Monday, April 16, 2012

Saskatchewan fires back at David Suzuki Foundation report calling the province a "laggard" in climate change

A report released last week by the David Suzuki Foundation praised Saskatchewan for commitments to double wind energy capacity and for plans to improve residential energy efficiency. However, the report also made it clear that Saskatchewan has the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the country. The report went on to note that in recent years, no plans have been made to close the coal-fired generation plants which provide Saskatchewan with nearly 60% of electricity. “It is difficult to imagine any jurisdiction taking the threats of climate change less seriously than Saskatchewan currently does,” the report said.

Saskatchewan's environment minister, Dustin Duncan recently fired back 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.

"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" Minister Duncan noted. Coal-fired power plants are the primary source of energy in Saskatchewan and Minister 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."

The position of the Saskatchewan government seems at odds with proposed Federal regulations would essentially prohibit the construction of new coal-based plants after 2015 unless they include carbon capture and storage equipment to dramatically reduce emissions. Even if Saskatchewan would negotiate an equivalency agreement with the Federal government, the province would still need to essentially comply with these regulations over the longer term SaskPower is currently testing carbon capture and storage technology but as yet it is still not widely adopted and utilized technology. Much is clearly riding on getting CCS working in Saskatchewan.

Sources: The Star Phoenix, The Canadian Press, Government of Saskatchewan Press Releases, David Suzuki Foundation

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