Saskatchewan will not meet 2020 GHG emissions target set in 2009
Ministry says new climate change plan supersedes previous commitments
The Government of Saskatchewan is quietly walking away from a decade-old promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent, saying newly-promised cuts found in its Prairie Resilience climate change strategy supersede any prior emissions targets or goals.
The promise, made in 2009, was for a 20 per cent reduction of GHGs by 2020.
"Time for talk is over," said former Environment Minister Nancy Heppner at the time. "Our government is taking real action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
GHGs trap heat in the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. A coalition of scientists recently declared a climate emergency, warning that policy-makers around the world must act.
Sask. has a poor track record, critics say
Critics in this province said the government abandoning its 2020 goal is stark evidence that little progress has been made.
They will do and will keep doing what they've already done, which is next to nothing.- Yens Pedersen
"There is no sense in Saskatchewan at a government level that there is a sense of urgency in this, and I think that is a grave error," said Peter Pebble of the Saskatchewan Environmental Society.
Prebble points to federal data filed with the United Nations that he said shows a steady rise in overall emissions in Saskatchewan over the past decade.
"No policy measures were put in place that would result in emissions reduction," said Prebble.
Yens Pedersen, the Sask. NDP's environment critic, echoes Pebble's disappointment. Pedersen said the province has failed to act, and it is future generations who will pay the price.
"We have a big footprint, compared to our size," he said. "We do have a duty to the next generations that come after us, as well as to the rest of the world to actually get our emissions in check."
The current plan
Current Environment Minister Dustin Duncan was not available for an interview about the missed 2020 deadline. The ministry forwarded details of its current strategy, which it said will "reduce emissions and will also make Saskatchewan more resilient to the climatic, economic and policy impacts of climate change."
Regardless, Pedersen said there is reason to be skeptical of the provincial government's commitment to reaching the goals set out in its current plan.
"They will do and will keep doing what they've already done," he said, "Which is next to nothing."