Why we measure this
Greenhouse gases are changing the climate. This will have both local and global effects, from the vegetables in your back yard to ocean acidification.
Saskatchewan's GHG emissions totalled 76.4 million tonnes of CO2e in 2018. 2019 emissions data was released after this report was compiled, and will be updated on this page shortly.
Much of our prosperity comes from the natural world, including agriculture, forestry, ecotourism and other resource-based industries. The success of these industries, and the province, is dependent on a stable climate and a resilient environment.
Saskatchewan's infrastructure was designed to operate within a range defined by historical norms. As the climate changes, we will experience weather outside of that historical norm. When this occurs, there is an increased probability of physical and longer-term risks.
This measure discusses the effects of a changing climate on the province and economy, as well as government programs designed to address the impacts.
What is happening
The climate is affected by the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the air. Globally, the amount of GHGs in the air is rising. Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are now 411 parts per million, 50 per cent more than 200 years ago. Methane levels are now 1,884 parts per billion, 160 per cent more than 200 years ago. The more GHGs in the air, the faster and further the climate will change.
Saskatchewan's GHG emissions in 2018 totaled 76.4 million tonnes. This represents approximately 10 per cent of Canada's emissions, which are approximately two per cent of global emissions. However, our per-person emissions of 65.8 tonnes CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) are among the highest in Canada. Carbon dioxide represents 66 per cent of Saskatchewan's emissions in 2018. Other sources include methane at 23 per cent, nitrous oxide at 10 per cent and fluoridated gases at less than one per cent.
GHG emissions per dollar of gross domestic product (GDP), or the total amount of goods and services produced in an economy, is known as the GHG emission intensity. Saskatchewan's GHG emission intensity dropped 12 per cent after 2005, and was relatively flat from 2011 to 2018.
Saskatchewan's 76.4 million tonnes of CO2e emissions are the fourth highest in the country, after Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Between 2005 and 2018, half of the provinces increased GHG emissions, while the other half reduced GHG emissions.
Due to the province's export-oriented and resource-dependent economy, Saskatchewan has the highest GHG emission intensity of the provinces, at 876 tonnes of CO2e per million dollars of GDP in 2018. Every province had lower GHG emission intensity than in 2005.
The latest research shows Saskatchewan is getting more rain, which may lead to more floods. At the same time, higher temperatures dry the ground faster, deepening the severity of droughts.
Higher temperatures are increasing the length of the growing season. But warmer winters are causing more problems with pests and invasive species. The mountain pine beetle has already destroyed forests in British Columbia and Alberta.
In some parts of the boreal forest, trees may start growing faster because of the longer growing season. Other parts of the boreal forest will naturally burn, and aspen parkland and grassland will grow in their place.
The type of crops and livestock that grow best will change with the climate.
What we are doing
In 2015, at the COP-21 meeting in Paris, 195 countries, including Canada, agreed to reduce their GHG emissions in what is known as the Paris Agreement. Following the Paris Agreement, Premiers and the Prime Minister met in Vancouver, where they signed the Vancouver Declaration in which all provinces agreed to the national goal of reducing GHG emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Following the Vancouver Declaration, Saskatchewan developed Prairie Resilience: A Made-in- Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy, which is available at saskatchewan.ca/climate-change. Prairie Resilience is a strategy that takes a system-wide approach and includes more than 40 commitments designed to make Saskatchewan more resilient to the effects of a changing climate. The commitments – which go beyond emissions reductions alone – span Saskatchewan's natural systems and resources, infrastructure for electricity, transportation, homes and buildings, and community preparedness.
Prairie Resilience focuses the province's efforts on specific industries and activities that could have the greatest impact on provincial GHG emissions.
Electricity generation was first among the industries covered by Prairie Resilience to directly reduce emissions in that sector over time.
SaskPower's current electricity generation plan will see their emissions fall by two-thirds over the next decade.
To reduce GHG emissions, SaskPower will phase out all conventional coal-fired power generation and achieve up to 50 per cent of electricity production capacity from renewable resources by 2030.
SaskPower also pioneered the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology in 2014, which has since been used to capture more than 3.7 million tonnes of CO2. All these efforts are expected to reduce emissions from electricity generation by two-thirds over the next decade.
Prairie Resilience also targets methane emissions in the oil and gas industry. About 60 per cent of GHG emissions in the oil and gas industry come from the disposal of unwanted methane. In 2019, the province introduced the Methane Action Plan, designed to reduce the amount and methods of methane disposal. The plan is expected to reduce methane-related emissions by 40 to 45 per cent by 2025.
Heavy industry and the oil and gas industry are subject to output-based performance standards, also known as the OBPS program. The standards require companies to reduce the emissions intensity of their operations. Upstream oil and gas producers are required to reduce their emissions intensity by 15 per cent, on top of reductions required by methane regulations. Refineries are required to reduce their emission intensity by 10 per cent, while other industrial emitters are required to reduce their emission intensity by five per cent.
Saskatchewan is making efforts to reduce GHG emissions, but climate change requires collective global action. For this reason, the core principle of Prairie Resilience is: resilience – the ability to cope with, adapt to, and recover from stress and change. This is essential, as the effects of climate change are already being experienced.
The province is tracking many initiatives for enhancing resilience, from forest management to culvert expansion, and from crop diversification to monitoring diseases. For a complete list, please refer to Saskatchewan’s 2020 Climate Resilience Report.