Climate resilience plan unveiled Thursday

Environment Minister Dustin Duncan. Photo courtesy Government of Saskatchewan.

A newly-released piece of Saskatchewan’s climate change plan includes targets aimed at measuring the province’s resiliency.

Saskatchewan’s Climate Resilience Measurement Framework was released on NOvember 29, 2018. It includes 25 indicators in five key areas to “track and report across all areas of focus to convey progress in making our province more resilient to climate change,” the report reads.

The province says resiliency is the ability to cope with, adapt to and recover from stress and change, including changing environmental and the ability to thrive in a low-carbon economy.

According to the document, the province is establishing “absorptive capacity” to prepare for, manage and recover from impacts, “adaptive capacity” by adopting deliberate actions and planned decisions to increase Saskatchewan’s ability to respond to climatic shocks and stresses and “transformative capacity” to reduce vulnerability.

The five key areas are natural systems, physical infrastructure, economic sustainability, community preparedness and human well-being.

“Our government has made significant progress in the development of Prairie Resilience since it was announced nearly one year ago,” Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said.

“This new resilience framework covers a broad and balanced set of measures that will help to ensure we are working to protect Saskatchewan people and communities from a changing climate. This is an important part of our comprehensive plan that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve better results than a singular carbon tax policy.”
NDP environment critic Yens Pederson said it’s good to see the indicators measured, but added that it was needed 11 years ago.

“We’re a little late to the table, and what we can see from their announcement is that most of these measures are dealing with Saskatchewan’s adaptation to climate change, not addressing our greenhouse gas footprint,” he said.

“That inaction on greenhouse gases is what opened the door to the federal government to come in here and impose a carbon tax.”

The province previously released emissions reductions targets for a number of industries. Those targets were acknowledged by the federal government, which has exempted Saskatchewan from some elements of its carbon tax backstop.

However, the province didn’t impose those targets on certain segments, such as fuel consumption or power generation. Where the province chose not to impost targets the federal government applied the carbon tax backstop, which will come into effect in 2019 on fuel consumption and power generation, with some exemptions.

Some of the targets announced:

  • Maintain native prairie, tame pasture and tame hay cover level at 19.93 million hectares
  • Maintain soil organic matter sequestration level of 5.6 million tonnes per year
  • By 2025, 25% of cropland under 4R nutrient stewardship designation
  • By 2020 100% of forest management plans to include targets that identify age class profile by area
  • Protect 12 per cent of land by 2020
  • Increase the culverts meeting new provincial flood standard
  • 10% of SaskPower right-of-ways cleared to widened maintenance standard per year
  • No one crop type to rise about 50% of cultivated area
  • 100% of forest harvest designs incorporating natural disturbance patterns
  • 100% of communities at risk of flooding having completed floodplain mapping by 2030
  • All at risk communities have wildfire operational pre-plans by 2036
  • By 2030, complete wildfire fuel management work in 747 hectares of crown land adjacent to communities