More carbon action, please

More carbon action, please Last week both local newspapers carried articles quoting our premier's opposition to carbon taxes. Apparently, although we are paying 40 to 50 cents per litre less for gasoline, diesel fuel and home heating fuel we would still n

Last week both local newspapers carried articles quoting our premier’s opposition to carbon taxes. Apparently, although we are paying 40 to 50 cents per litre less for gasoline, diesel fuel and home heating fuel we would still not be able to afford a tax of 5 to 10 cents per litre, as some provinces have instituted.

According to these articles our government feels that there are other ways to reduce emissions, including retrofits to public infrastructure to improve energy efficiency. It makes sense, we are told, to focus on advancing new technologies.

The government indicates it fully supports addressing climate change as outlined in the Climate Change Action Plan (developed in 2008 and released in early 2009). Very recently, and with much fanfare, the Biomass Energy Strategy was released. “Using biomass is a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable solution for heating in the territory” the minister is quoted as saying.

What is puzzling in all this is that we all know that retrofits are far more expensive than building better in the first place. So given all of the quotes and indications from our government as outlined above, why does our newest piece of public infrastructure, the new FH Collins High School, not incorporate more energy efficiency technology and alternate space heating technology?

The building is not, from what I have read, built to a super-green standard, nor is it LEED certified to any level. Neither does it have a biomass boiler. It could be it has a secondary electric boiler to make use of Yukon Energy’s power surpluses, but I am not even sure of that.

I have enquired about the new extended care facility to be located in Whistle Bend. From the responses received I can surmise that it is “energy efficient” but there is no indication of being built to a super-green standard and no indication of a LEED certification at any level. There is no mention of a biomass boiler; condensing propane boilers will be used instead (which have been around for about 20 years).

By absence of mention in response to my inquiry, there will be no secondary energy boiler to make use of any surplus electrical energy Yukon Energy may have. And Yukon Energy will have more surplus when the Minto mine shuts down. Finally, despite the many suitable roof surfaces on this three-storey building there will not be a single solar panel on it.

While we have a number glossy of strategies, action plans, and policies, it seems to me much more in the way of greenhouse gas emission reductions could have been achieved with our tax dollars if instead they had been invested in some real concrete action items (just as a carbon tax would allow us to do).

The Whistle Bend extended care facility is only in the design stage now, so there is still time to make some real improvements to reduce its greenhouse gas impact on our climate. Let’s pull up our socks and do something real!

John Maissan

Whitehorse

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