Photo: Winds of change blow across the Prairies

(Credit: Anthony Quintano via Flickr)

By Kyle Aben, Climate and Clean Energy Policy Analyst

Just three years ago, the David Suzuki Foundation produced All over the map 2012: A comparison of provincial climate change plans. The report found Saskatchewan was the largest per capita producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. "It is difficult to image a province taking the threats of climate change less seriously," it pointed out. Fortunately, this statement can no longer be made about the province known for its CFL football fans, Gordie Howe and strong community spirit.

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On November 18, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announced that his province has committed to 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030. The province will employ solar, wind and geothermal energy to reduce its reliance on coal and natural gas to produce electricity. This is a dramatic increase from the previous goal of 12 per cent wind generation by 2030. The shift will allow Saskatchewan to reduce coal-fired electricity generation and the pollution and related health impacts it creates. SaskPower plans to release details of the plan to reach 50 per cent renewable energy next week, but one thing is clear: Canada's provinces are taking the lead on climate policies in the lead-up to the Paris UN climate negotiations later this month.

British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec have been Canadian leaders in climate change policy for several years, but provinces like Saskatchewan and Alberta are now also taking concrete steps to reduce the effects of climate change. Next week, Alberta is expected to release its climate change action plan and provide details on an accelerated phase-out of coal-generated power. In advance of the most important international climate meeting since 1997, Canadians should be encouraged that our provinces are ready to enact solutions.

Momentum is building across Canada for a shift to the policies we need to succeed in resolving the climate crisis. The final piece of the puzzle will be strong leadership from the federal government to create ambitious emissions reduction targets, a price on all carbon emissions, investments in low-carbon infrastructure like transit and renewable energy and strong efficiency standards for vehicles and buildings.

Many provinces and cities are demonstrating commitments to do their fair share to address climate change. The timing couldn't be better. As impressive as our provinces' efforts have been, a concerted national effort led by the new federal government will allow Canadians to stand tall as we do our part to combat global warming.

As leaders across the country work to show support for climate action, it's important for ordinary Canadians to do the same. Events like the 100% Possible march in support of climate action in Ottawa on November 29, along with related events across Canada, are one way to get involved. You can also email your premier, local MP, or the prime minister himself to express how much climate action matters to you. When we all speak up, extraordinary leadership will follow.

YES — I'll send a message to Canada's leaders.

November 19, 2015

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