The Problem with Greenhouse Gas
Gases in the atmosphere help regulate the Earth's temperature. Like the glass of a greenhouse, they let sunlight in and keep heat from escaping. A certain amount of these gases is necessary to maintain the conditions for life as we know it. But modern human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels for heat and electricity and transportation, have been releasing more greenhouse gases (GHGs) than ever before, warming the Earth at a significant rate.
Our province relies on coal and natural gas for electricity and our economy has a significant energy (oil and gas) sector. That's a major reason why Saskatchewan has the highest per capita emission of greenhouse gases in Canada.
Climate Change in Saskatchewan
Climate change has many potential impacts to our economy, environment and our overall quality of life:
- More frequent and severe droughts, floods, tornadoes, hailstorms, dust storms, insect infestations and forest fires.
- Lower water levels in our rivers and lakes, with more dangerous flooding in other areas.
- Rapidly changing ecosystems, with the loss of many plant and animal species.
Government and industry are taking action to reduce GHG emissions
SaskPower is the province's electrical utility and is the province's largest GHG emitter. SaskPower's new Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage project captured 400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in its first year of operation and is a major investment in renewable energy sources. Also, up to half SaskPower's generation capacity will come from renewable sources by 2030.
Take action at home
If we all do our part, we can make a meaningful difference. You can take action, both within your home and while you are travelling.
- Install an energy-efficient furnace, air conditioner, water heater and appliances and improve doors, windows, seals and insulation. You'll reduce your GHG emissions and your monthly bills.
- Use a programmable thermostat. Lower the temperature at night or when you are away, and lower the temperature on your hot water heater.
- You can recycle much more than paper, glass, tin and plastic. Paint, tires, used oil, electronics, fluorescent bulbs and chemicals are all recyclable.
- Did you know 40 per cent of all electricity used to power electronics is consumed when the products are turned off? Unplug your cell and laptop chargers when you're not using them. Plug your computer, TV and home entertainment centre into a power bar you can time or switch off so they won't use power when you're sleeping or at work.
- Install dimmers (it's smart AND romantic) and remember to switch lights off when you're not in the room.
Take action on the road
The transportation sector accounts for 14 per cent of Saskatchewan's GHG emissions. Different transportation needs require different solutions for carbon reduction.
Saskatchewan has a number of options and recommendations to help people reduce their personal carbon footprint.
- Don't idle your car while you're waiting to pick someone up or when you park to run an errand – or for more than a few minutes before you drive in the winter. A vehicle idling for 10 minutes a day uses more than 100 litres of fuel in a year.
- The Idle Free Zone Program encourage staff, clients and visitors at schools, health facilities, municipal offices, community and recreation centres and government offices to turn off their vehicles when not driving. This simple act saves gas and money, and reduces GHG emissions.
- Invest in a fuel-efficient car, keep your tire pressure up and, better yet, drive less. Carpool, hop the bus, walk and bike more.
- Regina Car Share Cooperative and Saskatoon Car Share Co-operative provide convenient and affordable alternatives to owning a car. Car sharing gives you access to vehicles when you need them, without the responsibilities of ownership.
- City Bus Schedules – check with your local municipality for city bus schedules.
- Biking – Not only will cycling reduce your carbon footprint, it's also good for your health. The Saskatchewan Cycling Association provides information and advice on commuting by bicycle. It also provides links to local cycling clubs around Saskatchewan.
- Invite your family and friends to make these changes with you. It all adds up.