SASKATOON — Climate Justice Saskatoon (CJS) has described Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s new climate policy as inadequate and biased toward economically unsound options.
Spokesperson Mark Bigland-Pritchard said he was “encouraged” that Wall had at last publicly acknowledged the reality of the climate crisis. CJS also shares a desire to see an emphasis on innovation and technology, and an urgent concern for job creation. However, the group sees Wall’s comments as setting up a false dichotomy between carbon pricing and technological solutions.
As Bigland-Pritchard put it, “A carbon price is not only a way to ensure that polluters pay for the extra medical, infrastructure, climate impact and insurance costs they cause -over US $1,200 per person in Canada according to a recent International Monetary Fund report — but also will drive both industry and consumers toward higher-efficiency and cleaner technologies. So carbon pricing and technological solutions work together; they are not alternatives to each other.”
CJS is also dissatisfied with the technologies highlighted by Wall’s government. At a time when several renewables options are already highly competitive, CJS members are concerned by Wall’s preoccupation with expensive and logistically complex options such as carbon capture and storage, especially in view of the poor performance of this technology to date in Saskatchewan.
They dispute Wall’s speculative analysis that a substantial market would open up in east Asia, especially as several countries are making moves to reduce their dependence on coal. The focus on new nuclear reactor designs, which will take decades to move to deployment, makes even less sense given that greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced urgently.
CJS favours decisions make on the basis of environmental responsibility, economic viability and respect for indigenous rights — which would prioritize efficiency and most renewables.
As Bigland-Pritchard said, “Mr. Wall is not only rejecting the market mechanism of carbon pricing, but is deliberately favouring technologies which make no economic sense — an approach which is reminiscent of the economic planning methods in the former Soviet Union.”
CJS members also reject Wall’s proposal that Canada’s pledged donation to the Global Climate Fund be transferred to Canadian-based research. CJS’s Justin Fisher described it as “appalling” to suggest that Canada withdraw from assisting the lowest-income countries to adapt to climate change and to invest in clean technology for their own development.
While the government clearly acknowledges the reality of the climate crisis, Bigland-Pritchard is concerned that it still does not understand just how urgent things have got. He pointed to recent research by Oil Change International which showed that the potential carbon emissions from oil, gas and coal in the world’s currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond the 2°C of warming set as an upper limit in Paris.
All noted the basic food basket for Regina requires an hourly wage of about $16.95 according to 2015 figures. The group also said Saskatchewan should be a leader among Canadian provinces and have minimum wage of $15 per hour.