Fentie mute on federal green plan

Canada’s three northern premiers agree climate change is one of the region’s greatest challenges.

Canada’s three northern premiers agree climate change is one of the region’s greatest challenges.

But Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie has no opinion about Ottawa’s proposed Clean Air Act.

“I have no definitive information that would allow me to make any informed decision on this area,” Fentie said Tuesday in a conference call from Iqaluit, NWT, where he met with Northwest Territories Premier Joe Handley and Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik for the first time since the Yukon Party was re-elected October 10.

“Our position is to encourage Ottawa to continue to address their areas of responsibility with respects to global warming and climate change,” said Fentie.

“We want to work with Ottawa and our sister territories to develop an adaptation strategy.”

The Clean Air Act, released October 18, aims to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming by at least 45 per cent of 2003 levels.

But its target date for the reduction is 2050.

It would set targets for smog and ozone levels by 2025, introduce “intensity-based” emission targets for large polluters, such as industry groups, by 2010, and establish fuel consumption rates for vehicles by 201l.

Short- and medium-term emission-reduction targets are supposed to be set by the spring, and violators will pay into a technology fund for emissions research and development.

The proposed act makes no mention of the Kyoto Protocol.

Fentie said he can’t judge whether or not Ottawa is meeting its obligation to address climate change.

“What the Clean Air Act is going to do remains to be seen because it is essentially addressing immediate, mid-term and long-term,” he said.

“We’re saying that as that work continues, nationally and internationally, in the North we need to get to work on adaptation strategies and develop measures that we can implement.”

The cold climate technology research and development centre that the Yukon Party wants to build in Whitehorse is separate from the pan-northern approach to climate change, said Fentie.

“As territories, we do not diminish or compromise what we are doing individually in our respective jurisdictions.”

During the two-day conference the three premiers renewed a “northern co-operation accord” for three years, offering a unified approach to Ottawa.

They discussed the 2007 Canada Winter Games based in Whitehorse, the upcoming international polar year scheduled for 2007-2008, and the establishment a northern court of appeal.

“Today any Justice issues that must go through appellate court are done outside the Yukon,” said Fentie.

“That should change. It should be done here in the North.

“It’s part of our development of social and political instruments in our territories as we continue our evolution of responsible government.”

Brad Cathers, the government house leader, announced Tuesday that the 32nd Yukon Legislative Assembly will convene for 12 days this fall, starting November 23, when Yukon Commissioner Geraldine Van Bibber will read the new territorial government’s Speech from the Throne.

Opposition parties already have their shadow cabinets in place.