North

Yes to Paris Agreement, no to carbon tax, say Nunavut leaders

Nunavut leaders say they're happy Canada has ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change, but they're not on board with all of the federal government's plans for tackling greenhouse gas emissions.

Nunavut premier says the emphasis should be on modernizing diesel generators

Fuel storage tanks in Clyde River. "We look forward to having our federal partners assist us in that when it comes to adaptability," says Nunavut premier Peter Taptuna. (Peter Ewins/WWF-Canada)

Nunavut leaders say they're happy Canada has ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change, but they're not on board with all of the federal government's plans for tackling greenhouse gas emissions.

"We contribute very little to the greenhouse gas emissions," says Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna. "It's 0.1 per cent of the emissions of the nation."

'We contribute very little to the greenhouse gas emissions,' says Taptuna. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

Taptuna says Nunavut doesn't need taxes to lower emissions, adding that the territory wants no part in the Prime Minister's carbon tax plan, announced on Monday.

What it needs, he says, is assistance in modernizing its diesel generators.

The Paris Agreement's opens doors for that kind of climate adaptation assistance with a $100 billion green fund, says Taptuna.

Taptuna has high hopes of tapping into green funds available through the Paris Agreement to help with Nunavut's infrastructure needs. (Peter Ewins/WWF-Canada)

"We look forward to having our federal partners assist us in that when it comes to adaptability."

Shift from just economy

'There's still politics being played to minimize the role that Indigenous representative organizations play,' says ITK president Natan Obed. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

Canada's Inuit organization agrees with Taptuna, saying that a tax on carbon would have serious implications for Inuit struggling with fragile economies and the high cost of living.

"There's concerns about implementing policies or levies for carbon pricing when we don't have the infrastructure," says Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

"The overarching concern that Inuit have is our full participation in the decision making about Canada's actions in relation to climate change," he adds.

Obed says some provinces seem to be pushing the federal government to keep Indigenous organizations on the sidelines.

"At this point in time it seems as though there's still politics being played to minimize the role that Indigenous representative organizations play within this larger discussion," he says.

New incentive for renewable energy

'We know that we can move to renewables in an economic way,' says Paul Crowley the director of WWF-Canada's Arctic Program. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

The director of WWF-Canada's Arctic Program says he's hopeful that the Paris Agreement "lays the foundation for even deeper decarbonization."

Paul Crowley says the answer for Canada's remote Arctic communities is investment in habitat-friendly renewable energy.

"We know that we can move to renewables in an economic way," he adds.

He admits that a carbon tax will mean higher costs for some things in a region plagued by poverty. But he's not averse to the idea, saying it can also generate new funds.

"I hope that it is at the very least revenue neutral and allows us as territories to put our money towards investments that are better for the environment and moves us quickly to the path of renewable energy."

About the Author

Sima Sahar Zerehi

Sima Sahar Zerehi is a reporter with CBC North. She started her career in journalism with the ethnic press working for a Canadian-based Farsi language newspaper. Her CBC journey began as a regular commentator with CBC radio's Metro Morning. Since then she's worked with CBC in Montreal, Toronto and now Iqaluit.