Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut May 01, 2018 - 9:30 am

Nunavut has no target for greenhouse gas reduction, says deputy minister

GN climate change unit badly understaffed, renewable energy too costly, officials say

BETH BROWN
Pauloosie Suvega, the Government of Nunavut’s deputy minister of environment, centre, gave very few concrete answers to questions from MLAs on climate change, during a line by line standing committee review, held April 30 at the Nunavut legislature, of the auditor general’s report on climate change in Nunavut. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
Pauloosie Suvega, the Government of Nunavut’s deputy minister of environment, centre, gave very few concrete answers to questions from MLAs on climate change, during a line by line standing committee review, held April 30 at the Nunavut legislature, of the auditor general’s report on climate change in Nunavut. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)

The Government of Nunavut has no target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and high costs in the territory will make any hoped for targets difficult to achieve, MLAs learned on Monday, April 30 during a standing committee hearing at the Nunavut legislature.

The regular members gathered Monday afternoon for a meeting of the legislature’s Standing Committee on Oversight of Government Operations and Public Accounts, held to review the auditor general’s recent report on the GN’s record in responding to climate change.

That report, tabled March 13, gave 10 recommendations on how to correct Nunavut’s inadequate response to climate changes that are impacting sea ice and permafrost in the Arctic, said Canada’s auditor general, Michael Ferguson.

Right now, most electrical power in Nunavut runs off diesel generators.

The 10 recommendations covered the creation of firm timelines and objectives for climate strategies, and called for better transparency when it comes to public reporting on the GN’s climate change plans.

In the review, MLAs questioned public organizations that were included in the audit—the Department of Environment, Department of Community and Government Services, the Qulliq Energy Corp., the Nunavut Housing Corp. and Nunavut’s climate change secretariat.

“Does the GN have a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions?” Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt asked officials at the Department of Environment.

“There’s no target that has been established to date,” the deputy minister of environment, Pauloosie Suvega, said in reply.

“Does the government have any idea when they will be able to be at a point where they can set a target?” Rumbolt then asked.

Suvega could not give a ballpark estimate for when the GN could set such a target.

Right now, there are discrepancies between projections made by the Nunavut government and the federal government on the level of greenhouse gas emissions in Nunavut, Ferguson said.

“It’s important for the department to work with Environment and Climate Change Canada … settling on one way to measure Nunavut’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Ferguson said.

He said the same inconsistencies exist in Yukon.

“It might be a good idea for the three territories to work together,” Ferguson said, when John Main, the MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove, asked him if there are benchmarks the territory could take from other jurisdictions that have been successful at managing climate change.

GN capacity, or the lack of it, was a common theme in responses given to MLAs from territorial officials during the committee’s line-by-line review of the audit that will continue May 1.

Of seven staff positions funded by the GN for the climate change secretariat, which was set up in 2016, only one of those positions is permanently filled, Suvega said.

One of the other seven spots is filled by a term employee, three are filled by casual workers, while the rest are vacant, he said.

“What is your department doing to hire and fill positions?” asked Arviat North MLA John Main, who later said, “it’s in Nunavut’s favour to be aggressive in terms of climate change.”

“I’m trying to build capacity in the department.… We are working through the hiring process where possible,” Suvega said.

“The individuals that have been working in the secretariat are working very hard.”

An official from the Qulliq Energy Corp. also said that regardless of how many studies are done on energy efficient technology in Nunavut, cost will remain a barrier to replacing and upgrading power stations in Nunavut.

“Our greatest challenge is not only technology,” he said, asking for patience and understanding from Nunavummiut as the organization works to transition to more efficient energy sources.

While his department is responsible for creating policies around climate change, Suvega repeated often throughout the three-and-a-half-hour meeting that it was through communication with “other government departments” that “initiatives,” “strategies” and “action plans” would lead to legislative change.

But Ferguson said he finds all too often in his audits that many strategies and action plans don’t get past the drafting stage.

When MLAs questioned Suvega about plans for updating previous Nunavut climate plans made in 2001 and again 2007, he said “it’s difficult to pin a target date on these documents. It’s clear that all of these documents need to be updated.”

More than one MLA brought up the looming federal government tax on carbon emissions.

But Ferguson said that carbon pricing was outside the scope of his audit, because it has yet to be implemented.

Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes, the chair of the standing committee, said he looks forward to seeing a report on the impact that carbon pricing will have in Nunavut tabled in the coming sitting of the legislature.

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(12) Comments:

#1. Posted by Walt Whitman on May 01, 2018

“Ferguson said he finds all too often in his audits that many strategies and action plans don’t get past the drafting stage.”

Welcome to Nunavut, Michael! Enjoy your stay.

#2. Posted by alternate on May 01, 2018

There is a large part of the GN and Nunavut that oppose anything called change and thus we are stuck with dirty diesel. Our biggest hold back in Nunavut is not allowing change this puts us at a disadvantage in so many ways to prosper. Not rampant unplanned like we do now in so many ways but progressive change adopting the good of change.

Wind power is a good alternate…the alternate and cheaper electrical power from wind has changed over the last 10 year to a point where wind can and will work here in Nunavut.  Not those silly test units they put up in a couple areas. Those units were old, out dated and not functional thus the test sites collapsed and failed. Put up true industrial setups like that have in Alberta, Ontario, USA, and Northern Europe. These units are made for proper generation of electricity and have a proven ground and results.

#3. Posted by The Old Trapper on May 01, 2018

Is anyone surprised?
Didn’t think so.

Here’s a suggestion. Take $1 million out of the GN budget. Offer it each year as a prize to the university that is able to produce the most power from a “standard” renewable installation. Each university gets a randomly drawn community each year, each university to fully fund their installation which is turned over to the GN at the end of the year. Data collection or upgrades could be ongoing, or maybe a 3 year term instead.

Maybe try something new and innovative instead of just shrugging your shoulders and conceding that nothing will ever happen because of GN ineptitude.

#4. Posted by Electrician 1 on May 02, 2018

Wind energy is renewable, but it’s not free.
First you have to pay for the generator / turbine.
You don’t need to pay for fuel.
But you do have to monitor and maintain the facility.

You are dealing with huge forces and extremely cold temperatures. Some parts ware, others stretch. Some become loose, yet others suffer from fatigue.

You don’t pay for fuel, but you must have continuous monitoring and preventive maintenance by skilled, dedicated people. Otherwise you soon have a pile of scrap.

That’s why wind power works at mine sites. They have the people. Wind power will work for Nunavut’s communities when QEC trains its employees appropriately and staff’s its facilities properly. 

There are about 8760 hours in a year. You need 5 people in order to have 1 person working at all times, including evenings, weekends, holidays and vacation. But QEC tries to staff most of its power plants at just 1.6 people. Wind power will never work at that staffing level.

#5. Posted by iWonder on May 02, 2018

#3 An interesting idea, but I wonder if a fully funded installation wouldn’t cost much more than 1 million? Seems likely to me. Either way, creative idea.

#6. Posted by Jim MacDonald on May 02, 2018

Sure go for it.  With lots, and massive wind-turbines, to turn Nunavut’s power plants into city-driving outfits.

Wind is not steady but, up, down and none. 

Meaning, power plants will be fluctuating all day and night, instead of a steady base line purr. Thus, using more diesel fuel and a guaranteed higher electrical bill for us. Just like other countries, who were taken into the wind… it’s free, fantasy dream.

Look overseas – many are shutting down wind farms after 30 plus years. Their wind fairy-tale morphed into a nightmare of serious health issues, bird kills and cash subsidizes and tax right offs ended. 

Some overseas countries are trying to end cash losses by selling their used turbines to North America.  Who are still lost in the attraction to wind novelty, on a massive scale. (It will work for us!)  Though, Ontario is waking up to reality.

While Nunavut is pushed into the wind-farm-dream by environmental NGO’s and politicians.

#7. Posted by alternate@hotmail.com on May 02, 2018

Wind energy is renewable, but it’s not free.
True nor is diesel generation free. With upcoming taxes and fuel prices rising comparison show wind produces a cheaper electrical output to the consumer.

First you have to pay for the generator / turbine.
True as do diesel generator plants cost a lot of money to renew. As the old diesel generators fail we could invest in new wind turbines.  It is about reducing our greenhouse gases.

You don’t need to pay for fuel. But you do have to monitor and maintain the facility.
Diesel and any plant takes a lot of monitoring and maintenance, A wind plant of 3-4 turbines would not take any more maintenance than a diesel plant overall. Most plants are all computerized monitoring and controlled.

#8. Posted by alternate@hotmail.com on May 02, 2018

You are dealing with huge forces and extremely cold temperatures. Some parts ware, others stretch. Some become loose, yet others suffer from fatigue.

Northern Europe gets as bad if not worse weather as we do.  There is wind generation around the world pretty. Diesel generators fail as well and the cost of maintenance and upkeep is just as much if not more that wind turbines. Oil changes, filters, new generators motor rebuilds all the same if not more than a wind generator.

You don’t pay for fuel, but you must have continuous monitoring and preventive maintenance by skilled, dedicated people. Otherwise you soon have a pile of scrap….when QEC trains its employees appropriately and staff’s its facilities properly
This is why we do not progress and even look at new technologies. Change is not going to happen because of the Nunavut old school thinking too easy to stay the same old.  Yes training is required and yes employment may happen and increase. This is all good for economy

#9. Posted by alternate@hotmail.com on May 02, 2018

Renewable /green house reduction is about change and looking at new and better ways to do what we are already doing producing electricity in this case. IF we keep just the norm as are we will never be better.
IMNO In Nunavut we are the worse environmental keepers of land ever, we have no recycling, we have no sewage treatment, we have no dump refuse plans, we have a population that thinks they can just drop anything they don’t want to use any more from a candy wrappers to pop cans, cigarette buts, old pampers (my favorite spring thing), old ATV, Snow machines, fuel barrels, old cars, sheds you name it is abandoned. Left to clutter the land. 
As keepers of Nunavut we do a piss poor job of keeping what is the most pristine area in Canada and most of the world.
sorry for 3 posts limits on characters.
A

#10. Posted by Think about it on May 03, 2018

One word, “Nuclear”! Cheaper to build, no annual fuel resupply, lots of wins.  But the same people who say not in my backyard, are the same people crying for something to be done.  Open your eyes, there are many suitable portable generation plants that would more than enough to provide safe clean reliable energy.

#11. Posted by Agreed on May 05, 2018

#10 I agree. Nuclear energy is the best path toward decarbonization the world currently has.

Small Modular Reactors offer new technologies that are considered 100 times safer, and are far cheaper than the older generation of reactors. These could easily be used to power a city like Iqaluit.

#12. Posted by IceClass on May 05, 2018

Go Nuclear.

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