Environment Minister Ross Wiseman (left) and Natural Resources Minister Shawn Skinner held a news conference Tuesday to announce action plans for two projects. Wiseman spoke on the province’s plans to deal with climate change while Skinner talked about plans to increase energy efficiency. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram
The provincial government re-leased two documents Tuesday that it said will help Newfoundland and Labrador meet its goals on climate change and energy efficiency.
The papers, Climate Change Action Plan 2011 and Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2011, outline areas on these two topics the province sees as challenges and lists how government, business and the public can contribute to overcoming them.
Ross Wiseman, minister of environment and conservation, said Tuesday it will take the combined efforts of all three to combat climate change.
He added these action plans are a good outline on how that can be achieved.
“We’ve tried in our plan to recognize that everyone has a role to play, be it business, be it homeowners or industry sectors,” said Wiseman.
“This is a pretty broad approach that we’re taking here. We’re covering a lot of sectors in our economy. We believe with these initiatives, working in partnership particularly with industry, we’ll be able to achieve the targets we’ve set out for ourselves,” he said.
Those targets were set several years ago at a meeting between the Atlantic region premiers and the New England States governors.
At that meeting it was agreed the region would attempt to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 10 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.
But whether or not this province will meet that goal is up for debate.
A lot of factors would have to fall into place, including the significant efforts by citizens to reduce their solid waste, efforts by the province and business to cut down on their electricity consumption and the shutdown of the Holyrood thermal power plant.
The climate change action plan stresses the Holyrood Station must be shutdown if the province has any hope of meeting its goals. The outlook also shows that Newfoundland and Labrador is unlikely to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals unless the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project goes ahead.
That doesn’t sit well with Fred Winsor, conservation chairman for the Atlantic Canada Chapter of the Sierra Club.
“We can in Newfoundland shut down Holyrood (power plant) without Muskrat Falls. I think the evidence is quite clear, we have the best wind energy resource in North America, bar none, and we’ve researched it. And there’s lots of other opportunities in terms of producing green energy in this province that are not being taken advantage of,” said Winsor.
But he wasn’t entirely critical of the province’s climate change action plan.
“There are some good things in it, in that they are trying to move forward. But there are things which could be done that could accelerate the whole process significantly,” he said.
Two of those efforts would be passing legislation allowing feed-in tariffs, allowing private citizens to sell excess green energy to the power grid, the other effort being to fund a regional transportation system.