Shane Thompson: Continuing Climate Leadership

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Yellowknife — December 7, 2021

Check against delivery



Mr. Speaker, climate change is one of the most critical issues we face today.  I am pleased to report on actions the GNWT is taking to address its impacts here in the NWT.

As a territory, we are responsible for less than 0.2% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions but we are experiencing climate warming at a rate that is three times the global average.

We are already seeing significant changes that are impacting our environment, our economy, our infrastructure, and our way of life.  We are seeing changing ice conditions, coastal erosion, rising sea levels, and melting permafrost.    

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to taking action to address these destructive impacts.

Later today, we will table multiple annual reports highlighting work that has been done with our partners to mitigate and adapt to climate change across the NWT.

I would like to highlight a few of these actions today.

In January, we became one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to include consideration of climate change factors in Cabinet and Financial Management Board decision-making.

Assessing the potential impacts of government decisions on climate change ensures that meaningful and consistent climate action is taken across departments and improves our accountability on climate action.

We have also worked with our partners to establish a Climate Change Council that includes members from Indigenous governments and community leaders.  The Council will include Advisory Groups such as youth, Elders, community governments, industry, non-government organizations, co-management boards and academia who will inform priorities of the Climate Change Action Plan.  In addition, the Council will also include various Advisory Panels such as the Water Stewardship Panel, the Cumulative Impacts Monitoring Program Panel, and the Sustainable Livelihoods Panel that will provide advice and recommendations. 

The Council and advisory groups are important forums to bring together community perspectives and expert guidance as we face a changing climate. 

Mr. Speaker, climate action takes investment in people and programming.

Over the last year, our government has made significant investments when it comes to addressing climate change. We have invested nearly $56 million dollars and have created 15 new positions across government to work on climate change actions.

In 2021, the Department of Infrastructure invested over $38 million dollars, as part of the 2030 Energy Strategy, for energy and greenhouse gas reduction projects and programs, which resulted in 3.6 kilotonnes of greenhouse gas emission reductions. This $38 million included significant investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, such as providing over $5.3 million dollars to the Arctic Energy Alliance, resulting in nearly $2 million in incentives being given out. These incentives help residents, businesses, and communities to be more energy efficient. Our government has also invested roughly $3.8 million dollars in energy retrofits to government assets which has contributed to our own emission reductions over the last year.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Finance continued its efforts on carbon pricing over the last year. The price per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions rose to $30 dollars, and we provided rebates for residents to reduce the burden caused by the high costs associated with residential heating.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to highlight that earlier this month the GNWT participated in the 26th Conference of the Parties in Glasgow, Scotland as part of the Canadian delegation. It is unfortunate that due to the pandemic, Indigenous participation was not as fully represented this year as at previous conferences. I am hopeful that Indigenous participation will return to pre-COVID levels at future conferences, and commit to working with Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations through the Climate Change Council to support Indigenous participation in the future.

COP26 was an opportunity for the GNWT to engage directly with the Government of Canada to advocate for NWT climate change interests and to highlight the unique challenges and opportunities that exist in the NWT. We shared ideas, learned from others, and brought back knowledge to inform our efforts on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Our government will continue to lead in the fight against climate change. We will keep working closely with Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations, the federal government, community leaders, academics, industry, and non-government organizations, who are our allies in taking action on climate change.

The GNWT has accomplished a lot over the past year in addressing climate change but there is still work to be done. We must all work together to find solutions to address climate change in the Northwest Territories and continue this important work. I know that we will all rise to the challenge.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.