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NWT a climate canary in a coal mine

The Issue: 
Climate change

On Nov. 23 the people of the NWT will vote on who gets to represent the territory for the next three years.

To the successful candidates you will have many challenges. But one that you will hear about immediately is the climate change talks happening in Paris (otherwise known as Conference of the Parties or COP21).

The NWT is viewed by many as a ‘canary in the coal mine’ when it comes to climate change. The two-degree global warming that scientists warn will lead to widespread upheaval will be closer to four degrees here in the NWT. With that will come permafrost thaw, landslides, flooding, drought, forest fires, coastal erosion and more erratic weather, to name a few impacts.

With some notable exceptions (i.e. biomass) our efforts to date to reduce our emissions have not been exemplary.

Ecology North looks forward to working with you to make Northerners proud of our response to climate change. In order for this to happen, the Government of the Northwest Territories needs to engage nationally and internationally on climate change issues, and above all lead by example through the implementation of “made in the North” solutions for greenhouse gas emission reductions, climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Two significant opportunities to engage nationally and internationally have already begun: the Premiers’ Meeting on November 23 and the UN climate change negotiations in Paris. In light of the tragic events in Paris, it is unclear to what degree those outside government will have access to the negotiation. However, it is our understanding that the GNWT will be represented in Paris.

The question is do we want the NWT to be viewed as a leader on climate change, or will we be dragged kicking and screaming into eventual action. If we - who are one of the “most at risk” jurisdictions in the world - will not lead then how do we expect others to.

We hope that the 18th Legislative Assembly will seriously engage on climate change issues including but not limited to the following:

  • Renewing the 2011-15 Greenhouse Gas Strategy with new challenging targets and a clear vision to reach them

  • Implementing a “made in the North” carbon pricing scheme

  • Living up to commitments made in the Solar Strategy

  • Eliminating direct and indirect subsidies to the oil and gas sector

  • Working collaboratively with industry to reduce emissions

  • Making progress toward reductions in transportation emissions

  • Helping communities adapt to changes gracefully.


Ecology North welcomes your questions, and looks forward to working in a positive relationship with all members of the 18th Legislative Assembly.

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