Globe Climate: At the heart of the fight to save one of the last wild rivers in Europe

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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter on climate change, the environment and resources in Canada.

Across the country there is still…a lot of snow. And with the snow comes a boring chore shared by the neighbors: shoveling. Instead of being irritated, a Canadian finds comfort in the usual task. In fact, in this recent first-person submission, they even find it meditative.

“When I shovel, I forget my anxieties, what I desperately want out of life, the people I miss from my past, the grief, the worry, the triumphs, the depressions,” writes Mormei Zank. “For 15 minutes of my day, I’m just one person, cleaning his driveway because it’s winter in Canada.”

I hope you can find the same peace in the face of snow this week.

Now we’ll catch up with you on other news.


Noteworthy report this week:

  1. Olympic Games: How an environmental ban on toxic ski waxes sparked an Olympic arms race for snow sports
  2. ESG: Why renewable energy stocks are collapsing again, despite climate change fears
  3. Carbon Capture: Urgent need for carbon capture tax credit and clean fuel standards, says Shell Canada
  4. Oil and Gas: PBO’s report on orphan oil wells omits some costs; Quebec Indigenous Groups Join Questerre Energy to Promote Natural Gas Development
  5. From the Narwhal: Canada’s largest emitters pay the lowest carbon price

A deeper dive

The future of the Vjosa as a wild river remains uncertain

The Vjosa is one of the last wild natural rivers in Europe. But this claim is threatened by 27 hydroelectric power stations that are proposed to be built along the Vjosa and its tributaries.

A total of 400 new hydropower plants are planned in Albania, and for the Vjosa this could change the ecosystem and life along the river forever.

Not only would this further affect people who make a living, such as those who live in small farming villages overlooking the valley, but also researchers who say they can look back in time and draw conclusions about how rivers were in Western Europe.

Giorgio (75), a pensioner from Kaludh, a remote village near the Greek border, goes fishing every evening. Like many in Kaludh, he lives independently growing vegetables and fishing in the river. Scientists fear that the construction of dams along the river and its tributaries will affect the fish population.JONAS KAKO/The Globe and Mail

“Spending a few days with the young shepherds of Kute was an amazing experience.”

Jonas Kako traveled to Albania to photograph the river and had the chance to meet the people who live there. He has written about his experience for The Globe and the issues surrounding the protection of the Vjosa River.

“Although we only spoke via Google Translate, they were very welcoming, inviting me to a barbecue in their shepherd’s hut, with chicken and raki from the vegetable garden. We went swimming in the Vjosa and milking the sheep at night listening to Kendrick Lamar’s latest song,” he said.

A tributary of the Vjosa shows how hydropower plants can affect an ecosystem. The Lengarica was a unique spawning ground for many species of fish, and despite protests against government corruption and mismanagement, the plant was completed without a task force appointed by the Ministry of Environment.

Another dam project, near Kalivac, was first halted due to accusations of fraud and money laundering, then again for lack of a sufficient environmental impact study. It is now abandoned and the river still flows in its natural bed.

A stalled dam project near Kalivaç. Started in 2007, the construction was interrupted for several years, due to accusations of fraud and money laundering against the contractor. In 2017, the Albanian government reissued a contract and the project was reopened. Due to the lack of a sufficient environmental impact study, the construction of the dam was again stopped by an Albanian court in 2021. Today, the construction site is abandoned and is not finished until 30%.JONAS KAKO/The Globe and Mail

The Vjosa River after sunset near Peshtan, a small mountain village popular for hiking.JONAS KAKO/The Globe and Mail

“When I first heard that the Vjosa was the last wild river in Europe, I was amazed,” Mr Kako said.

As more construction industry projects around the river surface, international protests have begun. There are talks of building an airport nearby and Shell Oil has started surveying the valley for oil reserves.

“I couldn’t believe that all the other rivers in Europe were altered. As a photojournalist, I hope my photos will do a little to save the river and its precious ecosystem.


What else did you miss


Opinion and analysis

Jeffrey Jones: Carbon capture could facilitate Canada’s energy transition. So why restrict it?

Alex Bozikovic: Will garden suites solve Toronto’s housing crisis?

Andrew Clark: Hypermilers aren’t the worst offenders on the roads, but they’re not saints either


Green investment

Invesco’s new leader aims to boost a waning ETF pioneer with a focus on ESG funds

Invesco Canada Ltd.’s new head of ETFs, Pat Chiefalo, spent his first year in the job trying to find a way to keep investors out. Today, Invesco manages around $4.2 billion in ETF assets here. Another interesting number, ESG funds currently represent 2.8% of the total of $323 billion in ETFs in Canada.

ESG will continue to be a “primary focus of Canadian ETF activity” going forward, he added. Last week, Invesco increased its number of ESG funds to 13, launching eight more ESG index funds listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. As investors and their financial advisors begin to ask asset managers how to incorporate ESG into their portfolios, Chiefalo knew this was an area he needed to expand on and educate investors.


make waves

Each week, The Globe will profile a Canadian who is making a difference. This week, we highlight the work of Susan Uthayakumar helps organizations achieve their sustainability goals

Susan Uthayakumar is director of energy and sustainability at Prologis, a global leader in logistics real estate headquartered in San Francisco, which owns or invests in properties totaling 92 million square meters in 19 countries. Having just taken up her role in January, Ms. Uthayakumar says her goal is to create an operating environment within the company that enables her clients to achieve their sustainability goals.

Born in Sri Lanka, Ms. Uthayakumar moved to Canada with her family when she was a child. After earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in finance from the University of Waterloo, she worked at companies such as Deloitte, McCain Foods and Schneider Electric. As President of Schneider Electric’s Sustainable Development Division, she played a key role in transforming the company from a product manufacturer to a specialist in energy management and efficient technologies.

She acknowledges that there is a lack of female leadership in the area of ​​sustainability and says organizations need to “really think” about how they can support women if change is to happen.

This is an excerpt from a Globe article: Is a future wife greener? Read the full story here.

Do you know a committed person? Someone who represents the real drivers of change in the country? Email us at GlobeClimate@globeandmail.com to tell us about it.


Picture of the week

To raise awareness of climate change, two Australian sisters created a colorful, albeit woolen, coral reef that is now the subject of a museum-wide retrospective at Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden, Germany , Jan. 28, 2022. Some 20,000 people from 50 cities participated in creating the crochet landscape to highlight the plight of the world’s coral reefs.Television REUTERS/Reuters


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Mary I. Bruner