Taylor won’t explain her tough talk

Canada needs to be more "decisive" and "ambitious" in its commitments to fighting climate change, says Yukon's Environment Minister, Elaine Taylor.

Canada needs to be more “decisive” and “ambitious” in its commitments to fighting climate change, says Yukon’s Environment Minister, Elaine Taylor.

But she wouldn’t specify what she means by this, when asked in the legislature yesterday.

Instead, Taylor repeated a few lines from a now well-worn script.

She touted the territory’s climate change action plan, which proposes that the territory become carbon neutral by 2020, but prescribes few concrete measures to reach this goal.

And she reminded MLAs that the bulk of the world’s cuts to greenhouse emissions are in the hands of local, not national, governments, and that the Yukon plans to do its bit.

The territory is greening its fleet of government vehicles, and modernizing its power grid with plans to allow for independent power production and net metering, said Taylor.

That’s not enough, said Hardy. He pushed, unsuccessfully, for Taylor to explain the demands she will take with her to Copenhagen’s world climate change summit later this month.

Hardy also pushed, unsuccessfully, for the Yukon Party government and Liberal opposition to sign a letter addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper that calls for Canada to adopt several ambitious measures.

One is to commit to reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions to levels 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

Canada’s current commitment is far more modest. Its target is equivalent to a mere three per cent reduction from 1990 levels.

This target is among the least ambitious in the industrialized world.

Hardy’s letter further calls for Canada to cut emissions to 80 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050.

And it asks for a national carbon tax and cap-and-trade system, as well as unspecified incentives to lower fossil-fuel consumption.

Both the Liberals and the Yukon Party have made it clear that they oppose a carbon tax, so it was never likely that the letter would have won the support that Hardy sought.

But Hardy feigned shock afterwards, stating in a news release that the lack of support “really surprises me, because both have said publicly they support measures that will reduce our country’s emissions of dangerous greenhouse gases.”

Taylor and 10 other Yukoners will spend a week in Copenhagen, from December 12 to 18, during the second half of the two-week conference. The trip is expected to cost $80,000.

The Liberals’ Eric Fairclough and the NDP’s Steve Cardiff are also attending, along with a bevy of bureaucrats and Amber Church, a youth representative.

Taylor told the CBC that the presence of the Yukon delegation would be “pivotal” to the meeting’s outcome. She didn’t respond to an interview request.

On Tuesday, Fairclough took aim at Taylor by claiming that the Department of Environment hasn’t met its obligations to produce State of the Environment reports.

“If the Minister of Environment cannot take care of the business at hand in her own back yard, how effective is she going to be on the world stage?” he asked.

That’s not true, Taylor replied. Her department is required to produce a full State of the Environment report every three years, and an interim report every year between the full reports.

The territory produced its last full report in 2008. It released an interim report in April of 2009.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.