Press Release: 25 recommendations to help the SK government triple its climate ambition
Saskatchewan Environmental Society
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
For Immediate Release
25 RECOMMENDATIONS TO HELP THE SASKATCHEWAN GOVERNMENT TRIPLE ITS CLIMATE AMBITION
One billion tonnes. That is the amount of manmade greenhouse gas pollution the province of Saskatchewan has released into Earth’s atmosphere in the past 14 years. By far the largest component is carbon dioxide emissions, with the rest primarily methane and nitrous oxide emissions. “In the face of the climate change emergency, Saskatchewan’s government needs to change course,” said Peter Prebble, board member with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES). “The current level of emissions is not environmentally sustainable. New provincial policies are urgently needed to correct the problem. It can’t be left to Ottawa alone to provide leadership.”
As the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) enters its second week, SES is calling on the Saskatchewan government to implement policy measures aimed at achieving a 45% cut in Saskatchewan’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. SES’s request aligns with urgent pleas by United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, for all governments to cut emissions 45% in the decade ahead and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Failure to do so is expected to lead to catastrophic climate change impacts.
Climate change is already threatening food security, water security, and public health and safety in many parts of the world, and its negative impacts are increasingly being felt in Western Canada. The past six years are the hottest on record worldwide, and this summer’s unprecedented heatwave in B.C., and high temperatures and severe drought on the Prairies is a warning sign of the dangers that lie ahead if the global community fails to make deep emission cuts.
“All hands on-deck are now required. We are calling on our provincial government to implement major greenhouse gas emission reduction measures in every sector of the Saskatchewan economy, to invest in a renewable energy future, to expand protected areas, and to make more use of nature-based solutions to sequester carbon dioxide emissions,” Mr. Prebble said.
SES has presented the provincial government with 25 recommendations on how deeper emission cuts can be achieved in the decade ahead, focusing on electricity generation, transportation, buildings, heavy industry, the oil and gas sector, and protected areas. SES’s recommendations also contain proposed rural initiatives and collaborative opportunities with Regina and Saskatoon.
SES proposes the following actions:
- Substantial new investments in energy conservation and solar power, along with importing 1,000 megawatts of hydro from Manitoba to help accelerate the phase-out of all Saskatchewan’s conventional coal-fired power stations by 2030. With a cleaner power grid, Saskatchewan can then cut transport emissions by steadily making the switch to electric vehicles.
- The establishment of a network of electric vehicle charging stations powered by largely by solar energy. SES also wants to see the provincial government incentivize ultra-fuel-efficient vehicles and restore inter-city bus service.
- Major changes to oil and gas regulation in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan Energy and Mines deserves credit for progress it has made in the past two years on methane reduction in this sector, but it needs to go much further. We need to closely monitor for methane releases at oil and gas well sites, put a special pollution charge on methane emissions, ban the venting of methane to the atmosphere, unless it needs to be done for safety reasons, and properly remediate the more than 20,000 inactive oil wells in Saskatchewan, some of which are leaking methane. SES also urges the Saskatchewan government to drop its plans to increase Saskatchewan oil production 25% by 2030. The International Energy Agency has warned all governments that planning for increased oil production is inconsistent with the steps necessary to avoid extremely dangerous climate change impacts.
- Much greater ambition from the provincial government when it comes to protecting Saskatchewan’s natural areas. To date 9.8% of Saskatchewan’s lands are protected, and the Saskatchewan government is aiming to ultimately reach a 12% target. However, this falls far short of international best practice. SES calls for 30% of Saskatchewan lands to be protected by 2030 and asks that protection efforts include major employment opportunities for local people and Indigenous communities. Moreover, SES is asking the Saskatchewan government to work with the Government of Canada to provide financial incentives for shelterbelt planting, wetlands restoration, and other nature-based solutions to sequester carbon.
- Regarding the buildings sector, SES proposes that SaskEnergy co-ordinate a major initiative to make hundreds of thousands of homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient. This retrofit work has the potential to create thousands of new jobs across the province. SES is also asking for the energy efficiency provisions in Saskatchewan’s building code to be upgraded by 2024 and to become net zero energy-ready by 2028.
- SES is urging the provincial government to expect much more of Saskatchewan’s large industrial emitters. The provincial government’s current goal for the industrial sector is a 10% emission cut by 2030. Tripling that goal would be a good starting point.
Mr. Prebble said the Saskatchewan government must be mindful of the scientific advice received from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the United Nations. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change requires holding the rise in average global temperature to no more than 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To have a 67% chance of achieving that, manmade carbon dioxide emissions over the entire course of the coming century need to be capped at no more than 400 billion tonnes worldwide. Saskatchewan’s government needs to take immediate steps to be part of this global effort.
To read SES’s letter to Premier Moe and Minister of Environment Kaeding, including the 25 recommendations, visit: https://bit.ly/25Recommendations