate Institute: climate change impacts are a present and growing drag on the economy, pulling down GDP, depressing investment and exports, and killing jobs — and Canadians will bear the brunt of those costs. Households face a double whammy: climate change pushing up expenses, while economic opportunities evaporate due to slower growth.

For more than three years, the Canadian Climate Institute has been researching the costs of climate change, and that research has culminated in the report called “Damage Control: Reducing the Costs of Climate Impacts in Canada.” We ran 84 different scenarios, among them two separate global-emissions scenarios and a range of plausible climate change impacts in Canada, and tested the results through an expert review process to reveal the most detailed picture yet of what climate change is doing to the Canadian economy.

Maybe the most important finding is this: climate change is no longer a distant threat; it’s here today, and it’s doing real damage to Canada’s economy. Our research shows that as soon as 2025 — just over two years from now — climate-induced damages will be slowing Canada’s economic growth to the tune of $25 billion annually, equal to about half the expected annual growth in our economy. Beyond 2025, the damages will escalate, potentially wiping out half a million jobs by 2050 and almost three million jobs by the end of century.

Fortunately, Canada is not powerless before this threat. Our research shows that proactive adaptation measures to protect Canadians can cut the costs of climate change in half. Canada needs to quickly scale up our adaptation and investment strategies to match the scale of the risk we’re facing, starting with the forthcoming National Adaptation Strategy. For too long, Canada’s response has failed to match the magnitude of the climate threat.

Investing in adaptation is a no-brainer. A dollar invested today in adaptation measures will return $15: $5 in direct benefits, like reducing the cost of repairing damaged infrastructure, and $10 of indirect benefits, such as avoiding the costs of supply-chain disruptions and maintaining labour productivity.

Obviously, limiting further climate destabilization needs to be a priority as well. If Canada and other countries are able to successfully reduce emissions in line with their targets on top of proactive adaptation here at home, “Damage Control” finds that future climate damage to our economy and reduction to our GDP could be reduced by three-quarters.

For years, we’ve collectively underestimated the costs of climate change inaction and undervalued the benefits of mitigation and adaptation. Inaction, it turns out, is eye-wateringly expensive.

Climate change impacts don’t just show up as catastrophic losses, like the loss of your house to a flood or a fire. They will increasingly start to show up as the red ink on your bank balance, the loss of a job, the decline in the value of your retirement nest egg, and the stress of expenses piling up while earnings slow.

Climate change costs. But we have an opportunity to act now, and slash the bill by up to 75 per cent before it fully comes due.

Dave Sawyer is the principal economist at the Canadian Climate Institute. Ryan Ness is the adaptation research director at the Canadian Climate Institute. Their macroeconomic report “Damage Control: Reducing the Costs of Climate Impacts in Canada” comes out on Sept. 28.

Featured

Generation Greta is growing up — and they’re angry

They gathered at Queen’s Park, and in more than 600 locations worldwide Friday — a little older, a little wiser and a little angrier.

This article was written by Marco Chown Oved and was published in the Toronto Star on September 24, 2022.

Marco Chown Oved

It’s hard to believe it was only four years ago when a Swedish teenager skipped school for the environment and inspired millions around the world to do the same.

But for many of the kids who followed in Greta Thunberg’s footsteps, the past four years have not flown by.

Instead, they’ve been punctuated by disappointment and failure. As the Fridays for Future movement grew bigger and more ambitious — drawing more than six million people into the streets worldwide at its peak in 2019 — the same cannot be said for the actions of world leaders on the climate file.

While there have been promises to cut emissions, Generation Greta maintains they’re far short of what’s needed to avoid climate disaster.

Demonstrators walked to Yonge Street, then south to Yonge and Dundas, for a short stop, then reassembled at Nathan Phillips Square.

Friday afternoon, they gathered at Queen’s Park, and in more than 600 locations worldwide — a little older, a little wiser and a little angrier.

“We’re here because the climate crisis is real,” said Aliénor Rougeot, 23, one of the protest organizers. “But our emissions are still going up.”

“And everyday, the people in the towers over there, in the banks, the people in government do nothing. They allow the destruction of our future to take place.”

“Because of climate inaction over decades, people are dying now,” she added. “Thirty-three million people have been displaced in Pakistan because of floods, because of the climate crisis.”

More than 1,000 people were on hand in Toronto for one of the first global climate rallies since the pandemic brought in-person gatherings to a halt. And the bright-eyed kids of four years ago were nowhere to be found.

Seventeen-year-old Theodore Lam cut his afternoon classes at Marc Garneau Collegiate to bring his younger sister, Sophia, to the rally.

Hundreds gathered at Queen's Park for a Youth Climate Rally on Friday to bring attention to climate change.

“Governments keep on making targets and keep on missing them,” he said. “The climate emergency is here. Government needs to act like it.”

Students, union activists and Indigenous people from across the city struck a confident but strident tone.

Their demands, for example, are precise and ambitious. They want a commitment to a 60 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions nationwide by 2030 — a full 50 per cent more than the current federal target.

They want an end to all fossil fuel subsidies and a massive investment to transition to a green economy, while respecting Indigenous sovereignty and a just transition for those who will lose their jobs, their homes and their livelihoods to extreme weather.

In between turns at the microphone, Rougeot offered her thoughts on how the youth climate movement has grown up.

“A tremendous amount has changed,” she said. “In 2019, I was offering suggestions, hoping they’d be followed. Now, it feels much more like demands: This is what you must do as people who are working for us. As elected officials, you’re accountable to us.”

“So it’s a real change from optimism and hope. Now it translates into anger,” she said.

A few hundred people gathered at Queen's Park for a Youth Climate Rally to bring attention to climate change. After some speeches and songs, the group walked to Yonge Street, then south to Yonge and Dundas, for a short stop, then reassembled at Nathan Phillips Square.

The politicians on hand did not address the crowd. MPPs Mary-Margaret McMahon, Peter Tabuns, Mike Schreiner and Kristyn Wong-Tam preferred instead to use their presence as a sign of solidarity.

Other things have changed as well, including a global context of rapidly rising prices and record corporate profits.

“We have people asking themselves the question, ‘Can we afford climate action when we can’t afford a full tank?’” said Rougeot. “It makes me angry that the people who are profiting off pollution and inflation are feeding that narrative.”

It’s a message that was echoed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres this week when he told world leaders the fossil fuel industry is “feasting on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfall profits while household budgets shrink and our planet burns.”

Featured

How to be a Hero for All our Children

This article was written by Lindsey Fielder Cook and was published by the Quaker United Nations Office on April 21, 2021.

How to be a Hero for All our Children: A People’s Climate Toolkit is a guide to personal and political climate action. Gathering climate science from the latest reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), alongside suggested personal actions and questions for politicians, “How to be a Hero” is an accessible resource to share with local communities and as part of educational initiatives.

“How to be a Hero” is offered in two versions. The shorter A6 booklet is designed as a conversation starter or to put through doors, and features colourful graphics to engage new readers and visual learners. The A5 “extended version” offers a simpler layout and features further information and questions for politicians. Both publications offer full bibliographies that link readers to the relevant IPCC reports, offering easy and direct access to the climate science given to their governments.

The publications are accessible online and via a “print at home” version which can be used for campaigning and personal distribution. To request a physical copy of the publication, please follow this link.

You can print on your own below. They are available in English, French, and Spanish.

Featured

The feared future is here — the courage to act is not

As individuals and politicians, we are so lacking in the courage, awareness and determination required in the face of what is happening to our planet.

This article was written by Jerry Levitan and was published in the Toronto Star on September 6, 2022.

“A love of nature keeps no factories busy.”

— Aldous Huxley, “Brave New World”

In 2013 I gave a lecture at The New School for Social Research in New York about the politics of film. One part of that presentation was the obsession in Hollywood with apocalyptic films and the usual American heroes preventing or mitigating pending global destruction.

For example, “The Day After Tomorrow,” a film about natural disasters causing a new Ice Age and “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact,” films depicting asteroids colliding with Earth. The list goes on to the more recent, depressingly sardonic, “Don’t Look Up,” and its take on the uselessness of politicians in the face of glaringly apparent existential threats. These films seem like glitzy documentaries now.

According to Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s minister of climate change, one-third of her country has been submerged by historic flooding. She calls it a “crisis of unimaginable proportions.”

CNN reported that a study in the journal Nature Climate Change has determined the dramatic and continuous melting of Greenland’s ice sheet will result in 10-inch rise in sea level. Denmark and Greenland researchers have concluded that approximately 3.3 per cent of the Greenland Ice Sheet – about 110 trillion tons of ice – will thaw because of climate changes that have already happened.

China is rationing electricity because of droughts, extreme heat and fires. Spain’s water supply for cities and farms are at some 36 per cent capacity and underwater relics such as an 11th century church and a prehistoric man-made stone circle have now resurfaced, all brought on by climate change.

In Chile, scientists have recovered, due to a melting glacier, an unprecedented and comprehensive fossilized ichthyosaur, an ancient marine reptile with intact embryos. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the accelerating melting of the Yukon’s permafrost has exposed the well-preserved remnants of Ice Age animals, from wolves to camels to giant beavers.

No doubt this is happening all over the once-frigid world and we will continue to be bombarded by discoveries of our planet’s evolutionary history because of our toxic conduct.

Here in Ontario, the Ford government plans to replace the aging Pickering nuclear plant with four new contracts for natural gas burning power generation. The Ontario Government’s planned highway 413 will pave paradise over farmland, the Greenbelt and waterways.

Buried in all this and other cataclysmic news is the announcement that the last member of an Indigenous tribe in Brazil, that isolated themselves from human contact, has died. He and his group were off the grid that surrounded them and not enamoured by the material world.

How foolish we are as a species. As individuals and politicians, we are so lacking in the courage, awareness, discipline and determination required in the face of what is happening and needs to be done. Behaviour needs to change and our collective economic choices need to reflect this burgeoning existential crisis because the feared future is here.

Jerry Levitan is a Toronto lawyer, filmmaker, actor, writer and musician.

Developing countries need cash, Germany, Canada say

This article was written by Petra Sorge and was published in the Toronto Star on September 28, 2022.

Germany and Canada are urging fellow developed nations to fulfil their commitments to help developing countries meet the bill for tackling climate change, German deputy minister for international climate politics Jennifer Lee Morgan said in Berlin.

A common 10-point progress report drawn up in co-operation with Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault will be released at the end of October.

It’s an evaluation of the so-called Delivery Plan, under which developed countries committed more than a decade ago to mobilize $100 billion (U.S.) in public and private funds annually for climate adaptation and renewable energies in less developed countries. As the target was missed in 2020, at COP26 in Glasgow the nations reaffirmed their determination to reach it by 2025.

“It is not acceptable that this $100billion goal is not yet reached,” Morgan said at a World Energy Council conference in Berlin.

Germany will also reach out to the World Bank to make changes to the plan, Morgan said, adding she hoped for a tangible contribution from Australia also.

“We try to make our fair share as Germany and others also have to catch up.”

Berlin has so far committed to deliver $6 billion annually to 2025.

Insurance may not fully cover damages

Most residential policies require add-on for flooding

This article was written by Rosa Saba and was published in the Toronto Star on September 28, 2022.

Damage caused by Fiona in Rose Blanche-Harbour le Cou, N.L. Parts of eastern Canada suffered “immense” devastation, officials said Sunday after the powerful storm swept away houses.

Many Atlantic Canadian homeowners may be on the hook for a significant portion of the damages to their homes caused by post-tropical storm Fiona due to a lack of insurance covering flooding caused by storms.

Residential home insurance policies usually cover wind damage, including falling trees, and certain kinds of water damage, according to Amanda Dean, vice-president, Atlantic, for the Insurance Bureau of Canada. However, they normally require an add-on policy in order to cover floods, she said.

These overland flood endorsements didn’t exist in Canada before 2015, she said, when an increasing number of flooding events made it clear that additional coverage was needed.

But even those flood policies don’t normally cover damages from storm surges, which are difficult for insurers to model as sea levels rise and coastlines erode, said Dean.

“Without accurate risk modelling, the risk is deemed too high to make the coverage affordable and/or available,” she said.

Some uninsurable damage to residential properties may be eligible for coverage under the federal Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements program (DFAA).

There are gaps in the Canadian insurance industry when it comes to natural disasters, said Nadja Dreff, senior vice-president of global insurance at DBRS Morningstar.

Because of these gaps, “a large proportion” of the people affected by Fiona in Atlantic Canada likely won’t be fully covered for the damage to their homes, said Dreff.

The industry is trying to catch up even as these disasters become more frequent and unpredictable, she said.

The Co-operators Group Limited began offering storm surge insurance to homeowners in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia in 2018, according to news releases from the insurance co-operative.

The storm surge insurance includes rising water levels and waves caused by storms in its coverage.

“To our knowledge, Co-operators is the only Canadian insurer that offers storm surge protection,” said the agency’s vice-president, George Hardy, in a statement.

The insurance industry is “eager to continue working with government to create a national public-private insurance program for overland flooding that offers protection to all Canadians,” said Dean.

Dean said climate change has drastically increased the amount insurers pay annually in severe weather-related claims. Insurers in Canada currently pay on average more than $2 billion in claims related to severe weather annually, he said. That’s compared to an annual average of $632 million between 2001 and 2010.

DBRS Morningstar estimated the storm Fiona will cause between $300 million and $700 million in insured losses in Atlantic Canada for a record high in the region.

The credit rating agency said in a report that amount is roughly in line with previous natural disasters in other provinces such as the flooding in B.C. last year, which saw $515 million in insured losses.

Canadian airlines make move to sustainable fuel

This article was written by Marco Chown Oved and was published in the Toronto Star on September 28, 2022.

Canada’s aviation industry is betting big on sustainable aviation fuel, and plans to go from powering a few planes a year to sourcing10 per cent of all jet fuel from sustainable sources by 2030.

The plan announced Tuesday by federal Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra, will require a massive scaling-up of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production, and will likely require new refineries to be set up in Canada to meet demand.

“Canada’s Aviation Climate Action Plan is a good example of how we can come together to set a netzero emission vision and lay out the actions needed to get us on the right path,” said Alghabra in a statement.

SAFs, made by refining used cooking oils and other industrial byproducts, promise to reduce emissions from air travel by up to 80 per cent. Because they are chemically identical to petroleum-based jet fuel, they can be blended and poured into existing planes’ fuel tanks without any modifications to the vehicles. But supply is far short of demand. Currently, less than one per cent of jet fuel is SAF and production will have to increase exponentially to meet growing demand from airlines as they rush to decarbonize their operations.

Like the International Air Transport Association, Canada’s airlines aim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and Tuesday’s report lays out a path to get there that relies on SAFs for the bulk of emission reductions. Even the most optimistic scenario, however, projects that emissions will stay flat until 2030.

Trudeau vows to build more resilient infrastructure

Storm ‘churned up’ sea floor and eroded P.E.I. coastline, Canadian Space Agency finds

This article was written by Hina Alam and was published in the Toronto Star on September 28, 2022.

Top: A satellite image of Prince Edward Island on Aug. 21. Bottom: A satellite image of P.E.I. on Sunday, a day after post-tropical storm Fiona landed. Huge underwater plumes of sand and soil can be seen extending far offshore.

‘‘ Those loose sand dunes, if they keep washing away, there’s going to be a wide-open hole there for the ocean to come right through. We have to save them first. MARVIN GRAHAM OWNER OF GRAHAM’S DEEP SEA FISHING IN STANLEY BRIDGE, P. E. I.

STANLEY BRIDGE, P. E. I. Justin Trudeau travelled Tuesday to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, where he pledged to find ways to build more resilient infrastructure after inspecting the extensive damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona.

“There’s always lessons to be learned,” the prime minister told reporters in Stanley Bridge, P.E.I., where a massive storm surge and hurricane-force winds upended buildings and tossed fishing boats onto the shore.

“Unfortunately, the reality with climate change is that there’s going to be more extreme weather events. We’re going to have to think about how to make sure we’re ready for whatever comes at us.”

On Saturday morning, Fiona left a trail of destruction across a wide swath of Atlantic Canada, stretching from Nova Scotia’s eastern mainland to Cape Breton, P.E.I. and southwestern Newfoundland.

Power was knocked out, scores of homes were flattened, roads were washed out and the resulting cleanup is expected to take months if not years to complete. As well, the record-breaking storm is being blamed for two deaths — one in Newfoundland and Labrador and the other in Nova Scotia.

Thousands of homes and businesses were still without electricity by late Tuesday afternoon — more than122,000 of them in Nova Scotia and about 61,000 in P.E.I.

When asked if it was time for Ottawa to invest more in burying overhead power lines, Trudeau said: “We’re looking at ways of building more resilient infrastructure.”

Marvin Graham, owner of Graham’s Deep Sea Fishing in Stanley Bridge, said Trudeau asked him how much the storm would cost in terms of lost business, considering his fishing boat had been lifted out of the water and dumped on the town’s wharf.

Graham said it was too early to tell and he told Trudeau that something had to be done about recurring storm surges battering the coastline.

“Those loose sand dunes, if they keep washing away, there’s going to be a wide-open hole there for the ocean to come right through,” Graham said. “We have to save them first.”

On Tuesday, the Canadian Space Agency posted two satellite photos of P.E.I., one taken on Aug. 21, the other on Sunday, a day after Fiona lashed the island.

The second photo shows the blue waters around the Island streaked by huge underwater plumes of sand and soil extending far offshore.

The agency posted a tweet saying the photos illustrate “the extent to which the extreme wind and wave action of the storm has churned up the sea floor and eroded the coastline.”

Jennifer Stewart, external relations manager with Parks Canada in P.E.I., said the storm has caused the most severe coastal erosion she’s seen since she began her career in 2000. The erosion is particularly significant at Dalvay Beach, she said, where dune systems used to block the view of the water from the nearby roadway.

“There was a dune system. It’s completely gone, and now the road is eroding away,” Stewart said. “It is shocking. It completely changed the look of the landscape in this area.”

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said damage to the economy is coming into focus, especially when it comes to the farming sector, which has reported huge setbacks for those who grow potatoes, soybeans, apples and feed corn.

As well, the premier said many dairy barns, fishing boats and potato storage buildings had been damaged or destroyed. And he cited extensive damage reported by mussel and oyster farms.

“We’ve been hit by something bigger than we’ve ever been hit with before,” King told a news conference. “We’re all feeling the effects of that. We’re all very fragile.”

In Ottawa, Defence Minister Anita Anand confirmed there are now about 300 military members assisting with recovery efforts in Atlantic Canada, with Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Newfoundland each getting 100 troops. Anand said the military is mobilizing another 150 troops in Nova Scotia and 150 for Newfoundland.

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said 13 Indigenous communities had been affected by the storm, and that local authorities are now scrambling to ensure they have enough food and fuel.

Hurricane Ian strikes western Cuba

Florida orders 2.5 million people to evacuate as officials try to predict where storm will hit

This article was written by the Associated Press and was published in the Toronto Star on September 28, 2022.

Fallen utility poles line a street after hurricane Ian hit Pinar del Río, Cuba, on Tuesday. Power was initially knocked out only in Cuba’s western provinces, but eventually went out across island’s entire grid.

Hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba as a major hurricane Tuesday — eventually leaving the entire island without power — then churned on a collision course with Florida over warm Gulf waters amid expectations it would strengthen into a catastrophic Category 4 storm.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Cuba suffered “significant wind and storm surge impacts” when the hurricane struck with top sustained winds of 205 km/h.

Cuba’s Electric Union said work is being done to gradually restore service to the country’s 11 million people between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Power was initially knocked out in Cuba’s western provinces, but subsequently the entire grid collapsed.

Ian made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane and devastated the Pinar del Río province, where much of the tobacco used to make Cuba’s iconic cigars is grown.

The storm was expected to grow stronger over the warm Gulf of Mexico as it approached the southwest coast of Florida, where 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate.

It was not yet clear precisely where Ian would crash ashore. Its exact track could determine how severe the storm surge is for Tampa Bay, said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. Landfall south of the bay could make the impact “much less bad,” McNoldy said.

Gil Gonzalez boarded up his windows Tuesday and had sandbags ready to protect his Tampa home. He and his wife had stocked up on bottled water and packed flashlights, battery packs for their cellphones and a camp stove before evacuating.

“All the prized possessions, we’ve put them upstairs in a friend’s house … and we’ve got the car loaded,” Gonzalez said on his way out.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis urged people to prepare for extended power outages, and to get out of the storm’s potential path.

“It is a big storm, it is going to kick up a lot of water as it comes in,” DeSantis told a news conference in Sarasota, a coastal city of 57,000 that could be hit. “And you’re going to end up with really significant storm surge and you’re going to end up with really significant flood events. And this is the kind of storm surge that is life threatening.”

NASA rolled its moon rocket from the launch pad to its Kennedy Space Center hangar, adding weeks of delay to the test flight.

The hurricane warning covered roughly 350 kilometres of Florida’s west coast, including Tampa and St. Petersburg, which could get their first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921.

“It’s a monster and then there’s the confusion of the path,” said Renee Correa, who headed inland to Orlando from the Tampa area. “Tampa has been lucky for 100 years, but it’s a little scary now.”

The sky’s the limit

This article was written by Ellen M. Banner of the Seattle Times and was published in the Globe & Mail on September 28, 2022.

A prototype all-electric plane took its first flight Tuesday in central Washington State. Built by a startup, Eviation, the aircraft is powered by 21,500 Tesla-style battery cells.

Government regulations slowing global energy shift, Shell says

THis article was written by Emma Graney and was published in the Globe & Mail on September 28, 2022.

Governments around the world – including Canada – must accelerate sluggish permitting processes for renewable power and carbon-reduction projects in order to meet crucial climate goals, and address an “unresolved crisis” that is delaying the projects that will be key to a low-carbon economy, say executives from energy giant Shell PLC.

Sitting at the side of a recent energy conference in Calgary, Shell International’s vice-president of global business environment, Laszlo Varro, told The Globe and Mail the world’s conventional fossil-fuel-based energy system is ramping down faster than the buildup of a new, greener system.

And a lack of investment is stifling the energy infrastructure flexibility that will be key to building a resilient, secure global energy supply, he said.

The issue has come into sharp focus in Europe, where Russia’s war on Ukraine – and Moscow’s weaponization of its oil and natural gas resources, including reduced gas deliveries via the Nord Stream pipelines – have led to an energy crisis. The resulting skyrocketing prices have the European Commission eyeing unprecedented market intervention, and families and businesses across the continent rethinking how much energy they use as they prepare for a winter of hardships.

Relatively stable gas prices and solid renewables generation have helped stabilize European power prices this month, according to an analysis released Tuesday by data firm Rystad Energy, with average September rates charged to users dropping more than 20 per cent compared with August. But leaks in the Nord Steam pipelines this week will likely escalate gas market volatility.

“Bluntly, people are scared. People are scared that they will not have heating in the winter, and they are scared that they will not be able to pay their heating bills,” Mr. Varro said.

While there’s a strong appetite among investors for clean-energy assets, Mr. Varro says lethargic supply chains and slow movement to train people in the skills needed for a greener economy mean there will be “a considerable period” when natural gas plays a significant role in plugging the energy gap between fossil fuels and renewables.

He also sees an “unresolved crisis in many countries,” where permitting and regulations stymie rapid project development.

Shell Canada president and country chair Susannah Pierce sees two major permitting hurdles here: wind farms and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects.

With a goal to get to net-zero emissions worldwide by 2050, Shell has bet big on both.

Last year, it signed its first renewable energy power purchase agreement in Alberta with BluEarth Renewables Inc. to offtake 100 megawatts of wind capacity from the Hand Hills Wind Project near Drumheller, Alta.

Shell’s Quest CCS facility at its Scotford Upgrader outside Edmonton has captured more than six million tonnes of carbon dioxide since it opened in 2015, and the company is investigating more CCS opportunities globally to try to build 25 million tonnes of carbon capture capacity by 2035.

The regulatory system to permit a new CCS project takes about five years in Canada, Ms. Pierce said, but the technology needs to roll out within with next six years to ramp up decarbonization – leaving little time to actually build the facilities.

“I think it’s really important to make sure that when we think about our climate targets, that we take a look at what pace and scale is the technology available, and how does the regulatory system support that?” she said.

Ms. Pierce thinks wind project permitting, which takes about as long as that of a fossil fuel project, should be accelerated.

“That’s something that we should definitely look at. If we’re serious about decarbonization with these technologies, we need to make sure that the regulatory system supports it,” she said.

The United States has also taken “a very big leap forward” by incentivizing CCS and renewable projects under the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, which Ms. Pierce said provides Canada with a good opportunity to revisit its levels of investment.

“It just opens up a conversation to say, ‘Okay, if we’re trying to drive these capital investments in this jurisdiction, we need to understand what the rest of the world is doing,’ and that’s across every type of investment we’re trying to make in this country,” she said.

Hurricane Ian strikes Cuba, Florida braces for storm

This article was written by Cristiana Mesquita and Curt Anderson, and was published in the Globe & Mail on September 28, 2022.

Hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba as a major hurricane Tuesday and left one million people without electricity, then churned on a collision course with Florida over warm Gulf waters amid expectations it would strengthen into a catastrophic Category 4 storm.

Ian made landfall in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province, where officials set up 55 shelters, evacuated 50,000 people, and took steps to protect crops in the nation’s main tobacco-growing region. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Cuba suffered “significant wind and storm surge impacts” when the hurricane struck with top sustained winds of 205 kilometres an hour.

Ian was expected to get even stronger over the warm Gulf of Mexico, approaching the southwest coast of Florida, where 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate.

Tropical storm-force winds were expected across the southern peninsula late Tuesday, reaching hurricane-force Wednesday – when the eye was predicted to make landfall. With tropical storm-force winds extending 225 kilometres from Ian’s centre, damage was expected across a wide area of Florida.

Its exact track could determine how severe the storm surge is for Tampa Bay, said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. Landfall south of the bay could make the impact “much less bad,” Mr. McNoldy said.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urged people to prepare for extended power outages and to get out of the storm’s potential path.

“It is a big storm, it is going to kick up a lot of water as it comes in,” Mr. DeSantis told a news conference. “And you’re going to end up with really significant storm surge and you’re going to end up with really significant flood events. And this is the kind of storm surge that is life threatening.”

He said about 30,000 utility works have already been positioned around the state, but it might take days before they can safely reach some of the downed power lines. “This thing’s the real deal,” Mr. DeSantis said. “It is a major, major storm.”

Trudeau pledges stronger infrastructure

This article was written by Hina Alam and was published in the Globe & Mail on September 28, 2022.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks at damage to lobster boats in Prince Edward Island after post-tropical storm Fiona.

PM assesses damage by post-tropical storm Fiona as more than 180,000 homes and businesses still without electricity Tuesday

Justin Trudeau travelled Tuesday to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, where he pledged to find ways to build more resilient infrastructure after inspecting the extensive damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona.

“There’s always lessons to be learned,” the prime minister told reporters in Stanley Bridge, PEI, where a massive storm surge and hurricane-force winds upended buildings and tossed fishing boats onto the shore.

“Unfortunately, the reality with climate change is that there’s going to be more extreme weather events. We’re going to have to think about how to make sure we’re ready for whatever comes at us.”

Mr. Trudeau also paid a brief visit to the Cape Breton community of Glace Bay, where he met with residents and surveyed a blustery, rain-soaked neighbourhood where he was shown two homes with their roofs torn off.

Afterward, he was asked whether it’s time to consider stronger building codes given the increasing intensity of storms. “How we make sure that families don’t have to go through this level of anxiety is certainly part of the conversation we can have around building codes, around expectations,” he said.

On Saturday morning, Fiona left a trail of destruction across a wide swath of Atlantic Canada, stretching from Nova Scotia’s eastern mainland to Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island and southwestern Newfoundland.

Power was knocked out, scores of homes were flattened, roads were washed out, and the resulting cleanup is expected to take months, if not years, to complete. As well, the record-breaking storm is being blamed for two deaths – one in Newfoundland and Labrador and the other in Nova Scotia.

“The federal government is here as a partner,” Mr. Trudeau said in Stanley Bridge. “We were working in advance of the storm to prepare for the worst, and the worst happened. But at the same time, we’ve heard tremendous stories of resilience.”

More than 180,000 Atlantic Canadian homes and businesses were still without electricity by late Tuesday afternoon – more than 122,000 of them in Nova Scotia and about 61,000 in PEI.

When asked if it was time for Ottawa to invest more in burying overhead power lines, Mr. Trudeau said: “We’re looking at ways of building more resilient infrastructure.”

“The reality is that extreme weather events are going to get more intense over the coming years because our climate is changing.”

Marvin Graham, owner of Graham’s Deep Sea Fishing in Stanley Bridge, said Mr. Trudeau asked him how much the storm would cost in terms of lost business, considering his fishing boat had been lifted out of the water and dumped on the town’s wharf.

Mr. Graham said it was too early to tell, and he told Mr. Trudeau that something had to be done about recurring storm surges battering the coastline.

“Those loose sand dunes, if they keep washing away, there’s going to be a wide-open hole there for the ocean to come right through,” Mr. Graham said. “We have to save them first.”

On Tuesday, the Canadian Space Agency posted two satellite photos of PEI, one taken on Aug. 21, the other on Sept. 25, a day after Fiona lashed the island with hurricane-force winds that exceeded 140 kilometres an hour.

The second photo shows the blue waters around the island streaked by huge underwater plumes of sand and soil extending far offshore.

The agency posted a tweet saying the photos illustrate “the extent to which the extreme wind and wave action of the storm has churned up the sea floor and eroded the coastline.”

PEI Premier Dennis King said damage to the Island’s economy is coming into focus, especially when it comes to the farming sector, which has reported huge setbacks for those who grow potatoes, soybeans, apples and feed corn.

As well, the premier said many dairy barns, fishing boats and potato storage buildings had been damaged or destroyed. And he cited extensive damage reported by mussel and oyster farms.

“We’ve been hit by something bigger than we’ve ever been hit with before,” Mr. King told a news conference. “We’re all feeling the effects of that. We’re all very fragile.”

Earlier in the day, the province announced a wage subsidy program, and Mr. King said he met with Mr. Trudeau and asked for more financial support.

In Ottawa, Defence Minister Anita Anand confirmed there are now about 300 military members assisting with recovery efforts in Atlantic Canada, with Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland each getting 100 troops. Anand said the military is mobilizing another 150 troops in Nova Scotia and 150 for Newfoundland.

HMCS Margaret Brooke, one of the navy’s new Arctic patrol vessels, was also scheduled to visit the remote community of Francois on the south coast of Newfoundland to check on residents.

“They’re helping to move people away from damaged and high-risk homes, and they’re being as helpful as possible,” Ms. Anand said.

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said 13 Indigenous communities had been affected by the storm, and that local authorities are now scrambling to ensure they have enough food and fuel. “They are focused as well on the recovery of their fishing supplies and boats, in particular, as it relates to their ongoing livelihood,” Ms. Hajdu said.

In Halifax, the region’s largest city, more than 24,000 customers were spending their fourth day without electricity. During the day, the snarl of chainsaws provides most of the background noise in the city, and at night the soundscape changes to the low drone of generators.

Nova Scotia’s electric utility issued a statement Tuesday saying it had 1,300 technicians and assessors in the field, the company’s largest mobilization in its history. That number includes crews from New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario and New England.

As well, the company said military members were assisting by removing trees and brush, delivering supplies and providing security for trucks and equipment.

King Charles issued a statement Tuesday expressing concern at the “appalling devastation” caused by Fiona and extending sympathy to Atlantic Canadians.

Uprooted trees, frayed nerves and a massive cleanup: Halifax residents get to work fixing Fiona’s mess

This article was written by Dakshana Bascaramurty and was published in the Globe & Mail on September 28, 2022.

Ian Livingstone rests on a century-old tree that was blown over in Halifax by post-tropical storm Fiona. The tree ‘was like a huge amount of property value, it provided a ton of shade and character to the street,’ he says.

While Ian Livingstone stood on his porch in Halifax’s north end, mourning the centuryold tree out front that posttropical storm Fiona had knocked over Saturday, François Tardif was loading hunks of the tree’s dismembered corpse into the back of his pickup truck.

“It’s hard wood so I know it will burn well,” said Mr. Tardif. Earlier in the day while delivering mail he’d spied this fine specimen – conveniently chainsawed the previous night by city staff into liftable logs – and returned after work to bring it home, just as he had with other discoveries of curbside timber this week. He plans to dry it and use it as firewood.

All that will be left for Mr. Livingstone is a stump.

“Losing the tree is sad,” he said. “It was like a huge amount of property value, it provided a ton of shade and character to the street.”

This tree is one of thousands in Halifax injured or toppled by the weekend’s violent winds. Electricity has returned to most homes here, but cleaning up the tree carnage will be a longer project.

More than 400 trees have already been cleared off streets by city crews since Saturday, but the job is far from over. Countless others – or what remains of them – are strewn across private property and have kept arborists and chainsaw-wielding residents busy for the last four days.

Arborist Peter Mallon used to get 10 to 15 calls a week inquiring about tree removal; on Saturday alone, he received 50.

His Mineville, N.S., company Solid Tree Care has been doing triage – treeage, if you will – since the weekend, reviewing photos that people have sent and trying to prioritize projects by urgency.

His most complex job so far was a tree that had fallen in a customer’s backyard – the back half of the roots were exposed and it was leaning at a 45-degree angle with surrounding trees holding it up.

In a complex process that mixed trigonometry and trapeze arts, Mr. Mallon secured the fallen tree to another that was still standing, then tied his harness rope to the secured tree, climbed the fallen one, then used a third tree as a pole – putting a rope around it and connecting that rope to the tip of the fallen tree.

When he cut the tip of the downed tree, it swung toward the third tree. And then he methodically dismantled the tree in small pieces, reducing its weight.

Rain and wind have persisted since the storm, which has slowed his work.

“One of the main things is visibility, because we’re looking up the whole time. You can’t see because it’s raining on your face. Or I can’t see through my safety glasses because it’s raining and foggy,” he said.

Safety isn’t always front of mind for homeowners who are impatient with trees blocking their driveways or unable to handle the sticker-shock of hiring professionals.

Shawn Gauthier, the owner of Aspen Landscape, a company that has tackled several tree removals since Saturday, said a few people who have called him and received a quote have balked at the price and shared their plan to DIY the removal. He’s cautioned them not to.

Tree removals are expensive for a reason, he says. A small half-hour job can be $500, but a more complex, multiday one can cost $5,000.

There’s the cost of running trucks, the emergency wages paid to staff working weekends and evenings, the fact that it’s dangerous work.

“You’re handling tools that the average person usually wouldn’t love to touch. There’s certainly a risk factor,” he said.

Rob MacNeish would’ve loved to call an arborist to remove the three maple trees in front of his house that had tumbled down in the storm, but he couldn’t – they were on city property so the city’s problem. They’d knocked out the power on their descent and Mr. MacNeish knew service wouldn’t be restored until the trees were gone.

He was especially ticked off because all three had been identified as “problem trees” by an arborist and Mr. MacNeish had flagged them for the city as ones to remove years earlier, predicting that strong winds would eventually take them down.

Because one of the trees knocked down the power mast attached to Mr. MacNeish’s home, rather than the main power line on the street, he was responsible for repair to the mast.

He estimates he and his neighbours will have to shell out $15,000 collectively for power permits from Nova Scotia Power, private electricians and materials in the aftermath of Saturday’s storm.

The city had finally cut down the trees on Monday morning and left the timber on the street, but that night, Mr. MacNeish was still without electricity and slowly losing his mind after hearing his toddler play the same five downloaded Cocomelon episodes over and over again. And so when he heard the rumble of a chainsaw pierce the air at 9:30 p.m., he ran out his front door, a mix of exhausted and enraged, looking for a fight.

He saw a scavenger who’d filled his truck with the chunks of timber that fit and was now trying to cut down a few more pieces.

“I said, ‘ No man, we’re done. We’re tired. You can come back tomorrow. This isn’t going anywhere,’ ” he said. “It’s been a hullabaloo. It’s been stressful. I’m kind of frayed at this point.”

The next afternoon, the only tree debris left on Mr. MacNeish’s curb were clumps of thin, leafy branches. They were clustered at the foot of a splintered tree trunk whose screwed-in municipal “no parking” sign had somehow withstood the storm.

You’re handling tools that the average person usually wouldn’t love to touch. There’s certainly a risk factor. SHAWN GAUTHIER OWNER OF ASPEN LANDSCAPE