Older, longer: The super-aging of Canadians has taken everyone by surprise

Every generation is having fewer children than the one before it, leaving fewer and fewer people to care for us in our increasingly long lives. It is a crisis we ignore at our own peril.

John Ibbitson is a writer-at-large for The Globe and Mail. His latest book is Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline, co-authored with Darrell Bricker.

The oldest of the baby boomers will turn 75 next year. The generation that defined us all, that fought for peace and cheap drugs and no-fault divorce, that gave us the personal computer and the internet and the culture wars and the war on terror, that is responsible for the best and the worst of the human condition as we live it today, is getting old. And as always – always – they’re making it all about them.

The boomers are living inconveniently long lives. Over the course of the next three decades, the number of people aged 85 and older will more than triple.

“More and more people are living into their 80s and 90s than were ever expected to,” says Parminder Raina, Canada research chair in geroscience at McMaster University. “The rapidity of aging is the real issue for policy makers.”

And just as you’d expect, the boomers haven’t saved enough. Which means looking after them will cost younger generations a great deal of time and money.

Worst of all, because the boomers were also the first generation to stop having enough children to replace themselves, there are fewer young people available to look after the old.

Every generation is having fewer children than the generation before. Things are going to be even harder for Generation X. And harder still for the millennials.

“This is a fundamental, paradigmatic shift in society, and for too long we’ve buried our heads,” says Michael Nicin, executive director of Ryerson University’s National Institute on Ageing.

This isn’t some abstract policy challenge. This is about us, caring for our parents or our spouse. This is us, worried about our children’s future. This is about everyone getting older every day, with not enough money to pay for it.

Unless governments, families and individuals act now to bend the curve on the cost of aging, many of us will not enjoy our later years.

Remaining life expectancy at age 65 in Canada, by year and gender
Dates denote ends of two-year statistical periods


Year Men Women
1982-01-01 14.6 18.9
1983-01-01 14.7 19
1984-01-01 14.7 19.1
1985-01-01 14.8 19.2
1986-01-01 14.9 19.2
1987-01-01 15 19.3
1988-01-01 15 19.4
1989-01-01 15.2 19.5
1990-01-01 15.3 19.6
1991-01-01 15.5 19.7
1992-01-01 15.7 19.8
1993-01-01 15.8 19.8
1994-01-01 15.8 19.8
1995-01-01 15.9 19.8
1996-01-01 16 19.9
1997-01-01 16.1 19.9
1998-01-01 16.2 19.9
1999-01-01 16.3 20
2000-01-01 16.5 20.1
2001-01-01 16.7 20.2
2002-01-01 17 20.3
2003-01-01 17.1 20.4
2004-01-01 17.3 20.5
2005-01-01 17.5 20.7
2006-01-01 17.7 20.9
2007-01-01 17.9 21
2008-01-01 18 21.2
2009-01-01 18.2 21.3
2010-01-01 18.4 21.5
2011-01-01 18.7 21.7
2012-01-01 18.8 21.8
2013-01-01 19 21.9
2014-01-01 19.1 22
2015-01-01 19.1 22
2016-01-01 19.2 22
2017-01-01 19.3 22.1

Remaining life expectancy at age 65 in Canada, by year and gender

When the pensions and public health-care systems that Canadians rely on today were first put in place in the 1960s, the life expectancy of a man was 69 years, just four years after he was likely to retire. But a man who turns 65 today will live, on average, another 19 years, and a woman will live another 22 years, according to Statistics Canada.

And longevity continues to increase. The fastest-growing age group in Canada is centenarians. There are more than 10,000 of them today, three times the number in 2001, and there should be about 40,000 by mid-century.

Over the same decades in which longevity has increased, the fertility rate has decreased. Today it sits at 1.5, half a baby short of the 2.1 children per woman, on average, needed to keep a population stable. If it weren’t for this country’s high immigration intake, Canada’s population would eventually start to decline, just as it is declining or about to decline in dozens of countries around the world, from China to Japan to Italy to Russia.

Total fertility rate in Canada
Live births per woman

012341928194019521964197619882000Rate of replacement3.3

Year Rate
1928-01-01 3.3
1929-01-01 3.22
1930-01-01 3.28
1931-01-01 3.2
1932-01-01 3.09
1933-01-01 2.87
1934-01-01 2.8
1935-01-01 2.75
1936-01-01 2.7
1937-01-01 2.64
1938-01-01 2.7
1939-01-01 2.65
1940-01-01 2.76
1941-01-01 2.83
1942-01-01 2.96
1943-01-01 3.03
1944-01-01 3
1945-01-01 3.01
1946-01-01 3.36
1947-01-01 3.58
1948-01-01 3.43
1949-01-01 3.44
1950-01-01 3.44
1951-01-01 3.49
1952-01-01 3.63
1953-01-01 3.71
1954-01-01 3.82
1955-01-01 3.82
1956-01-01 3.86
1957-01-01 3.92
1958-01-01 3.88
1959-01-01 3.94
1960-01-01 3.91
1961-01-01 3.86
1962-01-01 3.78
1963-01-01 3.69
1964-01-01 3.52
1965-01-01 3.16
1966-01-01 2.83
1967-01-01 2.6
1968-01-01 2.46
1969-01-01 2.41
1970-01-01 2.34
1971-01-01 2.13
1972-01-01 1.97
1973-01-01 1.88
1974-01-01 1.83
1975-01-01 1.83
1976-01-01 1.78
1977-01-01 1.75
1978-01-01 1.7
1979-01-01 1.7
1980-01-01 1.68
1981-01-01 1.65
1982-01-01 1.63
1983-01-01 1.62
1984-01-01 1.62
1985-01-01 1.61
1986-01-01 1.59
1987-01-01 1.58
1988-01-01 1.6
1989-01-01 1.66
1990-01-01 1.71
1991-01-01 1.72
1992-01-01 1.71
1993-01-01 1.68
1994-01-01 1.69
1995-01-01 1.67
1996-01-01 1.63
1997-01-01 1.57
1998-01-01 1.56
1999-01-01 1.54
2000-01-01 1.51
2001-01-01 1.54
2002-01-01 1.51
2003-01-01 1.64
2004-01-01 1.55
2005-01-01 1.57
2006-01-01 1.61
2007-01-01 1.66
2008-01-01 1.68
2009-01-01 1.67
2010-01-01 1.63
2011-01-01 1.61
2012-01-01 1.61
2013-01-01 1.59
2014-01-01 1.58
2015-01-01 1.56
2016-01-01 1.54
2017-01-01 1.5
2018-01-01 1.5

Total fertility rate in Canada

As a result of increasing longevity and decreasing fertility, Canadian society is aging rapidly. In 1982, the median age in Canada was 30. Today it is 41. There are now more people 65 and older than people 14 and younger in Canada, and that will widen in the years ahead.

Proportion of children aged 14 and under and people aged 65 and older in Canada


year 0-14 65+
1851-01-01 44.8 2.5
1861-01-01 42.4 3.0
1871-01-01 41.7 3.6
1881-01-01 38.7 4.1
1891-01-01 36.4 4.6
1901-01-01 34.5 5.1
1911-01-01 33.1 4.7
1921-01-01 34.4 4.8
1931-01-01 31.6 5.6
1941-01-01 27.8 6.7
1951-01-01 30.3 7.8
1956-01-01 32.5 7.7
1961-01-01 34.0 7.6
1966-01-01 32.9 7.7
1971-01-01 29.6 8.1
1976-01-01 25.6 8.7
1981-01-01 22.5 9.7
1986-01-01 21.3 10.7
1991-01-01 20.9 11.6
1996-01-01 20.5 12.2
2001-01-01 19.1 13.0
2006-01-01 17.7 13.7
2011-01-01 16.8 14.8
2016-01-01 16.6 16.9
2021-01-01 16.3 18.7
2031-01-01 16.0 23.1
2041-01-01 15.3 24.2
2051-01-01 15.4 24.8
2061-01-01 15.5 25.5

Proportion of children aged 14 and under and people aged 65 and older in Canada

“Lower fertility rates are going to mean that services that have traditionally been provided by the family – namely women – will need to be paid for,” says Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald, who researches family security issues at the National Institute on Ageing. “It won’t be cheap.”

That’s an understatement.

The costs of caring for the elderly will be staggering. By the time someone who is around 40 today retires, long-term-care costs will be eating up about 20 per cent of all government revenue generated by personal income taxes.

And even as those costs go up, Canada’s tax base will erode further because fewer people are entering the work force every year.

“The role of population aging on economic growth might have been underappreciated,” says Colin Busby, a research director at the Institute for Research on Public Policy, a Montreal-based think tank. “It might be an even stronger driver of the decline in economic growth and government revenues going forward.”

Individually, Canadians are ill-prepared for leaving work. Half of all Canadians approaching retirement do not have a workplace pension. The median level of retirement savings for these people is $3,000. No, there isn’t a missing zero.

Three. Thousand. Dollars.

“Canadians without pension plans are not saving adequately on their own using the retirement saving tax-incentive tools given to them,” Ms. MacDonald says.

The cost to governments of caring for older Canadians is set to skyrocket. By 2050, there will be more than twice as many people needing long-term care – care provided outside a hospital. By then, the cost to all levels of government will have tripled, from $22-billion to $71-billion.

Many of those needing care will have dementia. Eight in 10 people in long-term care today have some form of the condition, according to Carole Estabrooks, director of the TREC (Translating Research in Elder Care) program at the University of Alberta. The number of Canadians with dementia is expected to grow from 564,000 in 2016 to 920,000 in 2031, an increase of 63 per cent.

“It’s a huge issue,” she says.

And sloughing off the burden of care onto families will not be an option for any future hardhearted government, because 75 per cent of the cost of long-term care in Canada is already provided, for free, by family members, usually women. And that burden will increase with every passing year.

Almost all of the overworked, underpaid personal support workers in nursing homes are also women. Their work is greatly undervalued. “It’s personal support, it’s companionship,” Prof. Estabrooks says. “It’s helping the people they care for have a good day, have a good moment, trying to ensure they get some small enjoyment, some pleasure out of life. And that’s the kind of stuff that tends to get shorted.” But as labour shortages increase, wages are bound to rise. In any case, whether paid or unpaid, with every year there will be more people needing care and fewer people available to provide it.

A registered nurse and caregiver walk down the narrow hallways of a now-closed retirement residence in Duncan, B.C. Are you retirement-ready?

Try The Globe and Mail’s calculator to find out how much of your working income you’ll need in retirement.

Read more

At this stage, most Canadians aren’t prepared to accept realistic measures to rein in the increasing costs of an aging society. One measure would be to raise the age of retirement. With most Canadians healthy into their 80s, pensioning someone off at 65 is like giving them a paid vacation.

But when Stephen Harper’s Conservatives raised the age for receiving Old Age Security from 65 to 67, the howls prompted Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to drop the age back to 65. In any case, whether through financial need, poor planing or both, many Canadians start taking Canada Pension Plan benefits when they turn 60, even though the long-term benefit is lower than it would be if they waited till 65 or, even better, 70.

Another approach might be to forcibly unlock the wealth accumulated by older Canadians. In the United States, according to a report in Forbes magazine, the silent generation (people over 75) held about 1.3 times the amount of wealth of boomers, more than twice that of Gen Xers and 23 times that of millennials. Equity built up in real estate accounted for much of the discrepancy.

Instead of giving seniors discounts and tax breaks, perhaps it’s time to ask them to pay the full costs of the health and long-term care they receive. Such a proposal would be political suicide, however, since there are so many seniors, who historically have been more likely to vote than their millennial counterparts.

One way to help smooth the aging curve might lie in recruiting skilled young immigrants to replace the missing workers from the dearth of births. And Canada is doing exactly that. There were more than 570,000 people in Canada on student visas at the end of 2018, almost 75 per cent more than in 2014. Many of these students can apply for permanent-resident status after graduation.

But immigration can have only a limited impact on societal aging, in part because immigrants often apply to bring their parents over as well. And opening the immigration floodgate beyond the 341,000 that Canada is expected to take in this year could provoke strong opposition from the native born. The populist Coalition Avenir Québec government in Quebec, for example, is cutting back on immigrants and requiring new arrivals to take a Quebec values test.

Another approach to coping with the costs of aging has barely registered with most people: long-term-care insurance. As with other forms of workplace insurance, workers and employers would make contributions toward a fund that would cover the costs of home care, assisted living, nursing home and palliative care when they need it later in life.

There are plenty of questions: How much would it cost? Would older people today be eligible to receive the funds, or would only those who had contributed for decades qualify? Several countries, including Germany, already have such a program in place, which could serve as a template.

At McMaster University, Prof. Raina would like to see long-term-care insurance or other forms of government support for people who must work less in order to care for someone who has dementia or other intensive needs. He is also a strong proponent of care centres for the elderly, where caregivers can drop off their charges for part of the day while they work or just take a break.

“I think some kind of respite care that is based in the community is really, really important,” he says.

Prof. Estabrooks at TREC emphasizes the need to help seniors “age in place.”

“We’ve got to enhance community supports, and home care is probably the biggest one,” she says. But what matters most is moving from this study and that pilot program to full-scale initiatives. “We can do this by tackling each problem one solution at a time.“

Inge Csongradi, 89, sits in the North York apartment where she has lived by herself for two decades. Housing anxiety for seniors

In the Toronto area’s heated housing market, three women over 80 face hard choices about whether to stay or go. Photographer Emma Kreiner tells their stories.

Read more

Without long-term solutions to the fiscal challenges of an aging society, intergenerational tensions are likely to rise. In some countries, those tensions are already severe.

In December’s British elections, English attitudes toward Brexit – with supporters of leaving the European Union inclined toward the Conservatives and opponents toward most other parties – were defined by age more than by geography or class. The youngest voters most fiercely opposed Brexit, and the oldest most fervently supported it, no matter where they lived or what their income.

“Age is now one of the key dividing lines in British politics,” said Gideon Skinner, public affairs research director for Ipsos MORI. In the election, according to the British polling firm, Labour had a 26-point lead among 18-to-34-year-olds, while the Conservatives had a 37-point lead among people 65 and older.

Some believe younger voters are more socially tolerant than older voters. But that isn’t entirely true. “Younger generations are generally far more accepting of diversity of gender, race, religion as compared with an older generation,” observes Lorraine Mercer, a professor of gerontology at Huntington University, which is part of Sudbury’s Laurentian University. “And yet, I don’t think they’re as accepting of older people. All the stereotypes of older people they still buy into.” Ageism – discriminating against a person because they are older – may be the last barrier to full diversity.

Although, as Prof. Raina says, ageism spans the generations. “Older people can be ageist toward other older people.”

There is, however, one massively important, although impossible to quantify, counterbalance to the prospect of growing intergenerational tension: love.

As Mr. Nicin points out, children want their parents to live long and healthy lives. And parents are anxious not to be a burden to their children. Whatever the official age of retirement, many people are working past 65 of their own volition. Pension experts are exploring new options to encourage retirement savings.

“We are all worried about each other,” Mr. Nicin says. “We all care for each other.” He expects to see an increase in intergenerational housing over the years, as children, parents and grandparents lean on one another for support. “The more we depend on each other, and not on the state, the better off we are,” he believes.

For as long as we can foresee, there will be more older and fewer younger people among us every year. If we are to live well, we must care for one another, however old we are and whatever we may need.


What do Antarctic explorers, a major national telco, and mental health have in common?

Excellent articles and so well said by both, I hope many more can read this. I have grappled with stability most of my life and that is difficult to admit.

Robby Robin's Journey

Now that I look at this title I can see that I’ve set myself up for some wrong answers! So, no, the answer is not that anyone skiing to the South Pole (and then climbing the highest mountain in Antarctica) must have a mental health issue. And, no, the answer isn’t that anyone who thinks that there are not hidden charges and changes behind the “deals” the telcos advertise must have a mental health illness. Not that those aren’t reasonable answers! But in this case, the Antarctic explorer, who I’m proud to say is a local Fredericton man, and Bell Canada have both committed to helping make a huge difference in our awareness and support for mental health.

I am one of the lucky ones who has not struggled with a mental health issue … so far. Not only do statistics show that in any given year 1 in 5…

View original post 1,118 more words

The World of Sky Hunters (2 images)

Wow, such a magical creature and so fascinating.

Laura Putman Nature Photography

Dragonflies, known as sky hunters because they catch 95% of their prey midair have been around for over 310 million years, long before the existence of dinosaurs. The first dragonflies had a wingspan from two to three feet, other than that they were the same as the modern day variant.

Beautiful, delicate and colorful, these insects are predatory in nature with a voracious appetite. Because they need plenty of nutrition for their large bodies, they prey on and hunt anything they can overpower including mosquitoes, bees, flies, moths, wasps and butterflies, even one of their own, Dragonflies have a well-earned reputation as cannibals.

Dragonflies have colonized every continent including the Sahara desert. They have astonishing flying skills, flying forward at approximately 35 miles per hour, they can even hover in mid-flight for almost one minute and rotate 360 degrees in place. Moreover, they can fly backwards with similar swiftness. Dragonflies can fly as…

View original post 53 more words

There is beauty and joy at the end of life, too.

Thank you Sarah for a truly wonderful article which really helps me to continue my work here helping to establish a Hospice. This really helps to give the work a much more human voice.
Sarah Gray

Illustration by Mary Kirkpatrick

First Person is a daily personal piece submitted by readers. Have a story to tell? See our guidelines at tgam.ca/essayguide.

What people don’t understand is the beauty and joy to be found at the end of life. When I tell people I work at a hospice, they often say “that must be so hard.” But my favourite thing is hearing people’s stories, their experiences, their successes, their failures – the things that life has taught them. I love helping them share these stories with their family members. It helps the family members keep their loved one alive in their memories after he or she dies.

I had a husband of a resident come in six months after she had died to say that he received a Christmas card from her, written to him while in hospice. He was tearful, but so incredibly grateful for this gift. He said the card helped keep her alive for one last Christmas.

Hospice workers encourage conversations about things that want to be said and heard. We create time for families to connect, laugh and cry together. Mostly, we help create a legacy of the resident that will remain with their family.

We have helped someone write letters to each of her children. We have sung favourite songs, played favourite games. We have celebrated birthdays, births, marriages, vow renewals. We have rolled people in their beds out onto the patio to sit in the sun. Often, this is their first time outside the four walls of a hospital or bedroom in months. How amazing it is to have such a thoughtfully designed building that can make this possible – feeling the warmth of the sun directly on their skin, hearing the birds chirping from the nearby feeder and breathing in the fresh air. I see how it provides the resident and their family with a sense of normalcy. This is where the best conversations happen. Families can forget, for a moment, about what is to come, and just enjoy the present.

Hospice is a place that collects nurses and personal support workers such as me. The emotionally challenging work we do weans out the people who think it’s just a job. You do not just show up for a shift, put in the time, and clock in and out. You are responsible for providing this human being, who has lived a whole life, with the care and dignity they deserve as they finish it. We help ensure that all loose ends are tied. Sometimes, these things are big, such as arranging a visit from a miniature pony that one of our residents used to show. Sometimes they are small, such as staff sitting at the bedside of a resident who doesn’t have any family, holding their hand, so they don’t die alone.

I have spent time working in hospitals, in long-term care and in the community as I searched for a place where the work that I did matched my beliefs of patient-centred care and individuality. After my first day at the hospice, I knew I had finally found my match. The loss of the residents we care for like family does not take a big piece of us with them but, rather, fills us with purpose and joy. The work we do gives us so much back that the word “rewarding” doesn’t even scrape the surface.

I began working at the hospice in May, 2017. As much as I love the work and what we accomplish, I could never have imagined needing it myself. Shortly after I started, my father was diagnosed with cancer. Soon we were faced with the decision I have seen so many other families struggle with: Do we settle for adequate care in the comfort of our home or do we move to the hospice where we will receive excellent care but in an unfamiliar location? The decision was easy for me, but not so much for my mom. She was afraid that moving him to hospice meant she was giving up her ability to care for her husband. But my mom was relieved to discover that she could still conduct much of the care, even in our facility. She did not have to sacrifice one for the other. With the 24/7 nursing and physician support, Dad – after eight months of suffering from his illness – finally had some peace.

During this time of comfort, he was able to give back to us something we will carry with us forever. He called us all in, on his last good day, told us all how much he loved us and reassured us that he never suffered. He was able to leave me with a recording, telling me what our relationship meant to him and that he would be with me through all of the big life events that he would now miss.

The hospice isn’t a place where people come to die. It is where they come to live – to live well for the little time they have left. It is a place of celebration, connection, comfort and support. It is a place of safety for the dying and the grieving. Experiencing such care with my father has only fuelled my passion to ensure that as many people as possible can have a similar experience.

Sarah Gray lives in Kitchener, Ont.

Kindness, compassion, and post-truth

This should provide some grist for discussions.

Robby Robin's Journey

My philosophy discussion group is “studying” Post-Truth this term. More often than not we’re exploring a philosophical topic where the ideas are so challenging (along with the writing) that we spend ages trying to make heads or tails of what the philosopher is saying. (It’s really way more fun than it sounds!) In this case, however, it is painfully clear. There’s nothing difficult to understand about what post-truth is; the difficult thing is figuring out just how we can get past it.

Post-Truth?! What is that, anyway, yet another catch phrase of our times, like fake news and hoaxes? When are we going to get past this strange world of alternate universes? Well, it turns out that Post-Truth really is an accepted and accurate term to describe the world we now find ourselves in. The mainstream news sources that people used to count on for thorough investigative reporting (the most…

View original post 1,170 more words

God and good

excellent ideas here and definitely some further reading.

I can't believe it!

god coverStruggling through the brainache of what is it all about soon leads you on to the subject of God, and what constitutes a good life. This is another source of brainache, but fortunately there is a guide, in the form of Keith Ward’s book God, subtitled A Guide for the Perplexed.

Why did I read such a book, published as it was in 2002? It was actually a posthumous present from friend Chris Lyons, who died 3 years ago now. A wonderful part of Chris’s funeral was the opportunity to select one of the books from his extensive library as a gift. Browsing through the books available I was drawn to this one by Keith Ward, who is variously described as priest, philosopher and theologian. I had some years previously seen Keith give a stimulating talk at a Mystics & Scientists conference.

My conclusion

Keith Ward…

View original post 955 more words

In climate push, Microsoft to erase its carbon footprint from atmosphere

Microsoft President Brad Smith announces the company’s plans to be carbon negative by 2030 and to negate all the direct carbon emissions ever made by the company by 2050 at their campus in Redmond, Washington, U.S., Jan. 16, 2020.


Microsoft Corp on Thursday set a new ambition among Fortune 500 companies in addressing climate change, pledging to remove as much carbon as it has emitted in its 45-year history.

The focus on clearing carbon from the atmosphere sets Microsoft’s climate goals apart from other corporate pledges which have focused on cutting ongoing emissions or preventing future ones.

“If the last decade has taught us anything, it’s that technology built without these principles can do more harm than good,” chief executive Satya Nadella said at a media event at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

“We must begin to offset the damaging effects of climate change,” he said, adding if global temperatures continue to rise unabated “the results will be devastating.”

The plan includes the creation of a “Climate Innovation Fund,” which will invest $1 billion over the next four years to speed up the development of carbon removal technology.

The announcement by the world’s largest software company reflects the rising profile of U.S. corporate action after President Donald Trump announced in 2017 his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, the global pact to fight climate change.


Microsoft’s pledge to address its historical emissions may resonate with some developing nations which say countries that created the most carbon, and wealth in the process, are not taking responsibility for their past pollution.

U.S. Senators Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, and Mike Braun, an Indiana Republican, applauded Microsoft.

“The scope and scale of this proposal is exactly the kind of bold action we need from the business community,” the pair, chairs of the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, said in a statement.

Microsoft plans to cut carbon emissions by more than half by 2030 across its supply chain, an effort requiring technology that does not fully exist, company President Brad Smith said.

He said Microsoft would widen the reach of a fee it has charged its business divisions to account for their carbon emissions.

Microsoft said it charges $15 per metric ton for core carbon emissions internally and will expand the coverage in phases to cover all emissions. Microsoft’s price is lower than that for carbon traded in California, where it was $17 per ton in the most recent auction, and the European Union, where it was estimated to trade at 26.57 euros, or $29.58, in the current quarter.


Co-founder Bill Gates was an early backer of British Columbia-based Carbon Engineering, among a handful of developers of direct air capture technology.

Carbon Engineering CEO Steve Oldham said the firm’s first direct air capture plant is under construction and is expected to capture 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

Microsoft “is at the helm of what could be a new movement toward negative emissions,” Elizabeth V. Sturcken of the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement, adding that the non-profit advocacy group was eager for Microsoft to use its political influence as well.

Microsoft’s goal of removing enough carbon by 2050 to account for all its emissions since its founding in 1975 includes direct emissions from sources such as company vehicles and indirect emissions from electricity use.

Question remain about the technology that Microsoft is considering. Sue Reid, vice president of climate and energy at U.S. non-profit Ceres, which works with companies on sustainability commitments, said the economics of direct air capture have yet to be worked out, and reforestation rates may not be fast enough to catch up with growing emissions.

“That math is all facing some new uncertainty and vulnerabilities tied to exacerbated climate change impact, (like there being) more wildfires,” she said.


Microsoft’s announcement comes as big investors pay more attention to how companies tackle climate change.

Earlier this week, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said companies must act or face investors’ anger over how unsustainable business practices might curb their future wealth.

But even as technology companies have stepped in with climate goal plans, they have faced employee criticism for doing too little.

Amazon.com Inc, the world’s largest online retailer, last year pledged to be “net zero carbon” by 2040 and to buy 100,000 electric delivery vans from a startup, after employee activists pushed the retailer to toughen its stance on climate change.

Microsoft plans to become net zero carbon a decade earlier than Amazon, although its emissions are roughly a third of Amazon’s.

Microsoft expects to release 16 million metric tons of carbon in 2020, including indirect emissions from activities like corporate travel.

Amazon, whose cloud business is bigger than Microsoft’s, delivers billions of packages as the largest internet retailer and owns grocer Whole Foods. It emitted more than 44 million metric tons of carbon in 2018, including indirect sources.

It was not immediately clear if the figures reported by the companies were exactly comparable.


Microsoft and Amazon have come under fire from activist tech workers who have demanded that they stop supplying technology to oil and gas companies because of the polluting nature of fossil-fuel extraction. Microsoft in 2017 announced a multiyear deal to sell cloud services to U.S. energy giant Chevron Corp .

Microsoft Workers 4 Good, which says it represents Microsoft employees aiming to hold the company to its stated values, lauded the climate plan but said “this goal is incompatible with contracts that aim to increase oil extraction, a process which we know is not sustainable.”

In a blog post, Microsoft on Thursday reiterated its commitment to working with oil and gas providers, saying it is “imperative that we enable energy companies to transition” to renewable energy and carbon-capture technologies.

Bill Weihl, former director of sustainability at Facebook Inc, said Microsoft does not take into account that its work with oil companies could outweigh the gains of measures Microsoft takes on its own carbon reduction.

“There is good stuff here,” Weihl said. “But the topline message, that this is urgent, is not matched by what they’re focusing on.”

How can climate change not be the main goal of all countries in 2020? Canada?!

Robby Robin's Journey

Australia is burning. California’s been burning. British Columbia’s been burning. Portugal’s been burning. This summer, the Arctic broke records for wildfires in Canada, Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia. In the Arctic!  We’ve seen storms more volatile and ferocious than ever before, bringing destructive flooding.  Massive glaciers and ice sheets melting at unheard of rates. Threat of coastal flooding of epic proportions. Island nations fearful of being swallowed up by rising seas in the foreseeable future. What could possibly be more important to every country and every political leader than addressing climate change?

You got it, money. Not the money needed to make radical changes. Not the money needed to support innovation in developing new sustainable energy sources. Not the money needed to incentivize people to embrace new technologies free of fossil fuels. No, it’s all that money flowing from fossil fuel-based industries that decision makers are loath to give up…

View original post 565 more words

Canada Declares Peace

Thanks Paul for giving this incident the gravity it deserves.

The Out And Abouter

trudeau Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Normally you would find a satirical article here. In this case, it would attempt to skewer the fetishization of war so banally common in the world today – and which this week tragically cut short the lives of 176 innocent people – by juxtaposing it against a more hopeful way out of the cycle of violence. That of peace.

There would be fictional quotes from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and thinly veiled disgust for the chest-beating of U.S. President Donald Trump, and Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei. The article might conclude with a bitter statement from an average person, asking what war has done for them lately; or a final word from Trudeau, underscoring that while Canada is angered, and deeply hurt, it will not perpetuate the endless cycle of violence.

But we aren’t going to do that. Because the people who were on…

View original post 545 more words