Sask. Party, NDP lack climate leadership for province: Policy report

·2 min read

As voters get set to cast their ballots today at the polls, a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) says there’s a glaring contradiction in how people here treat climate change and fossil fuel usage.

“People are worried about climate change, but also support the fossil fuel industry and oppose carbon taxes,” the report’s co-authors say in its introduction.

Released on Oct. 14, the report tracks and analyzes, with online polling, people’s responses to more than 80 questions about energy, the economy and climate change. The poll, done by Insightrix, surveyed 502 residents in Regina, Moose Jaw, Weyburn, Estevan, Swift Current, Shaunavon, Kindersely, Saskatoon and Lloydminster.

The report shows 40 per cent of respondents worry about climate change (especially floods and drought) and only 13 per cent wouldn’t support a move “to the consumption of 100 per cent renewable energy.”

Yet, 47 per cent of people think the province doesn’t need a carbon tax and 40 per cent are opposed to phasing out fossil fuel production, especially in oil-producing areas.

Report co-author Emily Eaton, a fossil fuel, economy and environment professor at the University of Regina, says those contradictions exist because of what she called a “lack of climate leadership.”

“The scale and scope of the crisis of climate change are apparent to people. (They have an) understanding that we need to act. The problem is that those in positions of leadership and fossil fuel industries have said ‘Well yes, we need to act. Let's just introduce more renewable energy,’ ” she told the Leader-Post.

The province’s main parties, the NDP and the Sask. Party, fail to provide that climate leadership, she said.

Neither party has approached rural communities, especially those depending on fossil fuel production, with “credible transition plans” to move off of fossil fuels, she said.

Were they to do that, Eaton said it would mean presenting transition plans to those communities for their input to support “workers in the transition ... not the fossil fuel industries.”

The report concludes by saying Saskatchewan needs to “transition off of fossil fuels” for environmental and economic reasons: To limit global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees C to avoid “catastrophic environment consequences,” and to avoid boom-and-bust cycles the oil industry has seen over the past 12 years, as “investors continue to divest from fossil fuels.”

Looking beyond today's voting, Eaton said "both parties moving forward and looking at the future will have to develop much more robust climate change policies if they want to remain relevant in the province."

Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post