Marty Klyne

Marty Klyne
PSG - Saskatchewan

The new year provides a fresh opportunity for an inclusive and more unified Canadian plan on energy and the environment, with the indispensable involvement of Western Canada. There cannot be a Canadian solution to the climate crisis without the West’s buy-in and participation. A lack of collaboration and consultation can only lead to societal division, economic anxiety and environmental catastrophe. Where does that leave young people and future generations?

The heat dome of 2021, wildfires, atmospheric rivers and floods have underscored the need for an effective and practical climate strategy across Canada. The West, and Saskatchewan in particular, have much to contribute. Saskatchewan’s strengths include leadership on carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies; small modular reactor development; uranium production; freshwater infrastructure; the world’s first clean coal power station at the Boundary Dam; sustainable agriculture; and biofuels. Saskatchewanians can punch above our weight in national efforts to reduce emissions and better prepare for the effects of climate change.

In turn, I think Saskatchewanians would like to hear more about a clear and realistic picture of Canada’s future. We all want to understand how we get there together and how our contributions will play a role in mission net-zero.

All members of the federation need to do their part to meet Canada’s international, scientifically required obligations. When it comes to climate change, we are all part of the problem and we must all be part of the solution.

Fortunately, there is cause for optimism toward a more unified Canadian approach.

On the energy front, the federal government made substantial commitments on CCUS technologies in the 2021-22 budget. Natural Resources Canada has now received engineering and design studies to fund CCUS projects that have the potential to significantly mitigate emissions. The department has also launched “Just Transition” consultations, focused on preparing workers to prosper in a low-carbon economy. Additionally, construction on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project continues. The Edmonton terminal was more than 50% complete as of December 2021 and mechanical completion of the pipeline expansion is anticipated by the end of 2022.

On the environment, in June, Parliament passed Bill C-12, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, requiring an emissions reduction plan aimed at the key dates of 2030 and 2050, a blueprint for the accountability of current and future national leaders. Budget 2021 funded on-farm climate action that can help accelerate those reductions by improving nitrogen management, increasing the use of cover cropping and normalizing rotational grazing, as well as preserving trees and wetlands. All major parties made climate commitments in the 2021 federal election and the COP26 climate summit achieved incremental progress toward more effective international efforts.

Together, these developments create space for greater co-operation on energy and the environment in the Canadian federation. In May 2021, at the Senate Committee on National Finance, I asked Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland about the federal government’s need to demonstrate major creation of green jobs in the West. I was pleased to hear Minister Freeland’s response: “Canada will only be successful in acting on climate change if we have a plan that involves the whole country and that creates great green jobs across the country.”

Recognizing that effective consultation is a two-way street, provincial, territorial, Indigenous and municipal governments across Canada should look for opportunities to work with Ottawa and with each other to deliver economic and climate results. An ad hoc group of senators is also working to foster greater federal-provincial co-operation.

In September, through the leadership of Senator Peter Harder, the Senate Prosperity Action Group released a report to support this goal. We recommended that governments look at co-investing with venture capital on commercialization opportunities in CCUS; leverage our position as a major producer of key minerals required for batteries, solar panels and wind turbines; and continue to reduce agricultural emissions through innovation.

Another key recommendation was to create a new Prosperity Council as a neutral and independent body to co-ordinate and support federal-provincial co-operation. A Prosperity Council could help by publishing research, convening meetings, promoting dialogue among governments and stakeholders, studying potential policy options and opportunities, and measuring objectives.

Businesses can also help build greater Canadian unity on an energy and environment plan. Detailed and practical thinking from the private sector — like RBC’s recent roadmap to net zero — should inform federal and provincial efforts on climate action.

While it’s true that the time to have planted a tree was 20 years ago, it’s not too late to start. In 2022, all Canadians should contribute to a more unified national plan on energy and the environment. The common refrain across the country should be: “Let’s do it.”

Senator Marty Klyne represents Saskatchewan in the Senate.

A version of this article appeared in the January 6, 2022 edition of the Regina Leader-Post.

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