'The territory needs to send a clear and forceful signal to the rest of Canada.'
Nunavut ranks 'fair' on climate change response
Nunavut has taken steps to adapt to the impact of climate change, but needs to do more to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, says a study released by the David Suzuki Foundation last month.
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British Columbia, which recently introduced a carbon tax ranked highest, Alberta, home to the pollution-belching oil sands, ranked lowest. Nunavut landed in the middle of the pack with a ranking of "fair."
"The territory is so vulnerable to climate change that it needs to send a clear and forceful signal to the rest of Canada and the world that reducing greenhouse gas emissions and minimizing climate change as much as possible is of paramount importance," the report states. "Its approach so far does not do this."
Nunavut earned high marks for developing plans for each community to adapt to climate change, focusing on shoreline erosion, water flow, and vegetation.
The foundation also praised the territory's success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions: Nunavut and the Northwest Territories reduced their combined carbon emissions 27 per cent between 1990 and 2006. According to figures the report says may be less reliable, Nunavut cut its own emissions by 69 per cent between 2003 and 2006.
The David Suzuki Foundation also praised efforts to develop renewable energy supplies and the enforcement of energy efficient building standards.
But the report also says the territory hasn't set any targets for cutting its own greenhouse gas emissions. And the foundation criticizes Nunavut's energy strategy, released in September of 2007, for encouraging the development of Nunavut's uranium and oil and gas resources.
"It is understandable that Nunavut would want greater economic development, but when developing unsustainable energy resources, it is very difficult if not impossible to avoid environmental degradation through greater impacts on the land and increased air pollution," the report states.
"A strong regulatory environment is required, but the energy strategy gives no indication that this is a priority and Nunavut, as a territory, has limited jurisdiction in this area."
Nunavut is also working on a new transportation plan, and the report says there's no mention of ways to reduce carbon emissions from transportation, particularly air travel, which is the single largest source of pollution in the territory.
The report makes the following recommendations:
- Reconsider having only adaptation measures in the upcoming climate change plan and include a framework for developing mitigation strategies.
- Include greenhouse gas considerations as part of the transportation strategy.
- Reconsider the development of uranium mining, a dangerous and unsustainable industry.
- Require that any new oil and gas development be carbon neutral, including the implementation of GHG accounting methodologies, the development of mitigation strategies to reduce emissions from operations, and the purchase of high-quality offsets for remaining emissions.
- Assess the potential of renewable-energy technologies other than hydro.
- Develop high energy-efficiency standards for buildings and appliances.