Press Release: Saskatchewan’s climate change plan unacceptable

Press Release
Saskatchewan Environmental Society
Thursday, December 8, 2016
For immediate release

Saskatchewan’s climate change plan unacceptable:
SES calls on Saskatchewan to implement federal policies

In December 2015, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES) celebrated the signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and wrote a letter to the Government of Saskatchewan outlining the steps our province would need to take in order to achieve our emission reduction obligations. One year later Saskatchewan has presented a climate change plan that has failed to outline steps that will fulfill these obligations. Now SES calls on Saskatchewan’s Government to make a commitment to additional significant efforts to achieve emission reductions during the December 9 First Ministers meeting.

The Government of Saskatchewan’s White Paper on Climate Change fails to offer an approach that will achieve Saskatchewan’s emission reduction obligations under Canada’s current commitments for the Paris Agreement. SES estimates this obligation to be a reduction of 26 Megatonnes (Mt) per year by 2030 (this is 30% below 2005 emission levels of 69.5 Mt). Saskatchewan’s plan to achieve these reductions, including Boundary Dam Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) technology and a commitment to double the percentage of renewable electricity generation, will lead to approximately 7 Mt in greenhouse gas reductions by 2030 – 19 Mt short of where our province needs to be. The Saskatchewan Government has also taken little effective action towards reaching the emission reduction target of 20% below 2006 levels it set for itself. This target means our provincial emissions would need to be 54.7 Mt by 2020, yet our current emissions are 75.5 Mt.

Saskatchewan’s climate change position makes no acknowledgement of the damages associated with our emissions – the United States Government conservatively estimates these damages are in the range of $37 dollars per tonne of C02. At this rate, Saskatchewan’s annual contribution to serious climate change impacts around the world is valued at $2.8 billion. Yet the Saskatchewan Government has called for $2.65 billion to be directed away from the least developed countries, often those most impacted by climate change.

Saskatchewan is consistently criticized for not doing its fair share when it comes to climate action because it has delayed, avoided necessary choices and effective action. Saskatchewan has an obligation to act on climate change and has publically committed to this in agreeing to The Vancouver Declaration on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

Specifically, the Saskatchewan Government has committed our province to recognizing global emissions will need to approach zero by the second half of this century, and implementing policies in support of meeting Canada’s 2030 target.

CCS technology cannot be the only strategy to achieve emission reductions. For the $1.5 billion spent to date, CCS remains a huge per capita investment for little return on emission reductions and represents a derived carbon price of $60 per tonne. It is unclear how Saskatchewan proposes to make a financial return on this investment, as the government does not own the rights to the technology.

The time is past due for serious climate action in Saskatchewan and it is the responsibility of the Saskatchewan government to take the steps necessary to prepare for a transition to a low carbon society. A failure to effectively plan will leave Saskatchewan residents vulnerable to climate change impacts such as forest fires and flooding that will become increasingly severe as atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations rise. SES calls on the provincial government to put in place policies that will achieve real emission reductions in Saskatchewan in accordance with Canada’s 2030 targets.

SES further calls on the provincial government to work in close cooperation with the Government of Canada on December 9 and beyond, to enhance proposed emission reductions measures such as a rapid coal phase-out and methane emission reduction regulations. Together, these proposals alone could lead to an additional 8 Mt in emission reductions, and a carbon pricing mechanism would provide an effective framework for further innovation.