Parties unveil plans to fight climate change

The Yukon NDP says it will create a $50-million green energy investment fund if it forms the next government.

The Yukon NDP says it will create a $50-million green energy investment fund if it forms the next government.

The fund would help the government, First Nation development corporations and entrepreneurs build renewable energy projects in the territory.

“This is the better choice to meet Yukon’s energy needs and create long-term, sustainable jobs that aren’t held hostage to world commodity prices, that deal with, head-on, the importance of moving away from fossil fuels,” NDP Leader Liz Hanson said Thursday.

The party plans to invest $10 million a year for five years into the fund, starting in 2017. It hopes that as of 2018, $3 million of that total will come out of revenue from a federally mandated carbon tax. The rest will come from the regular increase in the territorial transfer payment, according to a party spokesperson.

The NDP also hopes to double the fund to $100 million through partnerships with First Nation development corporations and governments, Hanson said.

The party didn’t announce any particular renewable energy projects it has in mind. But Hanson pointed to wind and geothermal projects planned by the Kluane First Nation as good examples, and said failed plans to heat the new F.H. Collins Secondary School with geothermal energy were a missed opportunity.

“I think there will be many, many ideas,” she said.

Hanson said part of the fund would be set aside to help Yukoners install energy-saving technology in their homes.

The NDP also wants to improve energy-related training and research, and to strengthen the Yukon government’s Energy Solutions Centre.

The party also plans to improve the energy efficiency of existing government buildings.

The Yukon Party is similarly making energy retrofits central to its plan to fight climate change, though it’s hoping to do so without a carbon tax.

On Friday, Yukon Party Leader Darrell Pasloski announced that his party would invest $47 million in energy efficiency retrofits at 20 of Yukon’s most energy-inefficient schools.

Those retrofits would include upgrades to wall and roof insulation, high-efficiency windows, heating system upgrades and lighting replacements.

The party would also install solar arrays on schools in all diesel-powered communities except Burwash Landing.

“This plan will put Yukoners to work,” said Pasloski. “It will reduce our use of fossil fuels for heating and make real reductions in Yukon’s greenhouse-gas emissions.”

The Yukon Party estimates the plan will result in annual savings of $2.4 million, and will reduce the Yukon government’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by nine per cent.

The Liberals also released a set of renewable energy commitments on Friday morning. They say they will promote renewable technologies and partner with Yukon First Nations on energy projects, including on any new hydro project.

They have also pledged to work on developing seasonal energy storage to reduce dependence on fossil fuels for power in the winter.

“As an independent grid, what we really need to do is store the energy from the summer to use it in the winter when we really need it,” said Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes candidate John Streicker in a statement.

The Liberals also say they will remove liquefied natural gas from Yukon’s independent power production policy. The policy, released last fall, was met with criticism for including natural gas as a form of clean energy.

Contact Maura Forrest at maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

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