Protesters rally in Regina, Saskatoon ahead of Paris climate change talks

As Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall heads to this year's climate conference in Paris, citizens in Saskatoon and Regina are rallying for tougher action on climate change.

Citizens seek decisive, quick action on climate change

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      As Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall heads to this year's climate conference in Paris, citizens in Saskatoon and Regina are rallying to push Wall and his cohort to get tougher on climate change action. 

      "I think Brad Wall has made some pretty bold statements about where Saskatchewan stands on climate that aren't consistent with what people working on this rally believe," Tracey Mitchell said. "And that's a pretty broad group of people."

      Mitchell is one of the organizers of the rally in Saskatoon. 

      We think there's a lot of people out of there that don't agree with the position Brad Wall is putting out there.- Tracey Mitchell

      She said people putting the rally together include members from the Catholic church, other faith communities, indigenous communities, environment groups, and other social justice organizations.

      "We think there's a lot of people out of there that don't agree with the position Brad Wall is putting out there for Paris, and we want to see it change," she said. 

      In the lead-up to the United Nations climate talks that start Monday, dubbed COP 21, Wall issued a statement outlining what he'll be pushing for at the international conference.

      "As Canada presents its position at COP 21 in Paris, Saskatchewan will offer a reminder that while Canada produces about two per cent of worldwide emissions, there are approximately 1,000 new high-emitting coal plants around the world in various stages of planning and construction," his emailed statement read.

      "If Canada is serious about the issue, we must focus on opportunities to create new technologies for emerging economies who intend on burning coal, even as we do more at home to reduce GHG emissions," Wall said. He touted SaskPower's carbon capture storage (CCS) technology as one such option.

      UN Climate Secretariat issues report ahead of Paris meetings

      In a report issued by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Sunday morning, it says CCS "offer the potential to capture emissions from the power sector" and reduce green house gas emissions from industries with heavy emissions.

      Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, left, speaks during a First Ministers meeting at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa earlier this month. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

      "Prime Minister Trudeau's announcement yesterday of support for developing countries who wish to engage on climate change can be an important step forward in sharing technologies like our CCS technology, thereby creating opportunities at home," Wall said.

      The United Nations report described CCS as "another element of the transition to a low emissions future" alongside others.

      Of the Boundary Dam Project near Estevan, the report stated that it's "the world's first power station with large-scale post-combustion capture."

      The report makes the case the technology could help reduce green house gas emissions in chemical, steel and cement production, and agricultural processing.

      It also argues that the technology "can assist countries that currently heavily rely on fossil fuels to make the transition to low-emission fuel sources while limiting the disruption to the local economy and employment."

      But not everyone agrees with the benefits of CCS. Mitchell noted that she's heard many concerns about the provincial government's carbon capture and storage plans and other similar measures. "We don't see [that] as real climate action."

      She said the province needs to take firm, quick action "if we're going to prevent serious climate crisis."

      Saskatoon's rally was held at 1 p.m. CST, starting in front of the Vimy Memorial in Kiwanis Park.

      In Regina, rally organizers began their protest at 12 p.m. in front of City Hall.

      With files from CBC's Victoria Dinh and Stefani Langenegger


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