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Yukon MP, environment minister react to climate change report

April 22 marks Earth Day
A Ford Focus Electric car charges at Quantum Machine Works. The installation of more charging stations is part of the Yukon government’s climate plan. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Yukon MP Brendan Hanley says the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is “yet another wake up call” of the action needed to address climate change.

The IPCC finalized its latest report on April 4.

In an April 21 interview, Hanley said the report speaks to the urgency of addressing the impacts of climate change across the globe.

As Jim Skea, co-chair of the IPCC working group that finalized the report, stated: “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 C (2.7 F). Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”

Hanley pointed out the IPCC report came out shortly before the release of the federal 2030 emissions reduction plan, a document he described as “a really ambitious plan” for the country that will move Canada towards doing its part globally to reduce emissions with a target of 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and to get to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Included in the emissions reduction plan are programs for more efficient buildings, funding for community climate initiatives, and electric vehicle infrastructure such as charging stations, renewable energy initiatives and more.

“It’s really important to show that leadership,” Hanley said, adding that a lot of initiatives set out in the emissions reduction plan apply to the territory, such as the move to more renewable energy options that can be seen in the proposed hydro expansion project with Atlin.

Nils Clarke, the territory’s Environment minister, also cited a number of initiatives underway at the territorial level, noting that while the Yukon does not represent a lot of emissions, it wants to be a leader in the country.

“And I think we’re on the right track,” he said in an April 21 interview.

He, too, pointed to plans for hydro expansion, pumped storage and more, acknowledging that while many don’t want the territory to be using diesel and liquefied natural gas, 93 to 95 per cent of the territory’s energy comes from renewable energy.

Clarke, who is also the minister of Highways and Public Works, also pointed to efforts that are bringing more electric vehicle charging stations online in the territory, with travellers now able to travel from Watson Lake to Dawson City by electric vehicle with chargers located along the route.

The most recent chargers were installed in Teslin, Whitehorse, Carmacks, Pelly Crossing, Mayo, Watson Lake and Dawson City in 2021.

While Clarke noted the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 C will be a global challenge, he also noted his optimism in the efforts underway.

The IPCC report notes that while average annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels between 2010 and 2019, the rate of growth has since slowed.

At the same time the costs of solar, wind energy and batteries have decreased with an increasing range of policies and laws in various regions enhancing energy efficiency, reducing deforestation and accelerating of renewable energy options.

As IPCC chair Hoesung Lee stated after the report was released: “We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a livable future. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming. I am encouraged by climate action being taken in many countries. There are policies, regulations and market instruments that are proving effective. If these are scaled up and applied more widely and equitably, they can support deep emissions reductions and stimulate innovation.

The report goes on to state that limiting global warming will require major transitions in the energy sector, including a substantial reduction in fossil fuel use, more widespread electrification, energy efficiency improvements and the use of alternative fuels such as hydrogen.

“Having the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place to enable changes to our lifestyles and behaviour can result in a 40 to 70 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This offers significant untapped potential,” said Priyadarshi Shukla, a co-chair with the IPCC working group that put the report together.

Also noted were opportunities to reduce emissions in more urban areas, by creating more compact, walkable communities, electrification of transport and enhanced carbon storage.

Industry possibilities were also cited that would use materials more efficiently, reusing and recycling of products and minimizing waste. Low to zero greenhouse gas production processes are in the pilot and near-commercial stage for production of things like steel, building materials and chemicals.

Achieving net zero will require new production processes, low to zero emissions electricity, hydrogen and, where necessary, carbon capture and storage, the report states.

“We see examples of zero-energy or zero-carbon buildings in almost all climates,” Skea said. “Action in this decade is critical to capture the mitigation potential of buildings.”

It also shows that to limit global warming to about 1.5 C will require greenhouse gas emissions to peak ahead of 2025 and be reduced by 43 per cent by 2030 while methane would also need to be reduced by about a third globally.

The assessment also shows that limiting warming to around 2 C (3.6 F) still requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by a quarter by 2030.

Many are marking April 22, Earth Day, with tributes made in the legislature and a proclamation declared by the City of Whitehorse to mark the day.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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