action and words

The Yukon government's goal of being carbon neutral by 2020 is laudable. But is it achievable? That's the question. The government's 48-page Climate Change Action Plan is long on study, but short of hard targets.

The Yukon government’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2020 is laudable.

But is it achievable?

That’s the question.

The government’s 48-page Climate Change Action Plan is long on study, but short of hard targets.

It promises action on understanding climate change. On forecasting.

The government will work to adapt to the changing climate by evaluating its roads, bridges and other infrastructure impacted by changing climate.

Permafrost, forests and water resources will be evaluated and monitored.

The health of the territory’s residents will be monitored. Land-use plans will consider climate change.

Scenarios will be drafted. The public will be educated and trained, especially builders.

The government will explore the possibility of a Yukon carbon market. (And it will probably discard the idea as not workable in so small a jurisdiction.)

And it will develop pilot projects to improve homebuilding techniques.

There is talk about building more fuel-efficient buildings. Government vehicles will be purchased with efficiency in mind.

And, of course, there will be more bureaucracy.

The only spending laid out in the plan is $600,000 to establish a climate change secretariat to oversee the government’s response to the climate crisis.

At first glance it may seem like a decent list. Especially when pulled together in a report with pictures and bullet points.

But examine the list more closely and you’ll see much of it represents the status quo packaged as new stuff.

Presumably, government officials are already evaluating roads and bridges, permafrost, forests, water resources. And the health of residents.

For years, it has been tweaking homebuilding techniques through the Yukon Housing Corp.

And, though it’s long on research, the government’s imposition on the private sector is lighter than air.

There will be no regulations to force the private sector to cut emissions.

And there won’t even be territory-wide standards to serve as a benchmark.

Taylor got the Yukon’s action plan out just in the nick of time.

This week, she will chair the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment meeting at Yukon College. It might have been uncomfortable for the Yukon to lack such a plan as the nation’s environmental leaders gather here.

So, that little crisis has been averted.

Now, we’ll have to wait to see whether the ephemeral measures laid out in the plan are enough for the territory to hit its stated goal of zero emissions by 2020.

We suspect it will take more than the status quo. (Richard Mostyn)