Saskatchewan unveils climate change plan; will not submit to Ottawa for assessment

Sask. unveils next step in climate change strategy
WATCH ABOVE: Saskatchewan has unveiled the emission targets for heavy industry, but there are still steps that need to be determined in the climate change strategy.

After announcing the framework for their climate change strategy late last year, the Saskatchewan government unveiled the performance standards for Prairie Resilience.

This comes just days before provinces have to submit their climate change plans to the federal government by Sept. 1.

If plans do not pass Environment and Climate Change Canada’s scrutiny, their home jurisdiction will have the federal carbon tax applied.

READ MORE: Sask. environment minister unveils carbon tax free climate strategy

Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said Saskatchewan will not be submitting Prairie Resilience for evaluation.

“We plan to advise the federal government of our progress on reducing emissions and building a more resilient province; however, we are not submitting our plan for assessment, nor are we changing course on our strong and effective approach on climate change,” Duncan said.

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Global News has reached out to Environment and Climate Change Canada for comment on Saskatchewan not submitting a plan.

WATCH BELOW: Catherine McKenna responds to Saskatchewan saying no to her plan for carbon pricing

Catherine McKenna responds to Saskatchewan saying no to her plan for carbon pricing
Catherine McKenna responds to Saskatchewan saying no to her plan for carbon pricing

Since the Prairie Resilience plan was announced on Dec. 4, 2017, the province has been working with industry groups to develop the performance standards. Prairie Resilience will come into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

READ MORE: Sask. applies for previous denied $62M in green infrastructure funding

The standards will apply to more than 40 industrial facilities. According to the province, these facilities are responsible for 11 per cent of Saskatchewan’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, or 8.5 million tonnes.

These emissions are expected to be reduced by a total of 10 per cent by 2030.

Duncan said the reductions are on top of previously announced reductions for electricity generation and methane from upstream oil and gas production, both at 40 per cent.

“Reductions in these three key areas will reduce emissions by 12 megatonnes of greenhouse gases each year by 2030,” Duncan said.

“Our bold and innovative system-wide strategy is designed to responsibly and tangibly reduce emissions without the imposition of an economy-wide carbon tax.”

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READ MORE: Critics say Saskatchewan carbon tax study isn’t credible

Through “sector-specific performance standards” the following emission reductions are expected for the following industries:

  • Potash, coal and uranium mining (5 per cent)
  • Iron and steel mills (5 per cent)
  • Fertilizer manufacturing (5 per cent)
  • Pulp mills (5 per cent)
  • Ethanol production (5 per cent)
  • Refining and upgrading (10 per cent)
  • Upstream oil and gas – combustion only (15 per cent)

There is no widespread carbon price in the plan, but heavy emitters can choose from addition costed compliance options like buying offset credits, earning best performance credits and paying into a technology fund. Specifics on how exactly these performance standards will work will be finalized through the remainder of the year.

Starting Sept. 1, all emitters with more than 10,000 tonnes of CO2 annually will begin reporting emissions to the province, in addition to the federal government. Emitters with more than 25,000 tonnes annually will have to implement the performance standards next year.

NDP environment critic David Forbes said he is concerned this plan leaves Saskatchewan open to the imposition of a federal carbon tax.

“It looks like they’re moving toward a carbon pricing, cap and trade system and it leaves us wide open, still wide open for a federally imposed carbon tax,” Forbes said.

Forbes said he will believes the province will not be submitting this plan for federal assessment because there are too many questions to be answered about how exactly the perfromance standards will work.

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READ MORE: Saskatchewan files constitutional reference case over carbon tax

The province’s plan is receiving approval from industry leaders, like Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) director of climate Patrick McDonald.

“We are pleased to work with the government on this proactive, made-in-Saskatchewan approach to climate change to ensure emissions are reduced in an efficient manner that fosters innovation and ensures the province remains competitive,” McDonald said.

The Saskatchewan government also has a court challenge in place over the threat of a carbon tax being imposed.

A constitutional reference question has been filed with Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal, asking if Ottawa can impose taxes on certain jurisdictions and not others.

READ MORE: Moe, Ford join forces to oppose federal carbon pricing at premiers’ meeting in New Brunswick

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said earlier this summer that Canada’s largest province will be joining that case as an intervener.