Saskatchewan

'This will be hard': environmentalists skeptical about Regina's renewable energy goals

A Regina-based group of environmentalists is praising the City of Regina's decision to remove a climate skeptic from an environmental sustainability conference later this year. But, they are skeptical about the viability of the city's long-term goals.

Group wants City of Regina to follow through on goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050

Laura Stewart, of the EnviroCollective, speaks in Regina on Feb. 10 2020. (CBC News)

A Regina-based group of environmentalists is praising the City of Regina's decision to remove a climate skeptic from an environmental sustainability conference later this year.

Patrick Moore — who disputes the link between man-made carbon emissions and climate change — agreed to speak in May at the city's Reimagine Conference 2020: Roadmap to Sustainable Cities, for $10,000.

"We are happy to hear that the city's Reimagine Conference will not be a debate about climate change," said Laura Stewart of the EnviroCollective, on Monday in Regina.

Moore has a PhD in ecology from the University of British Columbia. He is a not an environmental scientist but chairs a group  that says rising CO2 emissions "will be of great benefit to life on earth."

Moore also claims human-caused emissions are not responsible for climate change.

"He was not coming as a Regina citizen wanting to raise opinions from this community," Stewart said. "He was selected to come and speak at this community about one particular perspective."

Stewart said the group held its own strategy meeting after concerns were raised about the conference's agenda. The city has made a previous commitment to making Regina 100 per cent renewable by 2050.

Stewart said that is no longer the case and accused the city of a "full-scale retreat" away from that commitment as it moves back to conducting "business as usual," instead focusing on efficiencies.

"This will be hard. The longer we leave it, the harder it will get," Stewart said of the sustainability goal.

The City of Regina said in an emailed statement that it "remains committed to developing a framework that will outline the steps and implications to achieving 100 percent renewable fleet, operations, and facilities by 2050."

Addressing the Reimagine Conference, the city said that there will be a variety of presentations on technology and resources which could be useful in the city's framework.

"As part of this framework, Administration will provide at least four new and concrete actions for improving the environmental sustainability of the City of Regina that could be considered by Council and implemented by the end of 2023," the statement said.

Environmentalists welcome conversation

The group's proposal would see the city move forward with its plan to reach 100 per cent renewable energy while minimizing distractions, Stewart said.

Stewart said the group would love to hear concerns about sustainability and what that could look like for the energy sector. She said her group welcomes a conversation about the challenges that industry may face and how they could be addressed going forward.

EnviroCollective is a grassroots group with "fluid membership," Stewart said. She estimates that there were about 46 people at Monday's meeting.

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