Our health is only as good as the health of the environment that sustains us.
To protect that environment, we need to refrain from doing certain things, such as dumping toxins into rivers, emitting excessive greenhouse gases into the air, or ploughing native prairie.
But what we don’t do is just a start. The larger project is what we start doing — and there is much good work to be done. Building a healthy society and a healthy environment requires just that: building, and now is the time to get to work.
Saskatchewan’s CCF/NDP once led the way in rural electrification. With our abundant sun, wind and biomass power potential, strong tradition of co-operatives, ample expertise, and world-class crown corporations and local companies, we are uniquely positioned to again lead a North American energy renaissance.
- Employ Saskatchewan workers. There are tremendous opportunities for a just transition for current and new workers to find good jobs in renewable energy production, transit, and efficient retrofitting and building. This includes having SaskPower build and maintain its own solar and wind installations rather than relying on out-of-province developers for this work.
- Build capacity for local renewable power generation using wind, solar, biomass, small-scale hydro and geothermal power; and, as needed, import hydroelectric power from Manitoba to help replace our use of coal in order to move quickly toward SaskPower’s goal of 50% renewables by 2030.
- Establish a compensation regime for renewable energy production that strikes the balance between encouraging investment in renewable energy and maintaining affordable utility rates.
- Mandate SaskPower to work with municipalities, farmers, businesses, First Nations reserves and community-owned co-ops to develop a comprehensive network of renewable power production across Saskatchewan. Producing energy closer to where it’s used decreases line loss during transmission and allows local communities to meet their energy needs and build a steady source of revenue while promoting grid stability.
The cleanest and cheapest energy is the energy we don’t use.
- Establish an energy efficiency body, distinct from SaskPower, that focuses on cutting our overall energy needs by investing in conservation, subsidizing retrofits for existing buildings, and creating conservation-focused building codes and incentives for high-efficiency new construction and energy efficient vehicles.
- Combine energy efficiency with increased safety for low-income households by mandating this energy efficiency body to provide free energy and safety audits (eg. fall risk for seniors, carbon monoxide monitoring, etc.) and grants to fund the repairs and retrofits necessary to save utility and healthcare dollars.
- Introduce a major efficiency and conservation program aimed at industrial energy users, and revise the current SaskPower pricing structure under which electricity prices drop as electricity consumption rises.
Reducing Carbon Emissions
Climate change is the biggest threat to human health, which means that a robust response is our greatest opportunity to make positive change.
- Commit to reducing Saskatchewan’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 emission levels by 2030 as per our commitment under the Paris Accord.
- Create a made-in-Saskatchewan approach to carbon pricing that brings in new jobs, benefits rural and northern communities, and effectively incentivizes reductions in carbon emissions. For this to have the most benefit it must effectively reduce carbon emissions, provide employment for Saskatchewan workers, protect families from increased costs, support agricultural producers, protect trade-exposed industries and speed the transition to the energy infrastructure of the future.
- Invest in public research to develop and promote resilient farming methods and crops that will be required as the climate changes.
- End direct subsidies to oil and gas, and use the savings to re-establish the Green Futures Fund for greenhouse gas emission reduction through support for community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.
- Work with the oil and gas industry to regulate, accurately report and dramatically reduce methane emissions to achieve a 45% reduction by 2030.
- Transition electricity generation away from coal by 2030, with an aggressive transition plan to increase employment opportunities in coal-producing areas.
- Support the development of infrastructure to support high-efficiency vehicles, use incentives within SGI to promote high-efficiency vehicles, work with city governments to improve urban transit, and establish a new Saskatchewan Transportation Company with a high-efficiency fleet.
- Encourage agricultural practices that decrease carbon inputs through crop choices, fuel-efficient farm equipment and on-farm electricity production through wind, solar and biogas.
Protecting and preserving our natural environment
Saskatchewan is blessed with an incredible diversity of prairie, wetlands, lakes, rivers, forests. With care and attention, we can ensure we pass this natural legacy on to generations to come.
- Commit to the UN goal of designating 17% of our land area for protection, including establishing protected areas in the Great Sand Hills and the Cumberland Delta.
- Restore funding to the Meewasin Valley Authority and reinstate its statutory funding provisions. Support the MVA in making strategic land purchases to further preserve sensitive areas such as the NorthEast Swale.
- Work with local stakeholders, experts and oversight bodies to develop a strategy to deal with water drainage problems and the preservation of wetlands. Safeguard our water by enforcing existing regulations and conducting bottom-up watershed-based planning that is supported by legislation and action at the provincial level.
- Retain and protect remaining native grassland on Crown land, including community pastures.
- Work with northern communities, conservation organizations, the forestry industry, and First Nations to improve our stewardship of the forests that cover half of Saskatchewan.
- Employ Saskatchewan workers and protect the environment through regulations to upgrade existing pipelines and clean up abandoned oil well sites.
- Protect our farmland and pastures by providing incentives to producers who want to produce for local markets, use fewer pesticides, or diversify food production.
- Implement a waste management strategy that doesn’t put the burden on smaller communities.
- Provide landowners with tax incentives for conserving wetlands, woodlands and grasslands that are managed in ways that sustain natural carbon sinks.
A greener, healthier Saskatchewan is possible, one that promotes greater well-being and a thriving economy while using fewer resources, one that gives us more time with our families and less time in traffic, one that provides what we need today and preserves and protects the natural systems our children and grandchildren will depend on tomorrow.
To join the call for real action on climate change in Saskatchewan, please sign our petition.