Sask. must turn to renewables: Report
A recently released report about Saskatchewan’s environmental practices makes for sobering reading.
Take our annual 74 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, which are more than three times the Canadian average, and almost 10 times higher than the world average.
Or perhaps the impact of Saskatchewan’s economy on ocean acidification, biodiversity loss and nuclear weapons proliferation.
Yet co-author Peter Prebble said it’s not entirely a picture of doom and gloom.
While “we really do face grave circumstances,” he said, Saskatchewan is at a kind of environmental policy crossroads, so “it’s exciting to look at the policy options available to us.”
Prebble, environmental policy director for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society and a former NDP cabinet minster, teamed up with David Henry, Murray Hidlebaugh and William Wardell to author Building an Environmentally Sustainable Future for Saskatchewan.
In the report, released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the authors make six pages of policy recommendations — 30, in total — and Prebble considers them realistic goals.
“WE REALLY DO FACE GRAVE CIRCUMSTANCES.”
One of the main arguments is that Saskatchewan should turn its focus from oil and gas to renewable energy.
Because the province is so large, sunny and sparsely populated, Prebble said we have “a great chance” to lead the country.
“We have lots of space for wind turbines and an incredible solar resource we’re just not using,” he said.
“We’re so fortunate to have the resources, but there’s ... no solar development at all.”
Prebble acknowledged that Saskatchewan’s economy has experienced tremendous growth thanks in large part to mining, oil and gas; the report’s authors were “very conscious of that” as they researched and developed their report, yet they say the “cost to the global community has been huge.”
Environmentally sound choices are one thing, but the political appetite to address the issue is quite another.
But Prebble said once people “understand the consequences of not” pursuing sustainable options, the tide will change.
“It’s a question of policy choices, and it’s more important that we have a sustainable economy than one that keeps on growing,” Prebble said.
“Without an environmentally sustainable economy, eventually you don’t have an economy at all — it’s ruined.”