Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomes Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski as he arrives at the First Ministers meeting at the Museum of Nature Monday, November 23, 2015 in Ottawa. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)It may not seem like much in a document that runs over 2,500 words, but for the leaders of Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut it was a big win. With a combined population less than half that of Saskatoon, they're not used to having their interests specifically mentioned.
Regional flexibility keyRegional flexibility was a refrain at Thursday's get-together, with each premier anxious to ensure the climate change achievements of their provinces were acknowledged. Saskatchewan fought to have its carbon capture and storage project recognized as a way to price carbon and New Brunswick insisted it should get credit for its hydro power investments.
Provincial leaders get the messageAgain and again, provincial leaders stood in front of microphones and talked about the need for northern climate change investments, such as getting rid of the aging, polluting generators that power most Arctic communities with expensive, high-carbon diesel delivered over ice roads or by barges. A 2015 Senate committee concluded northern electricity systems are "aging, underperforming and at capacity." In Nunavut, 13 of the territory's 17 generators are at least 35 years old. Such facilities not only emit greenhouse gases, they are important sources of black carbon, or soot, that hastens the disappearance of snow cover and sea ice by darkening it so that it absorbs more of the sun's energy. They're expensive, too. Power costs are a significant component of the high northern cost of living. The Vancouver Declaration makes specific mention of those generators, promising early action on "clean energy solutions to help get indigenous, remote and northern communities off diesel." No wonder Pasloski and his territorial colleagues were pleased. "We need flexibility to combat climate change in a way that makes sense for Yukon and doesn’t impact our fragile northern economy,” he said. "We are already investing in building retrofits, biomass energy generation, hydro expansion and a range of other carbon reduction efforts."
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