Robert C. McLeod: Climate Change Framework Next Steps

Delivered on October 19, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the NWT is on the front lines of climate change and has been experiencing its impacts for decades. Our government is committed to addressing the threats that climate change poses to the sustainability of our communities and the way of life of our residents.

The Government of the Northwest Territories is actively engaged in a comprehensive and coordinated response to climate change by developing a Climate Change Strategic Framework, which will guide our efforts on climate change from 2018 to 2030.

This week, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, also known as OAG, released an independent audit report on climate change in the Northwest Territories. Environment and Natural Resources worked proactively with the OAG during the audit process and appreciates the work that has been done. We look forward to using the results of this audit to improve and finalize our planning around energy and climate change adaptation and mitigation in our territory.

Mr. Speaker, the draft Climate Change Strategic Framework has three key areas of focus: ensuring we have a strong understanding of the impacts of climate change; protecting our communities through adaptation and resilience planning; and mitigating our greenhouse gas emissions.

The draft Framework, which was developed through extensive public engagement, is set to be released for further external review by Indigenous governments, stakeholders and the public in the coming weeks. The input gathered from this review, combined with the comments from the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment and the recommendations arising from the OAG Report will guide the GNWT as we finalize the Framework.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources plans to table the final document in the Legislative Assembly during the spring session, after which an Action Plan will be developed.

Working together with the Department of Infrastructure, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is working to ensure planning is aligned across government in order to ensure we achieve our goal of transitioning to a strong, healthy economy that is less reliant on fossil fuels and where our residents and communities are resilient and adaptive in the face of a changing climate.

As a small jurisdiction acutely challenged by the impacts of climate change, we have shown leadership over the past decade with actions that respond to the impacts we are experiencing. Our government has invested millions in adaptation efforts related to climate change, alternative energy projects, energy retrofits, improved transportation infrastructure and improved building standards. These efforts are ongoing and will be further supported by the staffing of our new Community Adaptation Specialist position, hired specifically to help communities identify and implement local resilience and adaptation initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, various research and monitoring initiatives within the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are already tracking climate change impacts. These include government and community-based water monitoring programs, the Cumulative Impacts Monitoring Program, various wildlife research programs and the GNWT Knowledge Agenda. The GNWT plans to build on this work by supporting further community involvement in the identification, planning and completion of climate change-related research and monitoring efforts.

At the national level, the GNWT is doing its part to honour our commitments under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Canada is committed to a 30 per cent reduction in annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and the GNWT has committed to a similar goal for our territory.

New adaptation funding opportunities at the federal level are anticipated to emerge later this year, and in 2018, under the Pan-Canadian Framework. Our government is actively pursuing federal funding to develop further adaptation initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, audits are critical for evaluating what was done in the past and providing useful input for the future as we continue to fulfill our commitment to protecting the Northern environment.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.