Yukon needs a push to get off fossil fuels

Yukon needs a push to get off fossil fuels Open letter to MP Larry Bagnell: We understand our premier will be in Vancouver later this week, to discuss action on climate change with the prime minister, other ministers and premiers. Premier Darrell Paslosk

Open letter to MP Larry Bagnell:

We understand our premier will be in Vancouver later this week, to discuss action on climate change with the prime minister, other ministers and premiers.

Premier Darrell Pasloski has stated in the Yukon media that he is against a price on carbon, which he thinks will be too onerous and unfair on such a small jurisdiction as the Yukon.

Mr. Bagnell, we went to the Yukon Energy Corporation’s first public meeting about its resource plan last night. Amongst a lively debate, the CEO of Yukon Energy stated that he would love to develop a new market of space heating with renewable energy but territorial policy prevents Yukon Energy from doing it. The present territorial government is highly resistant to having the Yukon reduce its fossil fuel consumption.

The reason for their resistance is not due to any technological barriers as far as we know. JP recently co-authored a paper that modeled a 45-megawatt windfarm on Mount Sumanik and found that we could heat over 5,000 homes. We already spill enough water in our hydro system to “fuel” hundreds of electric cars. The North’s solar potential is immense. Getting Yukon off fossil fuels is not a technological problem, it is an ideological one.

Mr. Pasloski needs to save face with his Conservative backers by being resistant to change like Premier Brad Wall in Saskatchewan. While Premier Wall has a much larger problem of a provincial budget highly dependent on fossil fuels, the Yukon does not, so we have far more wiggle-room in that regard.

Mr. Bagnell, the Yukon needs a revenue-neutral carbon tax like B.C.‘s, so we can start down the road to reducing our carbon footprint. We are not a large jurisdiction but we are leaders. Most of the packed room at the High Country Inn last night wanted Yukon Energy to be more aggressive in developing renewable energy to displace fossil fuel in the transportation and space heating sector. Over and over we heard that our territorial government is standing in the way of that happening. There is a territorial election coming, so until that time, we need the federal government to make a carbon tax as politically palatable to the territorial government as possible.

Like the fabulous $2 million that Minister Melanie Joly brought to our Arts and Culture organizations this past weekend, the Trudeau government can create a successful low-carbon future for Canadians by helping the North be a model of sustainability.

The Yukon is a perfect testing ground for a low-carbon future based on proper carbon pricing. Let us not have our present Yukon government stand in way.

Please share this open letter with all appropriate ministers who will be attending that meeting in Vancouver.

Sally Wright

Kluane Lake

JP Pinard, PEng, PhD

Whitehorse

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