It may have been the hottest year on record weather-wise, but 2014 will also go down as a year in which hope for a greener future took to the streets
BY ADRIA VASIL DECEMBER 22, 2014 9:42 AM
1. Canada remains best at being the worst
Sadly, the federal government generally sucked as hard as it can possibly suck on all environmental fronts. In 2014 we learned Canada is the world’s worst when it comes to fragmenting pristine natural forests. Canada was also deemed a bottom scraper when it comes to protecting marine areas from development, finishing behind China. The only area where we slipped to second-worst among industrialized countries was climate action. Australia now has that dishonour after its new conservative government spent the year reversing climate change policies. Still, we seem destined to reclaim that dubious mantle: it looks like we’ll miss our 2020 climate targets by a good 20 per cent.
2. Bee-killers get stung
The year started out with grim news from Canadian apiarists: nearly 60 per cent of Ontario bees died over the winter. But Ontario stepped up last month, becoming the first jurisdiction in North America to commit to regulating neonicotinoid pesticides, fingered as one of the biggest culprits in the collapse of bee populations. Health Canada also agreed that neonic use is “unsustainable,” but went on to approve a handful of new neonic and neonic-related pesticides anyway. Meanwhile, fed-up Canadian beekeepers filed a $450 million class action suit in September against pesticide makers Bayer Inc. and Syngenta International AG to help recoup their losses. The suit claims the companies have been negligent in their duty to inform farmers of the potential harms of the pesticides.
3. Divestment tide rising
Desmond Tutu, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and World Bank head Jim Yong Kim all threw their support behind fossil fuel divestment in 2014. Also this year, Stanford University announced it would dump all coal investments. Glasgow University became the first European school to ditch such investments. Then, just last month, Montreal’s Concordia U said it would give divestment a try, starting with a $5 million fund for ethical investments. The biggest boost, though, came this fall when more than 800 big-bucks investors, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the World Council of Churches, announced they would be pulling a jaw-dropping $50 billion out of fossil fuel investments over the next five years.