Environment Minister Dustin Duncan has introduced the provincial government’s climate change strategy. The strategy, titled Prairie Resilience: A Made-in-Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy, focuses on the principles of readiness and resilience, while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change – without a carbon tax.
“This plan is broader and bolder than a single policy such as a carbon tax and will achieve better and more meaningful outcomes over the long term,” Duncan said. “Our climate change strategy recognizes the investment and innovation that has taken place and sets out the road map for future actions. This is about protecting our people and communities as much as it is about working with industry and others to reduce emissions here in Saskatchewan.”
The strategy proposes actions in key areas, including natural systems, physical infrastructure, economic sustainability, community preparedness, and measuring, monitoring and reporting.
The climate change strategy includes developing and implementing sector-specific output-based performance standards on large emitting facilities, such as those in oil and gas, and mining. These standards will be developed in consultation with industry throughout 2018 and will recognize actions already taken by industry to reduce emissions.
Flexible compliance options for industry will be developed that will include:
- Making improvements at facilities to reduce emissions intensity;
- Purchasing a carbon offset, representing a reduction in GHG emissions;
- Using best performance credits;
- Utilizing a market mechanism outlined in the Paris Accord, such as an internationally transferred mitigation outcome; and
- Paying into a technology fund.
The offset system will create additional value for actions that result in carbon sequestration or reduced emissions, especially from agricultural soils, wetlands, and forests. While agricultural producers will not be covered under any standard, they will benefit from being eligible to participate in the new offset program.
The strategy also reaffirms SaskPower’s commitment to achieve a 50 per cent electricity capacity from renewable resources and reduce overall GHG emissions by 40 per cent by 2030. Provincial regulations will be introduced for electrical generation that will help facilitate an equivalency agreement with the federal government covering coal-fired generation in the province.
“Saskatchewan is blessed with natural resources that provide food, fuel and fertilizer to the world and innovative producers that supply these resources in the most environmentally responsible ways possible,” Duncan said. “This strategy will allow our industries to grow and continue providing these goods while staying competitive on the world stage. It will ensure Saskatchewan remains an attractive place to do business and reaffirms our commitment to reducing emissions and addressing climate change.”
The strategy also includes increasing efficiencies in buildings by adopting the 2015 National Building Code; creating a freight strategy to improve delivery times, reduce fuel and increase efficiency, and developing a climate resiliency model to help ensure communities are able to adapt and mitigate against the effects of climate change.
Stakeholder consultations will begin in early 2018. This will refine the strategy and allow the province to implement regulations, resilience measures and reporting structures in 2018.
Saskatchewan’s climate change strategy is available at www.saskatchewan.ca/business/environmental-protection-and-sustainability/climate-change-policy.