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N.W.T. gov't calls for input on new climate change strategy

The N.W.T. government's new strategy to combat climate change comes with a list of 70 actions to mitigate its destructive impact.

Move comes after auditor general gives Environment and Natural Resources failing grade on climate change file

The N.W.T. government wants public input on a new strategy to combat the effects of climate change. Here, broken sea ice emerges from under the hull of the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica as it sails through the Victoria Strait while traversing the Arctic's Northwest Passage. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

The territorial government is asking for public input on a draft of its strategy for dealing with climate change.

The report lists three main goals: adapting to the changing climate, using fewer fossil fuels and improving knowledge of climate change impacts.  

Craig Scott, executive director of Ecology North, said the report covers a lot of bases, but he sees a few things that were not addressed, specifically, the impact of mining.

"If a new mine comes on board, it could take us well over our potential goals," he said.

Craig Scott, executive director of Ecology North, says N.W.T. government should consider mining in climate change strategy. (Ecology North)

"What happens when our government is encouraging industrial development or building roads to encourage new mines, or oil and gas infrastructure?"

The report also includes 70 actions to help the territory cope with the effects of climate change.

"What I see is a good starting point," said Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo.

Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo, calls the strategy a 'good start.'

"The next step is to take this large list ... and narrow it down."

Feltmate said a list of five to 10 actions would be a good place to start, because these actions are "not so simple when you go to operationalize the program and make it happen."

For example, the report suggests implementing the FireSmart program throughout communities in the territory. FireSmart is a set of preventative measures to help communities avoid damage from wildfires. The program is already established, but Feltmate said it's an issue of implementation.

"Who will take control of operationalizing it?"

This report was released after the territorial government was audited by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada in October.

One of the recommendations in the report was that the territorial government come up with a climate change strategy. The auditor general's office will not comment on the territorial government's plans.

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