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Canada's UNESCO natural wonders – CBC.ca

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A wild horse grazes at Dungeon Provincial Park in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Bonavista Peninsula, part of Discovery Geopark, which has just been named a UNESCO Global Geopark. (EB Adventure Photography/Shutterstock)

Nova Scotia’s Cliffs of Fundy and the Discovery Global Geopark in Newfoundland and Labrador received official status Friday as UNESCO Geoparks — a designation that recognizes sites and landscapes of international geological significance. They join three other Canadian UNESCO Geoparks and a collection of other UNESCO-designated Canadian sites. Here’s a look at some of Canada’s impressive natural wonders recognized by the UN agency. 

Cliffs of Fundy, N.S.

The Cliffs of Fundy Global Geopark in Nova Scotia stretches along a roughly 165-kilometre drive, with about 40 designated sites from Debert to the Three Sisters cliffs, past Eatonville, out to Isle Haute. The area is the only place on Earth where geologists can see both the assembly of supercontinent Pangea 300 million years ago and its breakup 100 million years later.

(Kayla Hounsell/CBC)

Discovery Global Geopark, N.L.

The Discovery Global Geopark in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Bonavista Peninsula, a rugged coastline that overlooks views of caves, arches and sea stacks.

(Shutterstock)

Stonehammer Geopark, N.B.

Stonehammer Geopark covers 2,500 square kilometres across southern New Brunswick, stretching from Lepreau Falls to Norton, Saint John and Grand Bay-Westfield to St. Martins. It became Canada’s first UNESCO Geopark in 2010. This couple walks on the ocean floor at low tide to view caves carved into the red sandstone by the Bay of Fundy.

(Kevin Bissett/The Canadian Press)

Tumbler Ridge Geopark, B.C.

The Tumbler Ridge Geopark includes part of the eastern Hart Ranges of the northern Rocky Mountains in British Columbia. The area is notable for fossils, including the northernmost prints of brontosaurus, the most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in the province and, below, ankylosaurus footprints preserved in rock.

(Pecold/Shuttestock)

Percé, Que.

The most noticeable landmark at Percé Geopark is the Percé Rock, a massive limestone stack 433 metres long, 90 metres wide and 88 metres at its highest point, rising from the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec near the village of Percé.

(Marika Wheeler/CBC)

Nahanni National Park, N.W.T.

Canada’s first entry on the UNESCO list, in 1978, this preserve protects a portion of the Mackenzie Mountains Natural Region, including massive canyons, sulphur hot springs, alpine tundra and the spectacular rapids of the South Nahanni River.

(GeGiGoggle/Shutterstock)

Pimachiowin Aki 

An expanse of boreal shield became Canada’s first mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Site in 2018. Pimachiowin Aki is nearly 30,000 square kilometres of boreal land straddling the Ontario-Manitoba border, where Anishinaabe peoples have lived for thousands of years.

(Matt Medler/International Boreal Conservation Campaign/The Associated Press)

Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alta.

A World Heritage Site 75 million years in the making, this spot in the heart of Alberta’s badlands has been a destination for paleontologists since dinosaur fossils were first discovered here in 1884. UNESCO also recognized the provincial park’s “particularly beautiful scenery” when adding it to the World Heritage list in 1979.

(Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock)

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Alta.

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, also known by its Blackfoot name Áísínai’pi, became Alberta’s sixth World Heritage Site in 2019. According to the provincial government, the park is home to the most significant concentration of rock carvings and paintings on the North American prairies, some of which date back 2,000 years. 

(Paul Karchut/CBC)

Joggins Fossil Cliffs, N.S. 

Nova Scotia’s Joggins Fossil Cliffs, regarded as the best record of life in the Coal Age 300 million years ago, was added to the exclusive ranks of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2008. The fossil cliffs are home to enormous fossilized trees and what’s believed to be the remains of the world’s oldest reptile. 

(Joggins Fossil Institute)

Kluane/Wrangell-St.Elias/Glacier Bay/Tatshenshini-Alsek

The first binational entry on UNESCO’s list, named in 1979, the agency describes this 97,000-square-kilometre site as “an impressive complex of glaciers and high peaks on both sides of the border between Canada (Yukon Territory and British Columbia) and the United States (Alaska). It  includes the 5,959-metre-high Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak.

This massive reserve is home to some of the world’s fastest-moving glaciers and the largest non-polar icefield on the planet.

(Chuck Stoody/The Canadian Press)

Mistaken Point, N.L. 

Mistaken Point, on the southeastern point of the Avalon Peninsula, is home to the oldest-known evidence of Earth’s first large, complex, multicellular life forms — a 565-million-year-old sea floor that holds a collection of fossils known as the Ediacaran biota.

Mistaken Point became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016. 

(UNESCO)

Wood Buffalo National Park

Wood Buffalo, which straddles the Alberta-Northwest Territories border, is one of the world’s largest freshwater deltas and a breeding ground for millions of migratory birds from four continental flyways.

But it has been deteriorating for decades. In 2014, the Mikisew Cree asked UNESCO to examine the park and see if it still merited designation as a World Heritage Site.

UNESCO is considering the park’s status, while Parks Canada considers a $27.5-million plan to rescue it.

(Lennard Plantz/CBC)

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Tesla seeks entry into U.S. renewable fuel credit market

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Tesla Inc is seeking to enter the multi-billion dollar U.S. renewable credit market, hoping to profit from the Biden administration’s march toward new zero-emission goals, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The electric car maker is one of at least eight companies with a pending application at the Environmental Protection Agency tied to power generation and renewable credits, the sources said. The EPA produces a list of pending applications with some details, but not companies’ names.

Tesla’s entry could potentially reshape the renewable credit market, established in the mid-2000s to boost investment in the U.S. biofuel industry. The market generated some 18 billion credits in 2020 and is currently dominated by ethanol producers. Tesla’s application would likely be tied to the production of electricity associated with biogas.

The Biden administration is expected to review the EPA applications and lay out how electric vehicles could qualify for tradable credits under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) this summer, the two sources said.

The move could represent the largest expansion of the RFS program that was created by President George W. Bush and aimed at boosting rural America and weaning the country off oil imports.

The entry of Tesla and other electric vehicle makers to the renewable energy scheme could attract investment for a much-needed infrastructure network, including charging stations, for electric vehicles.

However, it is likely to anger some in the U.S. refining industry who would need to buy the credits, known as RINs, generated by Tesla and other alternative fuel providers, essentially subsidizing an electric car company that seeks to put petrochemical refiners out of business.

Rural farmers could view Tesla’s entry as the Biden White House prioritizing electric vehicles over biofuels as an answer to the climate crisis.

BIOGAS LOGISTICS

In 2016, just before the Obama administration exited office, the EPA published a proposal seeking comment on how best to structure credits for renewable electricity that is used as a transportation fuel.

The proposal largely sat dormant during the Trump administration, which spent most of its time on fuel credits trying to find common ground among rivals in the corn and oil industries.

Electricity from biogas – mainly pulled from the nation’s landfills – is already eligible for generating credits under the RFS program, but the EPA has never approved applications to do so because the agency hasn’t yet figured out the logistical issues.

Key questions include how to trace the credit-eligible biogas from its origin through to a car’s battery, and who along that supply chain should be allowed to claim the lucrative credits.

Under the RFS, refiners must blend biofuels like corn-based ethanol into their fuel pool or purchase compliance credits in a credit market, where prices have swung wildly in recent years.

The program has helped drive investment in ethanol plants in states like Iowa and Nebraska, but liquid fuels have been under attack from the Biden administration.

Tesla would generate the most lucrative type of credits, known as D3s, which trade at a significant premium to the larger pool of traditional ethanol credits.

As well as building electric cars, Tesla is also investing in charging stations and large-scale batteries.

 

(Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw and Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Heather Timmons and Richard Pullin)

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Fed privately presses big banks on risks from climate change

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The U.S. Federal Reserve has asked lenders to start providing information on the measures they are taking to mitigate climate change-related risks to their balance sheets, according to four people with knowledge of the matter.

The previously unreported supervisory discussions highlight how U.S. watchdogs are moving to execute President Joe Biden’s agenda to incorporate climate risk into the financial regulatory system, with potentially major ramifications for Wall Street.

While European regulators are this year rolling-out climate-change “stress tests” for lenders, the Fed lags its peers.

Fed officials have previously said they are considering a new scenario analysis to help them understand how climate change may affect trillions of dollars’ worth of bank assets, but have not said how or when they would start to apply such tests.

In private discussions, however, Fed supervisors have begun pressing large lenders to detail the measures they are taking to understand how their loan books would perform under certain climate change scenarios, the four people said.

Fed officials have not dictated the parameters for the analysis but have made it clear they expect lenders to conduct the internal risk-management exercises and hand over the data, the people said.

That analysis includes testing the geographical exposure of bank assets to physical risks such as flooding, drought and wildfires, as well as testing exposures to different sectors, such as how oil and gas loans may perform versus renewable energy loans.

The aim of the tests is to identify risks, but the Fed has not indicated that the data it is gathering would translate into any additional capital charges or other regulatory actions.

“They’re being very pragmatic. They’re doing their homework,” said one of the people.

Global banks — including JPMorgan, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley — have been exploring the implications of climate change for some time, both internally and in some cases with European regulators like the Bank of England who are more aggressively integrating climate change risks into the regulatory framework.

Nevertheless, the new climate scrutiny from the U.S. central bank adds to the pressure on Wall Street lenders, forcing them to make investments in technology, data management and staff.

“The data work is a big deal,” said another of the sources.

The banks did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the private discussions with the Fed.

STRESS TESTS

Climate change could upend the financial system because physical threats such as rising sea levels, as well as policies and carbon-neutral technologies aimed at slowing global warming, could destroy trillions of dollars of assets, risk experts say.

In a 2020 report, a Commodity Futures Trading Commission panel cited data estimating that $1 trillion to $4 trillion of global wealth tied to fossil fuel assets could be lost.

The Fed in January appointed Kevin Stiroh, one of its top supervisors, to lead a new team focusing on climate-related financial risks, but some congressional Democrats are pushing the central bank to move much faster and add climate risks to bank stress tests which dictate Wall Street’s capital plans.

In March, Fed governor Lael Brainard said that climate scenario tests could be helpful but that they would also rely on qualitative judgments and be highly uncertain.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell has said the agency will tread carefully and focus on incorporating climate change into existing regulatory obligations, as opposed to creating strict new rules. It is unclear, though, if he will be renominated to lead the Fed after his term expires next year, while his vice chair Randal Quarles, a Republican appointee who oversees bank regulation, is expected to leave this year.

Progressive groups say there is much more the central bank could do to address climate risks, even if it does not want to go as far as its European counterparts.

Tim Clark, a former senior Fed official who helped build its stress tests after the 2008 financial crisis, said it should publicly communicate that it expects banks to incorporate climate change into their risk management processes.

“That’s something they can basically start right now and make it clear to the industry that they expect banks to be working hard on this.”

 

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Michelle Price and Lisa Shumaker)

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Cuban tanker en route to Venezuela reports missing sailor at sea

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A crew member aboard a Cuba-flagged oil tanker on its way from a Mexican shipyard to Venezuela was reported missing this week, according to a shipping report seen by Reuters, marking the second incident aboard the same vessel in about a year.

Sailor Rafael Desiderio Martinez Alonso was not found last Sunday by the doctor onboard oil tanker Petion, which set sail on May 6 from Mexico’s port of Veracruz bound for the Cardon terminal in Venezuela’s western coast.

The report by the tanker’s shipping agency to Venezuelan port authorities about the incident said Martinez Alonso, who was one the tanker’s fitters, is believed to have fallen into open waters because his shoes were found near the ship’s gas plant. He has not officially been reported dead.

The tanker’s general alarm was activated the same day to start search and rescue operations, but after 24 hours the sailor was not found, said the report, which is dated May 11.

The report did not identify Martinez Alonso’s nationality. Cuba-flagged vessels frequently use all-Cuban crews.

Venezuela’s oil ministry and Cuba’s foreign ministry did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

The Petion made a stop on Monday for about 18 hours near the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, changing its status from “underway using engine” to “not under command.”

It continued its voyage to Venezuela on Tuesday, according to Refinitiv Eikon tanker monitoring data.

The same ship last year reported the death of a Cuban sailor while anchored near Venezuela’s Amuay port, after the helmsman fell overboard, according to people familiar with the accident.

Both the Petion and its managing firm, Cyprus-registered Caroil Transport Marine Ltd, were hit with U.S. sanctions in 2019 for transporting Venezuelan oil to Cuba. The vessel was serviced in Mexico between March and May.

Caroil could not be reached for comment.

A separate tanker, the Cameroon-flagged Domani, arrived in Venezuelan waters in March with a dead crew member onboard, according to two sources with knowledge of the incident. The death was reported as a suicide before Venezuelan authorities.

 

(Reporting by Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Venezuela, and Marianna Parraga in Mexico City. Additional reporting by Sarah Marsh in Havana; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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