Sask., Alberta cited as worst GHG polluters in Canada

Saskatchewan’s gas emissions are three times higher than the Canadian average, says report

Agriculture is responsible for 16 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Saskatchewan, according to a new report on climate change.

“Agriculture is a smaller set of emissions, but it’s still not insignificant,” said Peter Prebble, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society’s director of environmental policy and author of the report.

“It’s one of the areas where emission reductions needs to be more gradual because agriculture can be really affected by emissions and there’s not as many good alternatives.”

Electricity generation, the oil and gas industry and transportation are the three big sources of emissions in the province.

The 60-page report, which was released April 29, includes information gathered during two days of testimony at the Saskatchewan Citizens’ Hearings on Climate Change in November.

Presided over by four commissioners, the inquiry heard from 36 experts, activists, educators and concerned citizens. A combined testimony of 20 hours led to the report and its 27 recommendations and conclusions.

The report said Saskatchewan and Alberta are the worst greenhouse gas polluters in Canada and among the worst in the world. It said Saskatchewan accounts for 10 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions but only three percent of the country’s population.

Saskatchewan greenhouse gas emissions are also three times higher than the Canadian average.

The report speaks directly on how climate change is affecting Saskatchewan.

“There’s been a marked increase in flooding in Saskatchewan over the past decade, and that is something that is likely to continue,” said University of Saskatchewan associate professor Marcia McKenzie, one of the four commissioners.

“Over the longer time frame, it’s projected that there will be increasing intense and prolonged droughts in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is also vulnerable to extreme weather events due to climate change.”

McKenzie said there’s also concern that Saskatchewan residents will face more Lyme disease because of the effects of a warming climate.

Prebble said Aboriginal elders have been seeing an effect on medicinal herbs and plants during the last decade.

The report recommends ways to curtail prairie greenhouse gas emissions.

Some involve planting more trees to sequester more carbon and reducing intensive grazing practices in livestock pastures.

Prebble said Saskatoon has 80 percent more solar power availability than Germany, which is meeting the energy needs of 11 million people through a combination of solar, wind and bio-mass technology in a geographical area half the size of Sask-atchewan.

The report concludes an orderly phase out of fossil fuel worldwide over the next several decades is necessary.

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