SASKATOON – A Saskatchewan environmental advocacy group is calling on the provincial government to tackle climate change by working toward reducing its carbon emissions after the federal government pledged to do so in an international agreement last week. The federal government recently pledged to reduce its emissions to 30 per cent lower than they were in 2005.
Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES) officials say they want the province to do the same and presented a number of reduction measures it believes will complete the task at a press conference Tuesday morning.
“We’re just saying Saskatchewan should do its share,” said Peter Prebble, SES director of environmental policy.
“We shouldn’t grind our hands over this; we should get on with emissions reduction.”
To achieve the same goal that Ottawa has set, the province would need to reduce carbon emissions by 26 million tonnes a year, according to Prebble. To put it in perspective, the SaskPower carbon capture project at the Boundary Dam reduces one million tonnes a year.
The SES is advocating for a number of cross-sector measures to be implemented to achieve this goal. Officials are pushing to offer financial incentives for those purchasing energy-efficient cars, or outfitting their homes with solar panels. Phasing out Saskatchewan’s coal fired power plants and enacting a “revenue-neutral” carbon tax are also among the ideas.
“There would be reductions in sales tax, there would be reductions in income tax, and there would be a corresponding increase in tax related to fossil fuel consumption,” said Prebble of the tax plan.
“The intent of this would be to discourage fossil fuel consumption … and to encourage energy efficiency.”
Prebble said a carbon tax plan should be formed after the policy that’s implemented in British Columbia. It’s an idea that could work in Saskatchewan, according to resource economist Joel Bruneau. He added that the measure hasn’t hurt B.C.’s economic activity.
“There’s always winners and losers in any policy that you generate, but the net effect seems to be almost zero,” said Bruneau.
Saskatchewan is one of the highest carbon emitters per capita in the country, according to national statistics. Bruneu said the province’s characteristics and its resource driven economy will always put it towards the front of the pack in this category, but measures can still be taken to reduce the footprint.
“The question is, can we be above average, but not that much above average,” said Bruneau.
“Can we bring our averages down to something that’s more reasonable?”
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