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Suzuki climate change report: Saskatchewan fires back

Saskatchewan’s environment minister is fuming about a report that says the province isn't taking climate change seriously.


April 13, 2012
by CANADIAN PRESS

REGINA: Saskatchewan’s environment minister is fuming about a report that says the province isn’t taking climate change seriously.

Dustin Duncan said that he’s disappointed that the David Suzuki Foundation released the report without talking to the province about what it’s doing to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“It is an issue that we are taking seriously, despite what the Suzuki Foundation believes,” said Duncan.

“We are making significant investments in technology like carbon capture and sequestration which has been recognized as leading technology when it comes to reducing emissions, while still providing jobs for people that work in the coal and in the power industry.”

The report notes that Saskatchewan has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. It criticizes the province for not having a plan to end its reliance on coal-fired power plants.

Coal-fired power plants are the primary source of energy in Saskatchewan and Duncan said there’s no plan to get rid of them.

“The Suzuki Foundation has taken a position, and it’s fair enough for them to take it, but they seemingly have taken a position that we need to move away from the coal industry,” said Duncan.

“And that’s a position that we just fundamentally disagree with as a government.
It’s important to the people that rely on that industry for their employment. We have significant coal reserves and we’re pretty confident that we have a technology that can make coal a resource that we can use in the future in a cleaner way.”

Carbon capture and storage has been touted as a high-tech way to help with the world’s carbon problems, but has been panned as expensive and unproven. Critics say not enough is known about the consequences of burying carbon dioxide.

SaskPower is testing carbon capture technology.

The report criticizes the province for eliminating its Climate Change Secretariat and its Office of Energy Conservation. Duncan said the secretariat was announced by the previous NDP government but never created.

The report also says Saskatchewan has taken several steps backward on climate change since 2008, and although new regulations have been proposed, these policies are too weak to achieve the current provincial climate change goal.

“We have a lot of catch up to do, but we are doing significant work,” said Duncan.

“We have legislation that is in place. We are currently working on our regulations, while being mindful that we have a strong economy and we want to see that continue.”

© 2012 The Canadian Press