35 billion tonnes of carbon

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BECOME A NARWHAL Now to our big story of the week: elders of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation refer to the peatlands of Northern Ontario as the “breathing lands.”

The region’s ecological powers are no secret to the dozens of First Nations who call these lands their home. Beyond serving as a source of food and a critical habitat for wildlife, the peatlands also store an estimated 35 billion tonnes of carbon — or what would be the annual emissions from seven billion cars.

Now climate change is threatening those carbon storage capabilities, thanks to longer droughts and thawing permafrost. Oh, and did we mention massive plans for mining development?
We don’t just need to talk about the potential consequences in the abstract: disturbance to Alberta’s peatlands as a result of oil and gas exploration led to a huge spike in methane emissions, which have 25 times the global warming potential as carbon dioxide.

What happens next in Ontario’s Far North region known as the Ring of Fire could have lasting consequences for our planet — along with the livelihoods and rights of the area’s First Nations, many of which have conflicting views on development.

A “divide and conquer” approach first pushed by Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals is being taken a step further under the premiership of Doug Ford, whose government is handing out mining exploration permits over the objections of First Nations who say meaningful consultation isn’t taking place.

The province is also seeking to repeal controversial legislation in order to expedite Ring of Fire development — even as The Globe and Mail concludes the hype of $60-billion-worth in potential mining deposits is “mostly aspirational hogwash.”

So what comes next? The federal government has committed to conducting its own assessment — a process that could give First Nations a greater say. But delays sparked by the pandemic are raising concerns that Ontario will use the opportunity to push through its own development agenda. Read on for all the details.

Take care and keep your governments in check,

Arik Ligeti
Audience Engagement Editor
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This week in The Narwhal

The battle for the ‘breathing lands’: Ontario’s Ring of Fire and the fate of its carbon-rich peatlands

By James Wilt

Northern Ontario's muskeg serves as home to dozens of First Nations, stores immense amounts of carbon and sits on top of vast mineral deposits. Whose vision for the bogs and fens will win out? Read more.

Canada is failing to track the true climate cost of clearcut logging in boreal: report

By Matt Simmons

Organizations calls on the Canadian government to properly record and regulate greenhouse gas emissions connected to forestry and align its forest management policies with climate targets. Read more.

Who owns Northern Pulp? The B.C. company embroiled in Nova Scotia’s Boat Harbour controversy

By Stephanie Wood

Northern Pulp, the mill that turned an estuary into a series of polluted ponds, closed after decades of complaints by Pictou Landing First Nation. The company was recently granted creditor protection in B.C., owing about $300 million, but it still plans to reopen
. Read more.

Renewable energy projects in Canada’s remote communities have doubled in past five years

By Julien Gignac

A Pembina Institute report finds new systems, as well as energy efficiency programs, helped reduce the use of diesel for heating and electricity generation by 12 million litres per year, but total diesel consumption is still increasing due to population growth. Read more.

9 things you need to know about the proposed open-pit coal mine near Smithers, B.C.

By Matt Simmons

Australian company Telkwa Coal wants to build the mine in a caribou recovery area and just a few kilometres from an important salmon watershed in Wet’suwet’en territory. Read more.


The Narwhal in the world


Remember Sarah Cox’s feature from April that detailed how B.C. paid $2 million to kill 463 wolves in endangered caribou habitat? Well it’s in the news again: researchers have released findings arguing that wolf culls don’t protect caribou, refuting earlier research that helped bolster the province’s case for carrying out the controversial practice.

The Atlantic has all the details, and they make a point of linking out to Sarah’s story right in the first sentence of their piece.

What we’re reading

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