The director of the territory’s climate change secretariat is being recognized for her leadership on the territory’s Our Clean Future strategy.
Rebecca Turpin was recently named as a recipient of the Clean50 Award for 2023. The award from the Delta Management Group aims to recognize leaders across the country who are advancing climate action and solutions. Turpin was recognized in the public sector category of the award.
As it’s noted on the Clean50 website: “Dr. Turpin and her team are at the forefront of the Yukon’s firm stance to mitigate climate change. She leads all climate change-related policy — including the Yukon’s newly enhanced climate, energy and green economy strategy, Our Clean Future.”
The policy, adopted in 2020, sets out climate change action goals for the territory, including a 45 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emmissions by 2030, while also ensuring 97 per cent of electricity from the grid comes from renewable resources. Turpin is also working toward a goal of having a full government fleet of zero emissions vehicles, targeting 4,800 of those to be on the road by 2030.
“I was very honoured,” Turpin said in a Oct. 11 interview, emphasizing it is really the entire team at the climate change secretariat that are behind the efforts.
She is curious as to where the nomination came from, as officials from the award group are not revealing who submitted nominations.
Turpin has been working with the secretariat for two-and-a-half years. She acknowledged the goals set out in Our Clean Future as “really ambitious targets,” but also noted the benefits of an ambitious plan that has broad strategies in a number of areas. The strategy includes 136 commitments aimed at addressing climate change issues in the territory.
Additionally, the secretariat also releases an annual climate risk and resilience assessment that outlines progress made on the implementation of Our Clean Future with the 2021 annual report released in September.
It notes that 2021 key actions from the strategy saw the removal of plastic bags from circulation in the territory, engagement with youth on climate issues through the Yukon Youth Panel on Climate Change, a decline in emissions between 2019 and 2020 (though the impact of the pandemic on behaviours is also acknowledged) and the doubling of the amount of zero-emissions vehicles on the road.
Turpin said she’s particularly pleased the territory’s risk assessment uses both qualitative and quantitative measures in looking at the information. Along with considering data that was gathered, efforts were made to gather information and input from First Nations, municipalities and communities throughout the territory.
Going that route has significant benefits including a shared understanding and broadening the government’s perspective on the issues, Turpin said, noting it is worth the additional time it takes for the assessment to be done.
In this case, that additional time was significant given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s really important we do [the assessment] this way,” she said.
Moving forward, Turpin said the secretariat will continue efforts to implement the Our Clean Future targets, ensuring that as it does, it is working with other governments and communities.
Gavin Pitchford, executive director of the Delta Management Group which issues the Clean50 awards, praised the work of Turpin and other award winners.
“Canada needs to eliminate 730 megatonnes of carbon pollution from our annual output,” he said. “Over the past year, Canada’s 2023 Clean50 have made a significant start on that target — with much more to come. If we have any hope of hitting our committed targets, it is people like these Canadians [we] will need to thank”.
A total of 50 senior leaders, 20 emerging leaders, 25 sustainability projects and five lifetime achievement award winners were recognized from 1,000 nominees.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at email@example.com