Premier Darrell Pasloski has returned to Whitehorse after a week of meetings and discussions at the climate conference in Paris.
In an interview with the News on Thursday, Pasloski said there was a feeling of pressure at the conference to come up with an international agreement to curb climate change.
“But I think there was also a lot of excitement that people were going to be able to come up with a deal,” he said.
The premier said he spoke at a panel with five other Canadian premiers on Wednesday morning, and that the experience of climate change in the North “resonates.”
“I can stand up and tell people about… the Shakwak Highway and how highways that we have that are built on unstable permafrost cost us… six times more a kilometre than other highways.”
Catherine McKenna, the federal minister of environment and climate change, made news this week when she endorsed a goal of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average. In general, two degrees of warming has been accepted as the limit to prevent dangerous climate change.
Pasloski wouldn’t say whether he supports McKenna’s position, but he did say he doesn’t believe an international agreement will be reached with a 1.5-degree target.
Asked whether it would be feasible for Canada to aim for the lower limit, he said that “Canada’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is less than two per cent.” However, he also noted that Canada is within the top 10 global greenhouse gas emitters.
Pasloski said one area where Canada can make a difference is in exporting clean technology to developing countries. He pointed to carbon capture and storage technology currently being used in Saskatchewan as one example.
But NDP Opposition Leader Liz Hanson, who was also in Paris this week, said people see Canada as having a real ability to mitigate the causes of climate change, since the country has a relatively small population and a fairly pristine environment.
She said people can’t just focus on adapting to the effects of climate change after it happens.
“There seems to be an emphasis on adaptation to climate change,” she said. “The real challenge is how are we going to… prevent further erosion of our climate.”
International negotiators in Paris are now aiming to reach a global agreement on Saturday.
Liberal Leader Sandy Silver, Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Ruth Massie, youth delegate Sabrina Clarke and officials from Environment Yukon also attended the talks.