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Environmental activists frustrated COP24 deal not strong enough

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Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna and environmental activists are emphasizing that more action is needed to combat climate change despite Saturday’s deal reached by countries at a UN climate summit.

In addition, some green groups and certain countries expressed frustration that more ambitious climate goals were not achieved during intense negotiations that ran into the weekend.  

Nearly 200 nations at COP24 agreed upon universal, transparent rules that will govern efforts to cut emissions and curb global warming and enable countries to put into action the commitments they made in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

“The majority of the rulebook for the Paris agreement has been created, which is something to be thankful for,” said Mohamed Adow, a climate policy expert at Christian Aid. “But the fact countries had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the finish line shows that some nations have not woken up” to the dire consequences of global warming as outlined in a report by the UN Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.

McKenna, who was in the Polish city of Katowice for COP24 along with other Canadian negotiators, said in a statement on Saturday that, while she is pleased with the outcome, “more work remains over the next year.”

That’s because despite agreements, negotiators delayed decisions on two key issues until next year.

They include a decision on the mechanics of an emissions trading system, and the issue of setting more ambitious targets in light of recent science showing a worsening trend in climate change. 

Fierce disagreements on those two issues were kicked down the road to help avoid an impasse on these issues, but according to some, it was a missed opportunity to send a signal to businesses to speed up their actions.

The talks in Poland took place against a backdrop of growing concern among scientists and citizens that global warming is proceeding faster than governments are responding to it. (Luca Bruno/Associated Press)

“Ambition will be at the centre of the climate summit I am convening in September,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted. “It’s time to show strengthened ambition to defeat climate change.”

McKenna also said the deal made is contingent on efforts from those in the private sector, from all levels of government and from individuals.

“Climate change is a complicated problem,” McKenna told The New York Times. “It’s not going to be solved by national governments alone.”

Climate Action Network Canada welcomed the agreement and applauded the efforts of McKenna and other Canadian negotiators, but emphasized the importance of countries following through with their promises.

“What matters most is what everyone does when they leave Katowice and go home,” Catherine Abreu, the group’s executive director, said in a statement on Saturday.

Abreu was critical over the lack of specifics on how to curb greenhouse gas emissions, saying there were “precious few specifics on how individual governments plan to respond to the devastating climate chaos of 2018 and deliver the climate action that science demands.”

Poorer nations vulnerable to climate change also wanted more clarity on how an already agreed $100 billion a year of climate finance by 2020 will be provided, and on efforts to build on that amount further from the end of the decade.

Greenpeace urges halt to Canadian pipelines

McKenna in her statement touted Canada’s “leading role” in the carbon market and in securing investments to tackle global climate change, but some critics dispute Canada’s role as major climate player on the international stage due to its domestic policies. 

Daniel Mittler, political director of Greenpeace International, said Canada is “not credible” as a world leader in climate change while committing to building pipelines instead of shifting to renewable energy.

“[Climate] leaders simply don’t buy and build pipelines, climate leaders go for a just transition as the science suggests we need it,” Mittler told CBC from Berlin on Sunday. 

“[The Canadian] government is making the right steps in some ways — for example, getting rid of coal — but they’re simply not credible as long as they own and build pipelines and expand fossil fuels when the science has been very clear.”

Watch: Canadian government ‘not credible,’ says Greenpeace

Daniel Mittler, political director of Greenpeace International, says the Canadian government is ‘not credible as long as they own and build pipelines and expand fossil fuels.’ 1:45

Mittler also criticized the COP24 deal for not doing enough.

“We should have had so much more… we’ve had a really terrible year of extreme weather events, of forest fires and of scientists telling the world that we are running out of time,” he said. “In the face of that, this agreement is morally bankrupt, it is just not enough.”

However, he said the goal now is for governments to return home and show they mean business by putting the deal into action.

“Governments have in Poland, indeed, achieved a global rule book,” he added.

“But without action, even the best rules will not get us anywhere and our children will face a very, very unfortunate climate [and] chaotic future.”

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The ‘Maple Majestic’ wants to be Canada’s homegrown Tesla

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Look out Tesla, Canada has a homegrown electric sedan on the way. Well, that’s if AK International Motor Corporation can drum up enough investment to make its EV a reality. Dubbed the “Maple Majestic,” the vehicle is a battery-electric designed to “excel in extreme climate performance without adversely affecting the climate, as befits a vehicle from Canada,” according to its website.

What’s in a name? — The company says the maple leaf is a “symbol of Canada’s warmth and friendliness towards all cultures,” while “majestic” refers to the country’s “status as a Constitutional Monarchy.”

That patriotism carries over into Maple Majestic’s parent company’s lofty goals. AK Motor founder Arkadiusz Kaminski says he wants the company, which he founded in 2012, to become “Canada’s first multi-brand automotive OEM,” and that the “Maple Majestic is intended to be Canada’s flagship brand of automobiles on the world stage.”

Partnerships are key — “We acknowledge that the best chance for the Maple Majestic brand to succeed, lies in continuing to build the relationship with Canada’s parts suppliers and technological innovators, whether they be academic institutions, corporations, or individual inventors,” the company explains. “We are currently seeking partners in automotive engineering, parts manufacturing, automotive assembly, electric propulsion technology, battery technology, autonomous technology, and hybrid power generation technology.”

In other words, don’t expect to be able to buy a Maple Majestic any time soon… and don’t expect to pour over 0-60 mph times, power output, range, or other key stats, because those don’t currently exist. For now, all we have are pictures and a short video clip. But at least those are arresting.

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PE-backed Quorum Software to merge with Canadian energy tech firm

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Houston-based energy technology company Quorum Software will merge with a Canadian tech firm to bolster its presence in oil and gas services.

Quorum announced Feb. 15 it plans to merge with Calgary, Alberta-based Aucerna, a global provider of planning, execution and reserves software for the energy sector. The combined firm will operate under the Quorum Software brand.

Gene Austin, CEO of Quorum Software, will continue in his capacity as chief executive of the combined firm. Austin, former CEO of Austin-based marketing tech firm Bazaarvoice Inc., became CEO of Quorum in December 2018.

Aucerna co-founder and CEO Wayne Sim will be appointed to the Quorum Software board of directors. Both companies are backed by San Francisco- and Chicago-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

“Over the last 20 years, Quorum has become the leading innovator of software deployed by North American energy companies,” said Austin. “Today, Quorum is expanding the scope of our technology and expertise to all energy-producing regions of the globe. Customers everywhere will have access to a cloud technology ecosystem that connects decision-ready data from operations to the boardroom.”

In addition to the merger announcement, Quorum Software announced it had entered into an agreement with Finnish IT firm TietoEvry to purchase TietoEvry’s entire oil and gas business. The agreement, which includes hydrocarbon management, personnel and material logistics software and related services, is valued at 155 million euros, or $188 million, according to a statement from TietoEvry.

“Our three organizations complement each other — from the software that our great people design to the energy markets where we operate,” said Sim. “Our new company will be able to deliver value to our stakeholders, while accelerating the growth of our combined business and the energy industry’s software transformation.”

The combined company will serve over 1,800 energy companies in 55 countries, according to the announcement. With its headquarters in Houston, Quorum will continue to have a significant presence in Calgary and in Norway, the headquarters for TietoEvry’s oil and gas software business. Quorum will have other offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

As of Sept. 30, 2020, private equity firm Thoma Bravo had more than $73 billion in assets under management. In late December 2020, Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire Richardson, Texas-based tech firm RealPage in a roughly $10 billion acquisition.

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Piece of Kitchener technology lands on Mars on Perseverance rover

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KITCHENER — A piece of Kitchener technology has landed on Mars, thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover.

The rover settled on the planet’s surface on Thursday afternoon. It’s been travelling through space since it was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in July.

“The whole idea of being on a device that we’re sending to another plant with the express mission of looking for traces of past life, it’s pretty mind boggling actually,” said Rafal Pawluczyk, chief technical officer for FiberTech Optica.

The Kitchener-based company made fibre optic cables for the rover’s SuperCam that will examine samples with a camera, laser and spectrometers.

“The cables that we built take the light from that multiplexer and deliver it to each spectrograph,” Pawluczyk said.

The cables connect a device on the rover to the SuperCam, which will be used to examine rock and soil samples, to spectrometers. They’ll relay information from one device to another.

The project started four years ago with a connection to Los Alamos National Lab, where the instruments connected to the cables were developed.

“We could actually demonstrate we can design something that will meet their really hard engineering requirements,” Pawluczyk said.

The Jezero Crater is where the Perseverance rover, with FiberTech Optica’s technology onboard, landed Thursday. Scientists believe it was once flooded with water and is the best bet for finding any evidence of life. FiberTech’s cables will help that in that search.

Ioannis Haranas, an astrophysicist and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the rover isn’t looking for “green men.”

“They’re looking for microbial, single-cell life, any type of fossils and stuff like that,” Haranas said. “That’s why they chose a special landing site. This could be very fertile land for that.”

“It’s very ambitious,” said Ralf Gellert, a physics professor at the University of Guelph.

Gellert helped with previous rover missions and said it’s the first time a Mars rover has landed without a piece of Guelph technology on it. While he’s not part of Perseverance’s mission, he said the possibilities are exciting.

“Every new landing site is a new piece of the puzzle that you can put together with the new results that we have from the other landing sites,” he said.

“It’s scientifically very interesting because, even though we don’t have an instrument on that rover, we can compare what the new rover Perseverance finds at this new landing site,” he said.

Now that Perseverance has landed on Mars, FiberTech is looking ahead to its next possible mission into space.

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