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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Climate change is a long term shift in weather patterns. Since the industrial age, the burning of fossil fuels has resulted in increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane in our atmosphere. These types of emissions are known as greenhouse gases (GHGs) and they contribute to increasing global temperatures.

Saskatchewan acknowledges the science-based reality of climate change and has already been working on reducing its GHG emissions. The province has prioritized cleaning up its coal generation, a baseload energy source, through world-leading carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at SaskPower’s Boundary Dam site in Estevan. Approximately 400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) were captured in its first year of operation. As the province’s largest GHG emitter, SaskPower has also committed to increasing its renewable energy generation from 25 per cent today to 50 per cent by 2030 though investments in wind, solar and geothermal technologies.

Saskatchewan joined other provinces and the Government of Canada at the Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP 21) meeting in Paris in December 2015, where an international agreement involving 190 countries was reached to limit climate-related increases in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius through continued GHG reduction. Saskatchewan will participate in a subsequent federal/provincial meeting in March on climate change, when the federal government is expected to further discuss its plans for GHG mitigation. Once the federal position is understood, Saskatchewan will develop the legislative and regulatory tools needed to help identify and achieve provincial targets, recognizing both regional challenges and opportunities.

Quick Facts

  • Our province’s GHG emissions were 74.8 million tonnes in 2013 according to Environment Canada.
  • The oil and gas sector and electricity generation are the two largest sources of GHG emissions, accounting for 28 per cent and 22 percent of total provincial emissions, respectively.
  • Other sectors such as agriculture and transportation each account for 18 per cent and 16 per cent respectively of provincial GHG emissions.
  • More information on Saskatchewan and Canada’s GHG emissions can be found in the National Inventory Report.
Saskatchewan accounts for 10 per cent of the national GHG emissions, with 3 per cent of the country’s population.

Managing the impacts of climate change

Countries are coming together to recognize that human activity and industry are contributing to an increasing concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere and a resulting warming trend in our weather patterns and activity. Consequently, countries are adopting various strategies to deal with the implications of climate change.

Saskatchewan believes it is fundamentally critical to balance the need for a sound GHG reduction policy with the importance of continuing economic growth, which will lead to long-term sustainable environmental results. This goal can only be achieved through sound policy that does not disproportionately penalize the natural resource sector.

Saskatchewan is working with the new federal government to develop workable strategies to manage climate change issues. A core part of the province’s strategy is the development of world-leading carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, a technology that has potential application around the world. In addition, the province’s power utility, SaskPower, is taking an aggressive approach toward the development of renewable energy technology .

SaskPower made the largest per-capita investment in the world by cleaning up coal generation through CCS technology at its electricity generating facility at Boundary Dam in Estevan. In its first year of operation, the plant captured 400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). While Canada has less than two per cent of global GHG emissions, SaskPower’s plan is to develop this technology for potential application in other countries, such as China and India, which continue to open new coal plants and have a much larger carbon footprint. It is estimated there are currently about 1,000 coal plants that are in development across the world.

SaskPower has also set a target of having 50 per cent of its electrical generation capacity come from renewable sources by 2030. That’s double today’s portfolio of 25 per cent renewables. This ambitious goal will be achieved by a major expansion in wind power, augmented by other renewables, such as solar, biomass, geothermal and hydro, along with a greater emphasis on natural gas generation – the cleanest burning fossil fuel.

The impact on SaskPower’s GHG emissions reductions is expected to be approximately 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. It’s also important to note that this is SaskPower’s current attainable target, but it will also lay the groundwork for deeper emissions reductions beyond 2030.

Remember that you can also take personal action on climate change through your own behavior by following some of these steps.


Distribution of Saskatchewan GHG Emissions by Major Sector, 2012

Source:  Environment Canada National Inventory Report, 1990-2012


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