Premier Sandy Silver and two of his cabinet minister rolled out their strategy this morning to battle climate change in the territory.
The strategy identifies 131 specific actions the government will take in the next 10 years to ensure that at least 97 per cent of the energy produced in the Yukon is from a green source.
The government, for instance, wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector by 30 per cent in the next 10 years.
It’s partnering with the federal government to rebate $10,000 – $5,000 from each government – for people who purchase electric vehicles.
In recognition that not everybody can afford a new electric vehicle, there’s also a rebate to cover the shipping cost for Yukoners who purchase a used electric vehicle from Outside and bring it into the territory.
Our Clean Future: a Yukon strategy for climate change, energy and a green economy is a 70-page document that lays out the 131 initiatives.
“We live in a world that is rapidly changing,” says the document. “Climate change is threatening ecosystems, subsistence harvesting, infrastructure, leisure activities and many other aspects of our lives.”
Silver, Environment Minister Pauline Frost, Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai and Mayor Dan Curtis all took turns delivering their thoughts to a large gathering of government personnel and community leaders.
“When our government declared a climate emergency in the territory, people rightly asked – what does that mean?” Silver told the audience.
“It was public acknowledgement of the dire situation our planet is in, and acknowledgement that climate change is real and that everyone,
governments, industry, businesses, individuals, all need to take action against this crisis.
“The strategy I am launching today is the action that accompanies this declaration. It is the action plan that our government will follow over the coming decade.”
The premier said over the next 10 years, the two governments will spend $500 million to build thriving, resilient communities that are powered by renewable energy and supported by a sustainable green economy.
“I am so proud of this strategy and the work that went into it,” Silver said. “It is a territory-wide approach developed in partnership with Yukon First Nations, transboundary Indigenous groups, and Yukon municipalities, over the course of three years.”
Silver said the final version of Our Clean Future outlines clear target, timelines and evaluation criteria.
Pillai said if anybody has any doubts about building and creating jobs in a green economy, all they have to do is visit the Solvest solar panel business to see how many people are employed there full-time. (Solvest employs up to 38 staff through the spring and summer, and 28 full-time through the rest of the year.)
When four De Havilland DH-4 biplanes touched down in Whitehorse 100 years ago this year, it was a moment that changed the Yukon forever, he told the audience.
“Our Clean Future aims to be that kind of milestone in Yukon’s history,” Pillai told the audience. “We will add a new chapter to our transportation sector’s story.”
Pillai said they are targeting the transportation sector because it is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the territory.
There are currently 22 electric vehicles in the territory, but the government wants to see more than 4,800 electric vehicles by 2030.
He noted rebates are also available for the purchase of electric motorcycles and electric bicycles, as well as zero-emission snowmobiles.
“By including a large suite of options, the Yukon government is helping support a transition to alternative forms of transportation that cuts across many aspects of everyday life for Yukoners,” Pillai said.
The government will spend $18.4 million over the next 10 years on the transportation rebates, he pointed out.
The Yukon government has committed to make sure half of the new light-duty cars it purchases every year over the next decade are electric.
The strategy also focuses on promoting the purchase of food produced locally as a means for reducing transportation emissions.
There are targets to ensure new residential and commercial buildings are built to high energy efficiency standards.
The government also plans to update its purchasing policy to better support sustainable and local procurement.
There’s a commitment to develop detailed guidelines that can be used by the government and its partners to develop walkable, bike-friendly and transit-oriented communities.
Frost said it was not that long ago that people refused to make the connection between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
She said people are slowly making the change, as the impact of climate change is hitting the Yukon harder than the rest of Canada.
Climate change is happening in the Yukon faster than anywhere else, she said.
Frost said the Yukon’s temperature is rising three times faster than the rest of the world.
“Now, more than ever, it is important for us to come together to share our collective knowledge and experiences to take action for a clean future for our children and grandchildren,” she said.
“Yukoners want to take action on the climate emergency and they want their government to show leadership.
“I’m pleased to be here for the release of Our Clean Future, which clearly lays out the actions our government plans to take.”