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Saskatchewan Premier announces province’s climate change plan


October 18, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter


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Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has released the province’s Climate Change White Paper, calling for adaptation and innovation instead of taxation on carbon.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall arrives for a meeting of Premiers in Whitehorse, Yukon, Friday, July, 22, 2016. It seemed to come as a surprise to everyone: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau telling the House of Commons that Ottawa will set a minimum price for carbon pollution, forcing the hand of any province or territory that’s not doing it themselves. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

“There are three approaches we can take to fighting climate change – adaptation, innovation and taxation,” Wall said in outlining his alternative approach to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recently announced “pan-Canadian floor price on carbon pollution.” Of the three approaches, Wall said in a statement on Tuesday, “a carbon tax will do the most harm to the economy while having the least positive impact on reducing emissions. We should be focusing our efforts on innovation and adaptation, not taxation.”

Wall noted that there are more than 2,400 new coal-fired power plants planned or under construction around the world, according to a report released last December at the Paris climate change summit. Those plants alone will emit 6.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – nearly nine times Canada’s annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“This is why innovation – developing technology that can be used around the world to reduce emissions – is the logical response if we actually want to solve the problem,” Wall said in the statement.  “In Saskatchewan, we’re focused on making a difference in that battle through the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) that could dramatically reduce the emissions from those 2,400 new coal-fired plants.”

Wall’s plan for action by the Saskatchewan and Canadian government includes:

  • Calling on the federal government to double funding for climate change adaptation research, planning and infrastructure, targeted specifically at areas affected by the impact of climate change, like remote northern communities;
  • In Saskatchewan, supporting the Crop Development Centre and the Global Institute for Food Security as they continue working on new crop varieties that are better able to withstand climate change and that effectively fix GHGs to the soil;
  • Partnering with the federal government through SaskPower and the International CCS Knowledge Centre to develop the next generation of CCS technology for coal plants to enable cost-effective global deployment of post-combustion technology and securing recognition for investments made by the people of Saskatchewan through SaskPower in CCS technology;
  • Calling on the federal government to redeploy its $2.65 billion, five-year commitment to developing countries to deal with climate change by adding it to the existing $2 billion federal Low Carbon Economy Trust and use that funding for research and innovation in Canada that has the potential to reduce emissions worldwide, with technologies like CCS and small nuclear reactors;
  • Increasing SaskPower’s renewables like wind and solar to 50% of its generating capacity by 2030;
  • Pushing for recognition of emission-reducing carbon offsets, like hydro exports from B.C., Manitoba and Quebec, and the carbon stored in Canada’s vast forests, wetlands and farmland; and
  • When the resource economy strengthens, moving ahead with plans for a fund supported by a levy on large emitters, with the fund’s expenditures limited to new technologies and innovation to reduce GHGs and not for general revenue.

“Energy, mining, agriculture – the backbone of Saskatchewan’s economy – will be hit hard by a carbon tax,” said Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall. Credit: Government of Saskatchewan.

“Make no mistake – a carbon tax will harm Saskatchewan,” Wall said in the statement. “Thousands of people make their living in trade-exposed, carbon-intensive industries that are especially vulnerable. Energy, mining, agriculture – the backbone of Saskatchewan’s economy – will be hit hard by a carbon tax.”

On Oct. 3, Trudeau pre-empted climate change negotiations with Canada’s premiers, announcing that the federal government will impose a pan-Canadian floor price on carbon pollution, the Canadian Press reported. Under the plan, a “low carbon price” of $10 per tonne would start in 2018, rising by $10 per tonne each year until it reaches $50 per tonne in 2022.

And he gave the provinces just two options for implementing that price: either impose their direct price on carbon that meets or exceeds the national flood price, as British Columbia has already done, or set up a cap and trade system, as Ontario and Quebec are developing.

If any province or territory does not implement one of the two options by 2018, “the government of Canada will implement a price in that jurisdiction,” Trudeau warned, adding that all revenue would be given to the province or territory in which it is generated.