Yukon Government’s Bold Climate Change Action Plan

Wade Istchenko, MLA for Kluane

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, July 17th, 2015
by Wade Istchenko, Minister of Environment

With Premier Pasloski wrapping up his trip to St. John’s to meet with other provincial and territorial leaders at the Council of the Federation, I would like to take a moment and update you on the accomplishments our government has achieved on climate change.

Since the development of the Climate Change Action Plan in 2009, our government has demonstrated its leadership and commitment to the issue of climate change by focusing on greenhouse gas emissions reduction activity and increasing adaptation efforts in response to the impacts of the changing climate.

Our 33 item Climate Change Action Plan aims to enhance knowledge and understanding of climate change; improve our ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and lead Yukon action in response to climate change.

It is with great pleasure that I can share with Yukoners that just six years into our plan, 31 of the 33 original priority actions are either complete or are on track and continuing.

Our 2012 Action Plan Update highlighted accomplishments such as establishing the Yukon Research Centre at Yukon College for the purpose of innovation, research and outreach as well as implementing efforts to address emissions from buildings through the development and application of a made-in-Yukon energy efficient standard for construction, among others. Yet another accomplishment was the creation of the Climate Change Secretariat.

Despite the successes highlighted in 2012, our government has not rested in our commitment to the issue of climate change. We continue to remain flexible and responsive to new and emerging climate change realities and needs.

Since 2012, the Yukon government has launched new initiatives to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and respond to climate change impacts.

In 2013, a study of Yukon’s transportation sector yielded important information about Yukon government transport emissions. Our government also completed detailed energy audits of seven identified high-consumption buildings.

Most recently, Yukon government’s Climate Change Secretariat co-launched an online portal that enables the sharing of climate change adaptation information across the circumpolar arctic. We are also working with the federal department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to support nine adaption projects over four years to address important issues such as the impacts of permafrost thaw on highways, buildings, and water.

In addition, we supported Yukon homeowners with the newly launched Good Energy Residential Incentives Program. We expanded hydroelectricity and transmission capacity at the Aishihik and Mayo plants, and provided the opportunity for residential and commercial electricity customers to generate electricity from renewable energy sources and sell surplus electricity to the grid through our Micro-generation Policy.

Our government remains committed to implementing the Climate Change Action Plan. While there is still work to be done, I am proud of the work carried out by this government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to address the very real impact that climate change is having in the North.

Everyone plays a part in addressing a sustainable environment and it is important that we all take responsibility. Our government will continue to identify and address important climate change issues and I encourage all of you to think about your day to day actions as stewards of the environment.