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B.C. Climate News Nov. 29-Dec.5: Indigenous leaders worried about old-growth logging | Could be weeks before flood waters fully recede from Sumas Prairie | A few idealistic Canadians are trying to replant the world’s forests with flying machines

Here’s your weekly update with everything you need to know about climate change

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Here’s your weekly update with everything you need to know about climate change and what B.C. is doing to address the climate and ecological crises for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec.5, 2021.

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This week the dominant climate news continued to be the fallout from several rainstorms that hit southern B.C. causing catastrophic flooding and deadly landslides.

The first atmospheric river caused at least six deaths , forced thousands of British Columbians to flee their homes, and stranded 275 people between two landslides.

The  UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  has warned for years 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 climate change.

Check back here every Saturday for a roundup of the latest climate and environmental stories. You can also get up to date B.C.-focussed news delivered to your inbox by 7 a.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.

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A glance at B.C.’s carbon numbers:

  • B.C.’s gross greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2019 (latest available data:) 8.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e.) This is an increase of 3.0 MtCO2e since 2007, the baseline year.
  • B.C.’s net emissions in 2019: 67.2 MtCO2e, an increase of 1.5 MtCO2e 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.

(source: B.C. and Canada governments)

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LATEST CLIMATE CHANGE NEWS

Canada begins consultations on new climate commitments this month

Canada’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault announced Friday that the federal government will conduct a series of consultations on new emissions reductions measures before the end of the year.

Guilbeault said he will table the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan by the end of March to allow time to engage with provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples, the Net-Zero Advisory Body, and interested Canadians on what is needed to reach Canada’s climate objectives.

He said consultations will also be done before the end of this year on the sale of zero-emission vehicles so that 100 percent of new light-duty vehicles (cars, pickups, etc.) sold in Canada are zero emission by 2035 and at least 50 percent by 2030.

Could be weeks before flood waters fully recede from Sumas Prairie

Abbotsford mayor Henry Braun says it could be several weeks before the nine-square-kilometre section that is the lowest point of the flooded Sumas Prairie will be clear of water.

And only then can the true extent of damage to soil and infrastructure in the prairie be fully assessed.

Braun said Highway 1 also needed to be open, as well as Whatcom Road and Vye Road, in order for work to begin assessing damage and facilitating a full return to home for the thousands of residents displaced from more than 1,000 homes since mid-November’s monster storm and more recent atmospheric river rains.

On Wednesday, Braun said he hoped to lift some evacuation orders in the next few days. He said it was not expected to rain heavily over the next few days — after a record two feet (0.6 metres) of rain drowned his city over the past few weeks, leading to widespread flooding and destruction.

Braun said flood waters were subsiding, adding the Sumas Prairie water level fell 2.5 cm on Tuesday despite some rain.

—David Carrigg

A few idealistic Canadians are trying to replant the world’s forests with flying machines

Bryce Jones has seen it all trying to fly his drones: equipment hiccups, execution snafus, the time he miscalculated the takeoff angle and flew a vehicle right into a tree.

Jones isn’t a hobbyist messing with backflips at the local park — he’s head of Flash Forest, a young startup with the unusual idea of deploying drones to bombard the landscape with tree seed pods.

A billion trees, to be exact.

While many think of drones as a toy or, worse, a lethally precise military tool, Flash Forest has gone the other way: It’s using drones to nourish life.

The 20-person Toronto startup — it has an office in Vancouver — is using a fleet of unmanned vehicles to plant (more accurately, carpet-bomb) the landscape with tree seed pods and replenish those majestic carbon-guzzlers. The battle against climate change can be waged with sober policy-making, an engaged citizenry and corporate responsibility. It also, it turns out, can be fought by a few hipster Millennials with flying machines.

Read more HERE.

—Washington Post

Indigenous leaders concerned over B.C. government’s old-growth deferral process

Indigenous leaders and experts in B.C. outlined their concerns Wednesday over the provincial government’s process to defer logging in old-growth forests, while underscoring the urgency to preserve at-risk ecosystems.

The province announced Nov. 2 that an independent panel of scientific experts had mapped 26,000 square kilometres of old-growth forests at risk of permanent biodiversity loss. It asked First Nations to decide within 30 days whether they support logging deferrals in those areas or if the plan required further discussion.

Retired judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond told a news conference hosted by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs that the government’s actions aren’t consistent with free, prior and informed consent, a key principle of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. B.C. adopted the declaration through legislation passed in 2019.

The 30-day timeline is too short for many First Nations to make informed decisions, and the process lacks clarity on economic impacts and potential compensation for Nations that elect to set old-growth forests aside from logging, Turpel-Lafond said.

Read more HERE.

—The Canadian Press

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