April 30, 2014 9:21 am

Climate change alarm sounded in Saskatchewan

A Saskatchewan organization is sounding the alarm over climate change and wants municipalities and the province to take action.

Brent McGillvray / Global News

SASKATOON – A Saskatchewan organization is urging the province and municipalities to take action after it released a report on climate change in the province.

The Saskatchewan’s citizen’s hearings on climate change released its final report on the issue after holding a two day meeting spanning 20 hours attended by approximately 200 people last November.

The findings found the primary problems of climate change are largely caused by greenhouse gas emission associated with fuel consumption.

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They said coal and then oil are the worst emitters, along with substantial emissions produced by natural gas burning or flaring and both Saskatchewan and Alberta are the worst polluters in Canada.

According to the report, Saskatchewan accounts for 10 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse emissions although it only has three per cent of the nation’s population.

“Saskatchewan and all parts of the globe have a moral responsibility to communities most affected by climate change,” reads the report.

“If stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere cannot be achieved soon, the economic, social and environmental costs for the next generation will be very high.”

The authors of the report, who worked with Peter Prebble, director of environmental policy for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, said some of those impacts are already being felt.

“There has already been a marked increase in flooding in our province over the past decade, and that is likely to continue for some time,” continued the report.

“Saskatchewan needs to be concerned about the growing potential for more intense and prolonged drought, a risk likely to become a reality as the century progresses.”

“Saskatchewan is vulnerable to the potential for more extreme weather events.”

Among changes urged is a move away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy like wind and solar power, the capture and use of natural gas instead of venting and flaring and replacing aging coal fired plants with a broad mix of renewable electrical sources over the next decade.

The authors are also calling on Saskatchewan to “drop the idea of developing oil sands in the province” and terminate all subsidies in the oil and gas industry and want Canada to rejoin the Kyoto protocol and adopt a plan similar to that in Europe to reduce greenhouse gas emission.

Maria Campbell, Marcia McKenzie, Harry Lafond and Willard Metzger, the commissioners who presided over the hearings and wrote the report, said change cannot happen without the full cooperation of local, provincial, First Nation, Metis and national governments.

They also said climate change education should be a priority in all school systems, universities, colleges and in community education.

The full report can be found at the Saskatchewan citizen’s hearings on climate change website.

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