Robert C. McLeod: Climate Change Strategic Framework

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has made a commitment in its Mandate to develop a territorial climate change strategy and I wanted to tell Members about the work that is underway.

As you know, climate change is occurring at an accelerated pace in the Northwest Territories.  We have no choice but to be leaders in addressing, and adapting to the impacts of climate change in our communities.

The Northwest Territories is warming at a rate four to five times faster than global averages and this is causing significant changes to the natural environment.

These changes include: thawing and degradation of permafrost; shorter winters; longer and drier summers; changes in wildland fire patterns; shrinking sea ice; and increased coastal erosion. This is resulting in impacts on species, ecosystems, water quality and quantity, the health and well-being of residents, Aboriginal cultures, infrastructure, buildings and some economic activities.  

Risks to economic, social and cultural values in our communities will intensify if climate change continues to affect our ability to maintain our traditional pursuits and lifestyle. Mr. Speaker, climate change mitigation and adaptation, the high cost of living and reducing our territory’s reliance on diesel-generated power are key priorities for the government and we are actively working on climate change at a national and territorial level.

The Government of Canada is developing a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. Four federal-provincial-territorial working groups were established to begin implementation work. The NWT is participating in all four groups, working on adaptation and climate resilience, mitigation opportunities, carbon pricing mechanisms and clean technology, innovation and jobs.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is developing an NWT Climate Change Strategic Framework. This Framework will act as a road map for our efforts during the next five to ten years as we continue to deal with the impacts of climate change. It will identify ways the NWT can contribute to national emissions reductions and benefit from investments in clean energy, adaptation and low-carbon infrastructure.

The Department of Public Works and Services is leading the development of an Energy Strategy. A key objective of both of these strategic initiatives is reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, ENR and PWS are coordinating joint public engagement on energy and climate change issues.

Engagement on the Climate Change Strategic Framework and the Energy Strategy will involve a series of workshops and regional public information sessions starting at the end of October.

ENR has developed fact sheets and a backgrounder to help inform residents and interested stakeholders prior to holding these workshops and community public information sessions.

Mr. Speaker, the Framework will be developed in partnership with NWT residents and key stakeholders. It will rest on three key pillars: knowledge; resilience and adaptation; and economy, innovation and emissions.

It will better prepare the NWT to adapt to climate change impacts by improving monitoring, planning, coordination and implementation. The Framework will build on existing strategies and initiatives and include significant public engagement and input, and explore key linkages between the Climate Change Strategic Framework and the Energy Strategy. The Energy Strategy will focus on energy supply and use in the NWT, including electricity, renewable and alternative energy, heating, transportation and energy efficiency. Development of the Climate Change Strategic Framework and the Energy Strategy will complement each other to ensure economic, social and cultural needs are considered without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.  

Topics for discussion at workshops and public information sessions will include: building knowledge of climate change impacts and opportunities; identifying priorities for monitoring and risk assessments; finding ways to increase resilience and adaptive capacity to withstand climate change impacts; improving energy use and supply in communities; reducing greenhouse gas emissions and cost of living; exploring carbon pricing and making meaningful contribution to national and international efforts to reduce emissions.

I look forward to thorough and meaningful engagement in the coming months.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.