The Saskatchewan Environmental Society has given high priority to the climate change issue. The effects of climate change around the world are now clearly visible. In Saskatchewan the largest effects to date have been very heavy rainfall events with extensive flooding, severe forest and grassland fires, and migration of insect pests from further south. Globally, climate change has disrupted the hydrological cycle, accelerated the melting of Arctic sea ice, resulted in a sharp decline in mountain glaciers, caused a dangerous rise in global sea levels, increased the intensity of hurricanes and typhoons, led to extensive damage of coral reef ecosystems, reduced crop yields, and killed hundreds of thousands of people each year. Saskatchewan’s inaction on climate change to date is reflected by the fact that per capita greenhouse gas emissions in our province are more than three times the national average and there is a steady increase in payments under the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program.
In 2021, the Canadian government adopted a more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target: 40% to 45% reduction below 2005 nation-wide emission levels by 2030. This is a positive development and comes much closer to what the United Nations and the international climate science community have been recommending. SES advocates for the adoption of the Canadian target for emission reduction in Saskatchewan. In other words, we recommend that the Saskatchewan government work with the federal government to bring emissions in our province down to 41 million tonnes per year by 2030. That would be a 34 million tonne reduction from where Saskatchewan sits in 2021, resulting in a 45% reduction below our 2021 annual emission levels. Saskatchewan must do its fair share in achieving nation-wide emission reduction. And, in order to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the use of fossil fuels worldwide will need to be phased out by 2040.
SES strongly supports replacing fossil fuels with a renewable energy future. One of the highest priorities for action in our province is the phase out of SaskPower’s coal fired power plants. SES has prepared a detailed paper on how this might be accomplished. We must recognize and respond to the needs of communities and workers currently dependent on the fossil fuel industries as we plan for a transition in a carbon constrained world.
Methane emissions from the oilfield are another major contributor to Saskatchewan’s greenhouse gas problem. Read our backgrounder on methane regulation.
SES action on climate change includes a variety of practical energy conservation and renewable energy projects as well as public education events and active participation in consultation opportunities with all levels of government. We have responded to and critiqued the Saskatchewan government’s December 2017 climate strategy document, “Prairie Resilience.”