Feds promise $23M to fight greenhouse gases in N.W.T.

'Climate change is a real thing in the Northwest Territories and it’s a real challenge for us,' said the territory's Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Wally Schumann, as he celebrated the announcement.

Money will be used to retrofit public housing and a grant program to fund community projects

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced on Thursday that the federal government would be spending $23 million on projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Northwest Territories. It's a move celebrated by N.W.T. Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Wally Schumann. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

Federal and territorial officials decried climate change's ongoing effects on the North on Thursday, as they celebrated a $23 million funding announcement for greenhouse gas reduction projects in the Northwest Territories. 

"If we don't get this right and tackle climate change it's going to be very hard to have an economy," said federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna at the Legislative Assembly of the N.W.T. 

"We know in the North the rate of warming is a lot quicker ... this has real impacts, not just on the land but also on people's lives."

McKenna added the funding will be doled out over the next four years.

'We didn't get out of the stone age because we ran out of stones,' McKenna said. (Katie Toth/CBC)

"Climate change is a real thing in the Northwest Territories and it's a real challenge for us," said N.W.T. Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Wally Schumann. 

A background document released by the territorial government notes the money will be used to retrofit public housing, upgrade three boats owned by the government to make them more fuel-efficient, fund reforestation projects in the territory, and increase the budget of the Arctic Energy Alliance. 

McKenna said the funding would result in more northern jobs, adding that every dollar spent on energy efficiency generates between $4 and $8 of gross domestic product, and that over 100,000 Canadians are employed in energy efficiency-related jobs. 

"[The Northwest Territories] is also a harsh climate so if we can figure out solutions about how to build better here, these are solutions we can share with the world," she added.

The money will also go to an application-based grant program for governments in the territory. Communities will be able to get up to 75 per cent in funding to cover the costs of selected projects. 

Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Wally Schumann said the funding is good news. (Katie Toth/CBC)

In addition to the federal money, the N.W.T. government is investing $7.4 million to support programs, which the government of Canada states will help families and businesses make environmentally friendly changes that benefit the economy and the environment. 

In April 2018, the N.W.T. government announced a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the territory by 517 kilotons. If the programs are used to the fullest, the agreement will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 kilotons — roughly six per cent of territory's reductions target.

Minister Schumann said a "slew" of other projects would need to be used together to hit the target, pointing to his efforts to secure federal funding for the proposed Taltson hydroelectric expansion project

McKenna confirmed that the topic of Taltson was raised during a discussion on Thursday about opportunities to do big projects.