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Climate change mitigation plans called inadequate

The Pasloski government must do more to combat climate change, says the NDP environment critic, in light of a report on climate change in the Yukon released in February.

By Sidney Cohen on April 14, 2016

The Pasloski government must do more to combat climate change, says the NDP environment critic, in light of a report on climate change in the Yukon released in February.

According to the Yukon Climate Change Indicators and Key Factors report authored by John Streicker at Yukon College, the territory’s average annual temperature rose by two degrees in the last 50 years.

That means the territory is warming at twice the rate of the rest of Canada.

Effects of rising temperatures in the North include increasingly severe weather, greater risk of floods and forest fires, infestations of insects and other invasive species and biodiversity loss.

These impacts also pose a significant threat to First Nations’ food security and cultural identity as the movements of fish and game animals change, impacting local economies and the abundance of traditional food.

“We understand that climate change is very real, and we all have a role to play in combating it,” Kate White, the NDP’s environment critic, said in a recent interview.

“The current government talks about adapting to climate change but they never talk about their specific response to it, to mitigating climate change.”

For starters, White said, she wants to see a territorial shift toward renewable energy.

“Looking at developing oil and gas is wrongheaded,” she said.

“Developing a renewable energy economy, develops local economies .... One of the things that would be fantastic is if we stopped heating houses with diesel.”

White said she sees “tons of potential” in biomass energy in the Yukon.

Biomass refers to material from living or decaying plants and trees.

Canada’s forests are abundant with biomass – bark, branches, leaves, trunks, needles, etc. – which can be burned or converted into liquid or gaseous biofuels, as an alternative to fossil fuels.

“Bioenergy” generated through burning wood chips is gaining interest as a viable, renewable energy source in the Yukon.

Indeed, the government announced a move toward biomass energy for generating heat in the Yukon in February as part of the Yukon Biomass Energy Strategy.

“Using biomass is a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable solution for heating in the territory,” Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Scott Kent said in a Feb. 18 press release.

“The Yukon Biomass Energy Strategy will also create good opportunities for investment in Yukon.”

He has been unavailable to the Star for further comment on the report.

According to the release, the Whitehorse Correctional Centre has been heated using biomass for four heating seasons, and Dawson City’s wastewater treatment facility is heated using a biofuel generator.

Stephen Roddick is the adaptation and outreach co-ordinator with the Yukon government’s Climate Change Secretariat, which develops the government’s climate change policy.

Streicker’s climate change report, “gives us a baseline of information that Yukon can use to better monitor climate change ... so we can continuously improve our efforts to enhance our adaptive capacity to make Yukon more resilient,” said Roddick.

“I can’t speak for Mr. Wade Istchenko (the Yukon’s environment minister), but as a study funded by the Government of Yukon, we’re pretty pleased with research and findings in the report,” Roddick said.

Roddick pointed to the the 2009-2015 Climate Change Action Plan, which outlined the government’s goals to enhance understanding and adapt to climate change, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the plan, one way the government is working to mitigate the effects of climate change is by reducing emissions of methane, black carbon (which comes from smoke) and other “short-lived climate pollutants.”

It’s doing this by offering rebates to homeowners for improving the energy efficiency of their homes and for building new energy-efficient homes.

The climate change report also highlights the adverse effects of rising temperatures will have on the Yukon’s First Nations communities.

“For Yukon First Nations, the effects of climate change on wildlife and food security are the two biggest concerns,” the report says.

“Many Yukoners, especially First Nations, depend on hunting, fishing, and gathering, not only for traditional food and to support the local economy, but also as the basis for cultural and social identity.”

The report points out that “Yukoners have been consuming fewer traditional foods and more market foods due to the effects of climate change, which may have negative health consequences.”

Roddick said policy makers continue to engage with First Nations communities and collaborate with the Council of Yukon First Nations.

“We have heard that there is concern about impacts of climate change on wildlife,” said Roddick.

“Food security is a complex issue and climate change is just one piece of that.”

White noted that, “There are tons of people in the territory who hunt and fish with a purpose, as opposed to a pastime.”

Liberal Leader Sandy Silver declined to comment on the report because Streicker is running as a Liberal candidate in the upcoming territorial election.

Comments (14)

Up 33 Down 83

Just Say'in on Apr 18, 2016 at 1:35 pm

There is no place on the planet that has as high a percentage of green energy as we do. We are almost entirely powered by Hydro which is the greenest most reliable form of green energy available. Unlike wind that virtually never works in the winter due to icing up and breakdowns that can't be repaired until they get a huge crane from Alberta in the summer and drag it to the top of the mountain to do the repairs. When the wind turbines do run in the summer they put power into a grid that is already full, as we do not use all of our Hydro capacity as it is. So water is dumped from the dam in response. What a waste of taxpayers money.

Up 35 Down 87

north_of_60 on Apr 18, 2016 at 12:23 pm

When a left-wing politician who is running in the next election compiles a study claiming the average temperature in the Yukon has increased by 2 degrees in the past 50 years, then one might be reasonably skeptical and question the objectivity. Reading the study reveals that this claim is based on global computer models, not actual temperature data from the Yukon.

For a more objective opinion one can examine Environment Canada temperature data available online for weather stations in the Yukon. For example, data for Whitehorse recorded since 1943 show the change in average annual temperature is less than 1°C in 50 years. [0.02°C per year] Average winter temperatures have increased by about 3°C in 50 years, however average Spring, Summer and Fall temperatures show negligible change. The measured temperature change is less than half the change claimed by the computer models cited in the study. Computer model simulations are nothing more than semi-educated guesses if they're not validated with real world ground truth.

This region was even warmer 8000 years ago during the Holocene Optimum. The rate and amount of warming we're experiencing now is within the range of historical natural variation.

However if you want to believe that the fossil fuels we burn in the Yukon has made our temperature 2 degrees warmer in 50 years go right ahead and believe whatever fantasy makes you happy. Some people need faith-based beliefs to justify their lives since science only confuses them.

Up 41 Down 100

mememine69 on Apr 17, 2016 at 2:05 pm

How do you fear mongering climate blame "believers" sleep at night!
If 35 years of climate science being "99%" certain a CO2 hell is real, is good enough for you to condemn your own children then YOU are the Y2K joke in history and the new fear mongering neocon!
*Note; Even Occupy no longer mentions CO2 in it's list of demand because they know 35 MORE years of debate and climate action failure is certain and unstoppable.

Were the climate blame gods you exaggerated also only 99% real, smoking causes cancer and the planet isn't flat?

Up 255 Down 444

north_of_60 on Apr 15, 2016 at 2:11 pm

Max is correct. A titular position at YukU is used to bask in the limelight and flog a political career. While "Research" implies application of the scientific method to critically, skeptically, and objectively evaluate ALL hypotheses, at YukU it's merely the Department of Greenwashed Propaganda.

The NDP≡LIB Greenies have an interesting perspective on the carbon cycle: CO2 from burning biomass is absorbed by the vast boreal forest that surrounds us to make more biomass, while CO2 from burning fossil fuels goes off into the atmosphere to make the planet warmer. The Yukon boreal forest absorbs orders of magnitude more CO2 than we ever emit burning fossil fuels to produce electricity, heat our buildings and run our vehicles. However that inconvenient fact is merely ignored like anything else that doesn't fit the NDP≡LIB's 'Increase Taxes & Spend Into Debt' agenda.

It's wishfully naive to assume that the NDP≡LIB will not impose a Carbon Tax on the Yukon if they're in power.
Read the ancient fable about the scorpion and the turtle if that's not clear.

Up 266 Down 394

Max Mack on Apr 15, 2016 at 10:53 am

The last person or organization on the planet that should be funded to author a study on climate change is John Streicker or the Yukon Research Centre. It would be difficult indeed to find a more biased starting point. The so-called researchers are AGW believers of the first order.

That aside, pushing our population towards so-called "green energy" will be extremely expensive, increasing the cost of living substantially and diverting public funds from other useful purposes.

Our small Yukon population could entirely stop using fossil fuels and it would not make even the tiniest dent in human-caused CO2 levels. We could live entirely in the dark, starving and cold, and human-caused CO2 will continue to rise (think of developing countries and coal-fired energy generation).

Add to this the ridiculousness of burning biomass as a strategy for reducing CO2. Without carbon capture and sequestration, where do you think all that CO2 released by burning goes?

Up 218 Down 321

Francis Pillman on Apr 15, 2016 at 10:15 am

Lol at the troll voting down my comments. Truth dosen't change just because you are brainwashed by CNN.

Up 240 Down 354

jc on Apr 14, 2016 at 9:59 pm

Madam Kay White, Premier Pasloski is not God. Just what do you expect him to do about climate change? What did the NDP do about it when they were in government? In fact, it was about the time the NDP was in government when climate change and global warming was getting recognized. Maybe, the NDP had something to do with it. And as far as bio mass energy, why hasn't the FN been using this for the last 100,000 years since they have been here instead of burning dirty wood. Every time I read your comments, it's always about the suffering FN. If you are going to run for government try representing all races. By the way, the Yukon is now represented by all races, not just Aboriginals and whites.

Up 252 Down 387

north_of_60 on Apr 14, 2016 at 9:41 pm

If we were burning terrorist oil from the Mideast to heat our buildings, run our vehicles and barbecue our bison burgers, then I could see a good reason to use less.

However the oil and gas we burn in the Yukon comes from Canadian wells, and it's been extracted and produced in a country with some of the highest environmental [ and human rights] standards in the world. That Canadian oil makes jobs for fellow Canadians, pays their taxes, puts a roof over their head and food on their table. Revenue from petroleum provides transfer payments to every have-not Province and all the Territories.

The NDP and LIB want us to stop using Canadian oil as a symbolic gesture to "combat climate change", even though they can't provide proof that the fossil fuels we burn in the Yukon have any measurable effect on the planet. They've tried to convince us we should feel guilty about using Canadian oil and pay more tax to use it. They also can't prove how a tax increase will do anything to mitigate the "Effects of rising temperatures in the North include increasingly severe weather, greater risk of floods and forest fires, infestations of insects and other invasive species and biodiversity loss."

At the same time the NDP≡LIB want us to use less Canadian oil they want to buy more renewable energy toys from Asia where half of the GHGs and most of the toxic pollution in the world is created by burning coal to run the factories making all that stuff. The waste from those mines, factories and cities is dumped into the sky, onto the land, and into the water.

This NDP≡LIB attitude exemplifies greenwashed NIMBYism on a global scale. They don't care if the planet is heavily polluted to make their renewable energy stuff, just as long as the pollution isn't visible on their eco-tour raft trips on Yukon rivers or driving their Chinese-made electric car.

The NDP-LIB will raise taxes, but they'll give them trendy names to make them feel good. The Carbon Tax will be like Medieval Indulgences sold by the Church to pay for your sins.

The YP won't raise taxes. Everything else between now and the election is just political rhetoric.

So stop wasting our time, call the election, and let's get it over with.

Up 52 Down 193

yukon56 on Apr 14, 2016 at 7:53 pm

“Many Yukoners, especially First Nations, depend on hunting, fishing, and gathering, not only for traditional food and to support the local economy, but also as the basis for cultural and social identity.” Really?? Hunter gathers at wallmart.

Up 139 Down 241

yukon56 on Apr 14, 2016 at 7:51 pm

NDP with no solution just piss and moan

Up 195 Down 79

mary laker on Apr 14, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Fortunately I do not see the NDP suggesting a carbon tax. I am planning to vote for them but will not support a carbon tax. I do support looking into energy sources other than oil and gas for heating, and I am not in favour of an oil and gas industry in the Yukon after driving through Northern BC a few times. An ugly pillage is what is going on down there. It was such a relief to come back across the border to the beautiful Yukon. But we do need to start with the alternatives such as biomass or 'waste to energy' (burning garbage at extremely high temps).

So far so good, but please be cautious NDP, because I do want to vote for you but will not be voting for carbon taxes.

Up 31 Down 143

Let not talk around climate change but at it on Apr 14, 2016 at 5:03 pm

First just stop and look at what Rachel Notley just told the NDP's. It seems the Yukon NDP did not get the message.
Second bio mass is carbon "N" bit it is not just about burning the wood but create value out of some of this and building a Yukon specialty forest industry that creates jobs., short and long term
Third the real climate change in the Yukon is heating and trucking fuels.
You have the CoW mayor city manager wanting to purchase two climate changer killer buses instead of electric buses which are green.
The life time cost of a electric bus is just about the same as gas pigs.
John S please get your old friends to do what is needed and stop the liberal Mayor from messing with our climate in a very negative manner.
What about our seniors and children for god sakes liberals?

Up 283 Down 459

farce on Apr 14, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Oh dear learned drama teacher save us from the weather by taxing us more. A vote for the ndp and libs is a vote for a weather tax. Do read the ndp leap manifesto. Scary stuff

Up 276 Down 450

Peter Guzca on Apr 14, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Why don't any of you so called global warming professionals, I'm looking at you John, ever discuss geo-engineering? If you truly cared you would. It would be part of the discussion. Because it's not a secret anymore of what these scientists are doing or have planned. But it's not discussed. The only thing you parrot is carbon tax, carbon tax. Money will save us again. GIU.

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