Premiers want to ensure local jurisdiction respected when it comes to climate change decisions

Click to play video: 'Premiers address energy and national unity in Saskatoon'
Premiers address energy and national unity in Saskatoon
WATCH ABOVE: Premiers address energy and national unity in Saskatoon – Jul 11, 2019

Canada’s premiers are calling on the federal government to give provinces “full credit” for emission reductions in their respective jurisdictions and put forward “sufficient” funding for local adaptation and mitigation projects.

This comes on the second day of the annual Council of the Federation (COF) meeting, where the premiers are gathering in Saskatoon.

The joint statement acknowledges climate change as a global threat that has immediate and long-lasting impacts on the environment, public health and safety.

“We live in a part of the world where we see, daily, the effects of climate change so we have to adapt to it,” Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod said.

“Some of the changes are so significant we see it as an important job for us to educate people in the south that their actions are having a big effect on us.”

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READ MORE: Quebec energy, health care, cannabis on agenda for final day of annual premiers gathering

Among their calls to the federal government is a request by the premiers to be able to make decisions in their own jurisdictions on how best to address climate change in a way that reflects each jurisdiction’s “distinct needs and priorities.”

This is a key argument in Saskatchewan’s Supreme Court case against the federal carbon tax. When the case was before Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal, the province argued that Ottawa was intruding on provincial jurisdiction.

Both the top courts in Saskatchewan and Ontario issued split decisions in favour of Ottawa having the constitutional power to set a minimum national price on emissions.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and his government continue to argue the federal carbon price unfairly hinders key industries like energy and agriculture.

READ MORE: Canada would miss Paris Agreement targets under Conservative climate plan: report

The federal carbon price is shaping up to be a key issue in October’s federal election, with the Conservatives saying they would repeal the Liberal policy.

“Every jurisdiction, everybody who wants to run for political parties right across this nation — they better have a succinct plan for the climate change,” Yukon Premier Sandy Silver said.

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“It’s real, and the voting public will be deciding. This is a hot-button issue, and every region and every territory, every province, needs to have a comprehensive plan.”

In a statement, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s press secretary, Sabrina Kim, said the federal carbon pricing system allows provinces and territories the option of developing their own plan. However, provinces and territories must meet the minimum price backstop; currently $20 per tonne and climbing to $50 per tonne in 2022.

“Unlike certain Conservative politicians like Andrew Scheer, many provinces know that putting a price on pollution is an effective way to fight climate change. We are confident that the federal government’s approach to pricing carbon pollution is constitutional, as was confirmed by two appellate courts,” Kim said.

READ MORE: Oil pipelines remain contentious as more provinces opposed to federal carbon tax

With natural disasters like wildfires and floods becoming more frequent, the premiers are calling on increased federal support when addressing these issues.

In addition to climate change, the northern premiers are calling on the federal government to help develop a 10-year economic action plan to strengthen northern prosperity, McLeod said.

As Arctic ice melts, McLeod said, he hopes to see the region become a global transportation hub, saying that increasing the ability to ship goods through the Arctic by air and sea could shave upwards of 20 days off Europea- and Asia-bound voyages.


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