Prairie Resilience: A Made-in-Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy
Saskatchewan’s comprehensive climate change strategy is designed to make Saskatchewan more resilient to the climatic, economic and policy impacts of climate change.
The strategy, titled Prairie Resilience: A Made-in-Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy, focuses on the principles of readiness and resilience to support the province and its people, curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and prepare for changing conditions – such as extreme weather, drought or wildfire – without a tax.
The strategy proposes actions in key areas, including:
- natural systems;
- physical infrastructure;
- economic sustainability;
- community preparedness; and
- measuring, monitoring and reporting.
“Our climate change strategy is about protecting our people and communities as much as it is about working with industry and others to reduce emissions here in Saskatchewan. This plan is broader and bolder than a single policy such as carbon tax, and will achieve better and more meaningful outcomes over the long term.”
- Environment Minister Dustin Duncan
Progress and Next Steps
Since releasing Prairie Resilience in December 2017, government has achieved several milestones in moving from strategy to action:
Next steps include the development of resilience measures and targets, further legislative amendments, and new sector-specific regulations for emissions reporting, performance standards and compliance options. These steps work towards implementation of the provincial climate change strategy on January 1, 2019.
- Government proclaimed portions of The Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Act, which enable reporting, verification and compliance powers, and will enable drafting of new regulations and standards to further support Saskatchewan’s comprehensive approach to climate change.
- The proclamation included The Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases (General and Electricity Producer) Regulations, which took effect January 1, 2018 and are the next step in an equivalency agreement for provincial coal-fired emissions regulation. Read the news release.
- During February and March 2018, provincial officials engaged with industry and others to seek input on the development of specific regulatory approaches. Read the engagement report.
- The Government passed The Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases (General and Reporting) Regulations which, along with its associated Standard, ensure that facilities emitting over 10,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas annually report to the province. Read the Regulations. Read the Standard.
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About climate change
Climate change is a long-term shift in temperature and weather patterns. Since the industrial age, the burning of fossil fuels has resulted in increased concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in our atmosphere. These emissions are some of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contribute to increasing global temperatures.
Countries are coming together to recognize that human activity and industry contribute to an increasing concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere and are adopting various strategies to deal with the implications of climate change.
Saskatchewan acknowledges the science-based reality of climate change and joined other provinces and the Government of Canada at the Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP 21) in Paris in December 2015. An international agreement involving 195 countries was struck with a plan to limit climate-related increases in temperature to two degrees Celsius through continued GHG reductions. Canada’s stated goal is to reduce GHG emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Our province's GHG emissions were 75 million tonnes in 2015, according to Canada's National Inventory Report 2017 - a reduction of 0.7 per cent from 2014. This represents approximately 10 per cent of Canada's emissions, which are approximately two per cent of global emissions.
Saskatchewan's climate change approach
Saskatchewan's White Paper on Climate Change, released October 2016, outlined the principles of the province's approach to climate change, including a focus on both mitigation and adaptation in response to the challenges by a changing climate.
This white paper emphasized that effective approaches to GHG mitigation stem from technological innovation. Further, efforts must be made to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Taken together, both approaches form a practical long-term strategy for managing this issue and balancing environmental and economic goals.
Following the White Paper, Saskatchewan developed its own plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while minimizing costs to industry and households, titled Prairie Resilience: A Made-in-Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy. Our resilience and readiness-based strategy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions more effectively than a carbon tax, while addressing the complex challenges presented by a changing climate.
Saskatchewan is already expanding the use of renewable energy sources, investing in innovative technologies such as carbon capture and storage, and making good decisions in the management of our forests, fields and waterways.
- Saskatchewan is working on reducing its GHG emissions. SaskPower deployed carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at its Boundary Dam Power Station south of Estevan, which is designed to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of power production by up to a million tonnes annually. Since it began operations in October 2014, the process has captured more than 1.5 million tonnes of CO2; that’s the equivalent of 350,000 vehicles taken off Saskatchewan roads. This technology can be applied to other countries, such as China and India, which are heavily dependent upon coal-fired electricity generation. Thousands of coal plants are in development around the world, and dozens of countries are evaluating various CCS technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of their power production.
- SaskPower has also committed to increasing its target for renewable-energy generation capacity from 25 per cent to 50 per cent by 2030. This will reduce GHG emissions by approximately 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This ambitious goal will be achieved by a major expansion in wind power, augmented by other renewable-energy sources (i.e., solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro, and demand-side management) along with a greater emphasis on natural-gas generation as the cleanest burning fossil fuel. Although our footprint is relatively small, at 0.2 per cent of world emissions, we have chosen to be leaders in one of the main GHG abatement technologies used to address this problem.
- Work is also being done to explore how reductions in GHGs might be achieved in the oil and gas industry, another large contributor to Saskatchewan’s GHG emissions. Finding a balance between substantive reductions and the viability of industries that are critical to the wellbeing of Saskatchewan residents remains a priority.
- The capacity of the province to absorb carbon, through agriculture and forest land management practices or by other means, plays an important part in balancing GHG-emitting activities. Understanding ways in which carbon can be stored, and encouraging those practices, is key to successful carbon reduction goals.
- Finally, given the small amount of GHG emissions Saskatchewan produces relative to the world, adaptive measures are also necessary to prepare for changing climatic conditions. Taking action to improve infrastructure in the event of more severe floods, fires and other climatic extremes is critical.