Yukon environment groups want more transparency about carbon emissions
Groups say it’s the only way Yukon will reach its climate goals
Five local environmental groups are urging the Yukon government to be more accountable and transparent when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.
The groups – Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (Yukon Chapter), Yukoners Concerned, Yukon Conservation Society, Raven Recycling and ForTheirFutureYukon – filed a petition that was read in the Legislative Assembly today by NDP MLA Emily Tredger.
The petition asks the territorial government to create a policy that forces "complete analysis of multi-phase GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions" to be conducted by qualified independent third parties on infrastructure and development projects worth more than $500,000. The petition also calls for the results to be made public.
"The idea here is to make sure that we have a clear sense of what the greenhouse gas implications are of decisions around resource and infrastructure projects," said Malkolm Boothroyd, campaigns coordinator at CPAWS Yukon.
In 2019, the Yukon government set a goal of reducing the territory's greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to a level that is 45 per cent lower than they were in 2010.
Peggy Land, a coordinator for the grassroots group ForTheirFutureYukon, said "that's a hugely ambitious goal, especially since emissions have been rising by 24 per cent in the last 10 years."
She added that a rough estimate suggests 20 to 30 per cent of the territory's emissions come from mining.
The petition also calls for the government to put an emissions cap on the mining industry by the end of this year, similar to the cap set by the federal government on the fossil fuels industry.
"So there's no free lunch on this. There's a huge amount of emissions coming from mining and potentially far more," she said.
'Healthy public dialogue'
Boothroyd said it's often difficult to find information on greenhouse gas emissions "from certain industries and certain projects."
"I think that having that information readily available and reported regularly is critical to having a healthy public dialogue around those issues."
He said that if a project is going to be emitting more emissions than fits with the territory's climate targets, "then maybe we shouldn't be approving this project, or making sure that they can go ahead in a way that doesn't create that many gas emissions."
He added that incorporating climate change information into every level of decision-making and knowing what the climate implications are for resource extraction and infrastructure projects is the only way the territory will be able to meet its climate targets.
A spokesperson with the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources said the department would not provide an immediate comment about the petition.
Jesse Devost said the department will provide an official response through the Legislature within eight sitting days.
- An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Jesse Devost.Mar 22, 2022 9:27 AM CT
With files from Jackie Hong