Photo by Whitehorse Star
NDP MLA Emily Tredger
Photo by Whitehorse Star
NDP MLA Emily Tredger
The New Democrats are endorsing a petition from territorial environmental groups calling for more action on climate change.
An alliance of five local groups is demanding that the Yukon government take concrete steps to improve accountability for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the territory, including in particular within the mining industry.
The petition is from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Yukon chapter, Yukoners Concerned, the Yukon Conservation Society, the Raven Recycling Society and For Thei FutureYukon.
The groups maintain that, if the government is serious about its 45 per cent reduction target for GHGs, it must:
• set an emissions cap for the mining industry by December 2022; and
• routinely undertake complete analyses of multi-phase GHG emissions across all government and industry projects worth more than $500,000.
“If the Yukon government is serious about meeting its climate goals, then it’s critical that we assess how new infrastructure and resource extraction projects will impact the Yukon carbon budget,” said Malkolm Boothroyd, the campaigns co-ordinator at CPAWS Yukon.
“The climate impacts of these developments aren’t being thoroughly assessed, which makes it even harder for the Yukon to bring its carbon emissions under control,” added Lewis Rifkind, the mining analyst for the conservation society.
On Monday, NDP MLA Emily Tredger presented the legislature with the group’s petition that reads as follows:
That: The Yukon Government has declared that we are currently in a state of climate emergency and so has committed to reducing Territorial Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by 45 per cent over 2010 levels by the year 2030, in order to take responsibility for our part in helping to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius;
That: The Auditor General’s 2017 Yukon report stated that: the government’s climate action commitments and progress reports were “weak, with many lacking milestones or completion dates,” also that the government “did not systematically assess the risks associated with climate change before it defined its commitments”; and
That: The Yukon’s 2021 State of the Environment report found that between 2009 and 2019, Greenhouse Gas emissions had increased by 24 per cent;
That: GHG emissions from the mining sector constitute a significant and varying proportion of the Yukon’s emissions which could easily make it impossible for the Yukon to reach its emissions target;
That: The scope, complexity and urgency of this necessary 45 per cent reductions target is unprecedented and affects the future of all Yukon residents, yet is still lacking are specific commitments to successfully identify and narrow the knowledge gap regarding all current sources of GHG emissions, in order to enable and prioritize well-informed decision-making;
Therefore, we the undersigned respectfully request that the Yukon Legislative Assembly urge the Government of Yukon to commit to each of the following essential steps:
Starting immediately that the government will establish a policy to ensure that whenever capital decisions are being considered from across all government sectors and industry for all items worth over $500,000, a complete analysis of multi-phase GHG emissions from all up-front and operational activities expected, will be included. To avoid conflicts of interest and to ensure objectivity and accuracy, all such analyses will be completed by qualified professionals from private companies independent of government, legislative body, or development proponent;
Such complete, multi-phase GHG emissions analyses for pre-approved projects will also be completed and made public when associated funds are due to be released;
The Yukon Government will set an emissions cap for the mining industries by December 2022 similar to the cap being set by the federal government on the fossil fuel industries;
Whenever GHG emissions analyses have been completed, the data will be entered into a publicly accessible database for purposes of transparent accountability and for yearly progress reviews.
“Mr. Speaker, this has been signed by representatives of a number of environmental organizations in the Yukon, including CPAWS Yukon, Yukon Conservation Society, Yukoners Concerned, Raven Recycling Society, For Their Future Yukon, and a number of individual Yukoners.
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