Territory scores badly for diesel electricity generating plants

Nunavut gets a C-minus on its green report card


Depite having no roads and Canada's smallest economy, Nunavut recorded a modest C- grade in a green report card compiled by Corporate Knights magazine.

Nunavut scored high for the small amount of toxic pollutants it emits, the fact that all 27 communities have some form of sewage treatment and a high proportion of commuters who use something besides a car to get to work.

Nunavut also scored well for having by far the lowest per capita vehicle mileage.

But the territory took a big hit for a lack of energy efficient buildings, high cancer rates and its near-total reliance on diesel fuel to generate electricity.

In fact, Nunavut came in dead last in the percentage of its electricity generated by renewable energy, with just 0.4 per cent, said Toby Heaps, editor in chief of Corporate Knights.

But that also presents Nunavut with an opportunity.

"Other jurisdictions have figured out how to do wind [power generation] in extreme climates so the technology does exist," Heaps said. He added Nunavut should also investigate geothermal energy as a potential heating source.

Nunavut has dabbled in renewables in recent years, installing some solar panels, repairing a windmill in Rankin Inlet and using residual heat from Iqaluit's power plant to heat some municipal buildings.

With Nunavut's mining industry expected to expand in the coming years, the territory's overall ecological footprint will likely rise. But Heaps said Nunavut should ensure some of the wealth generated by mining is invested in green infrastructure.

"A lot of times there are co-benefits in terms of energy security, and also lower costs," Heaps said.

"If there's going to be wealth coming from the mines, I think there's also wealth to be had in jobs and long-term savings by making buildings more efficient."

Heaps said Nunavut could play a role developing innovative responses to pollution and climate change.

"Nunavut in a lot of ways has more at stake in this fight than almost any other place in the world," he said.

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