Sierra Club of Canada: 1996 Rio Report Card


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Saskatchewan

D

Biodiversity

1993 Grade: F

1994 Grade: F

1995 Grade: D

1996 Grade: D

Some progress was made this year in setting aside protected areas. Forty per cent of lands under the Wildlife Habitat Protection Act were set aside as protected. Despite this, none of Saskatchewan's 11 natural regions has yet been fully represented in the protected areas system.

Meanwhile, budget cuts and uranium mining bring down the grade over all. Despite high hopes for the environment minister, the Honourable Lorne Scott, a stalwart opponent in private life of the Rafferty and Alameda dams of the Grant Devine era, the overall commitment to the environment of the provincial government is slipping. The Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management's Environmental Protection Branch has lost 20 per cent of its funding. Groups throughout Saskatchewan have called on the government not to balance the budget on the back of the environment.


F

Saskatchewan - Climate Change

1993 Grade: F

1994 Grade: F

1995 Grade: D-

1996 Grade: F

Carbon dioxide emissions (kilotonnes)
1990: 28,696
1994: 35,467
Increase: 19.1%

Saskatchewan gets a failing grade this year for letting SaskPower continue to run the province and for closing the Energy Conservation and Development Authority.

In an Earth Day press release, provincial environment groups challenged the government on cuts of 20 per cent to Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management department, demolition of the Energy Conservation and Development Authority and for increasing reliance on volunteerism and public monitoring.

The Saskatchewan Energy Conservation and Development Authority (SECDA) had a mandate "to promote research, development and application of new technologies related to energy conservation and alternative energy; to promote research, development and application of new technologies related to expanded production or value-added processsing of conventional energy resources; to identify, evaluate and promote the development of business opportunities associated with these new energy technologies; to evaluate future electrical generation options for Saskatchewan and make recommendations with respect thereto for the period from 2003 to 2020, including an assessment of socio-economic and environmental considerations; and to report on the foregoing as may be required by the Minister of Energy and Mines or his or her designate from time to time."

By all accounts, the Authority was effective. According to the April 22, 1996 release:

"The demolition of the Saskatchewan Energy Conservation and Development Authority is another tragic step backwards in the journey towards sustainability. The formation of this agency in 1992 was one initiative that appeared to demonstrate a forward-thinking, responsible, environmentally aware attitude in Saskatchewan... We are now watching the break-up of SECDA and the loss to the province of a wealth of planning and support services which had started to enable Saskatchewan to regain a leadership position in energy management."

The Saskatchewan government couldn't stop with just killing the Authority. It also has approved the construction of the very expensive Condie power line - further committing itself to the status quo.

It should come as no surprise that the Authority would be canned with its daily challenges to the status quo in Saskatchewan. SaskPower is in complete control: franchise fees paid to municipalities are equal to 10 per cent of the retail value of energy sold in each municipal territory. These incentives were used to encourage municipalities to forego local generation in the early forties when SaskPower was established. SaskPower thermal power plant expansions have contributed to a 20.1 per cent increase in emissions between 1990 and 1994.

SaskPower incentives will make it extremely difficult for the City of Regina to meet its target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions 20 per cent by 2005 as energy savings must be balanced against lost revenue to the municipality. The City has issued one of the most foreward thinking assessments of its potential for achieving the target that Sierra Club has ever seen. Unfortunately, the barriers to implementation are enormous with no support from the provincial government.

In fact, Saskatchwan has not even issued a detailed climate action plan; its initiatives fit on a few pages. Credit, however, is deserved for provincial support of Destination Conservation, a school retrofit program, its ice rink retrofit program and plans to develop a Clean Air Strategy for Saskatchewan that will include climate change.


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Copyright 1996 Sierra Club of Canada