REGINA – Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says more can be done to help protect the environment, but he also wants to make sure new policies don’t hurt the province.
Wall says that’s why it’s important to raise Saskatchewan’s concerns at a major climate talk in Paris.
“We want to make sure that whatever Canada is committing to doesn’t kneecap our economy in the West,” Wall said of the Paris talks.
“We think what we’ve seen so far from Mr. Trudeau, there are not a lot of details, but so far his commitment that each province would be able to reach the national (emissions) targets on their own, using their own sort of equivalency, that’s positive. But I think the details are important — we want to protect Saskatchewan’s interests.”
Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau has said he wants to take all 13 premiers to the United Nations climate change conference which starts at the end of November.
At some point prior to that conference, Trudeau will have to squeeze in a meeting with those premiers, with whom he’s promised to develop a national plan for cutting carbon emissions in time for Paris.
Wall said there’s a separate table at the conference for sub-nationals, such as provinces and states, which can have a lot of influence on decisions.
“It’s really a shared responsibility because the feds set the targets, but they are also setting the targets in consultation with the provinces,” he said.
The targets will be important for Saskatchewan, which relies heavily on coal. Coal currently provides 44 per cent of Saskatchewan’s electricity, according to SaskPower’s website.
Saskatchewan has a carbon capture and storage project that the government touts as the world’s first commercial-scale operation of its kind.
The $1.4-billion facility takes carbon dioxide released by the Boundary Dam power plant near Estevan and releases the gas deep underground using a steel pipeline for storage.
“We’re trying to clean it up, but where we still have an energy sector that’s important, and a mining sector that has high emissions,” Wall said.
“From the opportunity to promote CCS and from a sort of proactive, or maybe a defensive posture, I want Saskatchewan’s voice to be there when maybe some pretty important decisions are being made that’ll affect consumers and job creators here in Saskatchewan.”