Greenwashing Saskatchewan

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The province of Saskatchewan, with 3% of Canada’s population, produces 9% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Will the NDP government’s recently-released Energy and Climate Change Plan cut those emissions?

John Warnock says no.

In The NDP’s Climate Change Plan: Political Greenwash he argues convincingly that the plan produced by a party that has long claimed to be progressive is “completely inadequate.”
The government’s report provides this summary of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the province:

Oil and Gas Production: 33%
Electricity Production: 24%
Transportation: 16%
Agriculture: 14%
Other Industry: 6%
Commercial Heating: 3%
Residential Heating: 3%
Other: 1%
As these figures show, “the most serious problem is presented by the large industrial greenhouse gas emitters.” Despite this, “there is no discussion in the NDP’s paper of how the government in going to mandate reductions to large emitters.”Warnock carefully examines the five emission-reduction “wedges” proposed by the NDP, and finds each of them inadequate, lacking in concreteness or (as in the case of uranium mining) fraught with “enormous social, environmental, health and safety costs.”

So why did the NDP bother to produce a “a 20-page document that anyone familiar with the issue in Saskatchewan could have easily written in a week”?

It’s all about politics and elections:

“First, it is simply not credible any longer to deny the overall consensus among scientists that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are promoting climate change. There is a mountain of evidence of the adverse effects, even in Saskatchewan. Secondly, public opinion polls consistently show that over 70 percent of Canadians believe that this is a serious problem and that governments should take action. Third, public opinion polls and two provincial by-elections indicate that the electorate in the province is very unsatisfied with the policies of the NDP government and are ready to toss them out of office – and in a very big way. Something had to be done to try to reverse these trends.”

The NDP says its plan will stabilize Saskatchewan’s emission by 2010, then reduce them 32% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Warnock says the plan can’t do that – and wasn’t even meant to:

“It seems mainly designed to provide re-enforcement for pet programs of the government, including the ethanol industry, maintaining the coal industry, and assisting the oil and gas industries in the rapid extraction and export of our non-renewable resources. It is also a continuation of the CCF-NDP governments’ strong historic support for the uranium and nuclear industries. It addition, it reflects the commitment of the political elite in this province to a highly centralized and monopolized system of energy production and distribution.”

In short, the Saskatchewan provincial NDP, like the federal Liberals and Conservatives, is more interested in greenwash than green action.