Sask. leads country in per capita greenhouse gas emissions

Saskatchewan's greenhouse gas emissions are among the worst in the country per capita, up 10 per cent since 2005.

Provincial environment minister says climate plan needs time to work

Environment Minister Warren Kaeding says Prairie Resilience needs time. The plan launched in 2017. (Government of Saskatchewan)

Saskatchewan leads the country in greenhouse gas emissions per capita,  according to a new report published this week by Environment and Climate Change Canada, a dubious distinction provincial Environment Minister Warren Kaeding says is due to an economy heavily based on resources, manufacturing and exports.

"We don't have a lot of people in a province that produces a significant amount of goods and services that are exported or sent out of the province," he said.

Saskatchewan's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions decreased by one megatonne from 2018 to 2019, but they've remained at relatively similar levels from 2014 to 2019, the last year measured in the report.

In those years, levels were consistently between 74 and 76 megatonnes. Since 2005, Saskatchewan's emissions have risen about 10 per cent, making it one of the five provinces who have not reduced GHGs in that time. The others are Newfoundland and Labrador; Manitoba, Alberta and B.C. 

Canada is aiming to reduce emissions by 32 to 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which means a reduction from 739 megatonnes of carbon dioxide in 2005 to, at worst, 502 megatonnes in 2030. So far, the country GHGs are almost flat during that time, down 1.1 per cent.

Kaeding said the province's climate change plan, Prairie Resilience, will need time to see results. He said SaskPower's goal to reach 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 will cut into emissions.

"I believe electricity generation in the province represents 20 per cent of the total emissions that we have in the province," Kaeding said. 

"So literally doubling the amount of renewable energy production within the next nine years is going to make a significant dent in our emissions."

Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said the government has taken "zero action" on reducing emissions. He said climate change is a world crisis and increased economic activity is not a good enough reason to have emission levels remain high.

Tuesday afternoon, Premier Scott Moe addressed a U.S. Republican environment and climate change congressional committee and discussed his support for the Keystone XL pipeline project.

In January, U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the permit for the cross-border project.

With files from Adam Hunter and John Paul Tasker


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