Sask. environmental group pushes for change as premier pans federal oil, gas emissions cap plan

November 10, 2021
Sask. environmental group pushes for change as premier pans federal oil, gas emissions cap plan
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A Saskatchewan environmental group is calling on the provincial government to think bigger when it comes to cutting emissions, as the United Nations COP26 climate change summit continues for its second week. 

“If Saskatchewan were a country, we would have the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world,” a report from the Saskatchewan Environmental Society says.

The province now has higher annual greenhouse gas emissions than northern European countries with much larger populations such as Finland, Sweden and Norway, the report says.

The environmental organization says it is concerned that Saskatchewan doesn’t have a plan for deeper emissions cuts, and released 25 recommendations for the provincial government to consider on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Premier Scott Moe blasted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s performance and proposals at COP26, a sign that the two are still at odds over climate policy and the way forward. 

In a video posted to Twitter on Sunday, he criticized Trudeau and other government officials of hypocrisy for flying to the conference in Scotland “to lecture the rest of us about how we should change our behaviour.”

At the climate conference last week, Trudeau announced that Canada will impose a hard cap on emissions from the oil and gas sector — a plan Moe told reporters Tuesday his government was not consulted on.

“It’s going to increase the price of of gasoline for all Canadians for a long time, and it’s going to increase emissions worldwide,” Moe said. 

Steven Guilbeault, the federal environment minister, “did not so much as give a phone call to our environment ministers to say, ‘We’re thinking about this policy. We know it will have an impact on 30,000 families in Saskatchewan. What are your thoughts on it?'” Moe said.

“That call was never made. That is not a way to run a nation.”

No new natural gas power stations: SES

In a news release announcing its 25 recommendations, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society said provincial action is needed to curb emissions, and “it can’t be left to Ottawa alone to provide leadership.”

Saskatchewan’s 2017 Prairie Resilience climate change plan included measures that “were a step forward, but they are insufficient in the face of the climate emergency the world faces,” the group’s report says.

“Today they fall far short of what is needed for Saskatchewan to do its ‘fair share’ in helping Canada meet its emission reduction obligations to the United Nations.”

Peter Prebble, a board member with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, said among many things, the province should not build any new natural gas power stations.

“If we want carbon neutrality in Saskatchewan by 2050, we need to have a carbon-neutral grid by 2035 to 2040,” he said during a news conference Tuesday.

Investing in more solar power, reopening talks with Manitoba about importing hydro power and working with the federal government to ship more goods by rail are all things the society said could help. 

Prebble did say that oil and gas emissions have gone down in recent years, but said that was largely due to federal government policies.


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