When the Saskatchewan legislature opened for business again on May 17th, Brad Wall’s Speech from the Throne included the following paragraphs:
But it is troubling that today, there are some in this country who, given the opportunity, would shut down major parts of Saskatchewan’s economy and put thousands of hard-working Saskatchewan people out of work, all in the name of some misguided dogma that has no basis in reality.
There are those who are not comfortable with and even oppose much of what we produce in Saskatchewan and how we produce it – oil and gas, coal and uranium, livestock and grains.
They would prefer that those sectors did not exist and that the thousands of jobs in those sectors did not exist.
They look at those jobs like they are somehow harming the country and the world.
Quite apart from the general tone of paranoia, this looked very much like denial of the science of climate change. In response to a national petition and some national media coverage, Wall’s spokespeople said that no, it was only criticising the Leap Manifesto.
Given that the Leap Manifesto is itself based on scientifically understood climate reality – and Brad Wall’s policies aren’t – we think this makes no difference. So we need to keep up the pressure – and push Brad Wall to tell us what he really believes about the climate crisis, and stop blocking real climate action.
To do that we asked people to sign on to the following letter and got more than 250 signatures in a matter of days.
An open letter to Premier Brad Wall from concerned citizens
Premier Brad Wall
226 Legislative Building
May 24, 2016
Re: climate change
Dear Mr. Wall,
In your Speech from the Throne you referred to “some in this country who, given the opportunity, would shut down major parts of Saskatchewan’s economy and put thousands of hard-working Saskatchewan people out of work, all in the name of some misguided dogma that has no basis in reality”.
This is a serious accusation, and the people of Saskatchewan deserve a full and detailed explanation. As a public servant, it is your duty to tell us: (i) who are the people about whom you are making this accusation, and (ii) the nature of the alleged “misguided dogma”.
We are not clear whether you are insulting and misinterpreting (a) climate scientists, (b) the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries, (c) informed citizens who are calling for an orderly decades-long transition to clean energy, or (d) Indigenous people protecting the land and water with which they have been in relationship since time immemorial. Or, indeed, some combination of the above. Whichever is the case, it seems an extraordinary step for a premier to take.
It would help us all if you were to answer a few questions as to your understanding of the climate crisis. These are not merely rhetorical questions: we want answers from you as our chief public servant:
- Do you accept the scientific consensus that the earth is warming, that consequently the climate is changing in diverse and potentially devastating ways, and that this results primarily from human activity in the form of greenhouse gas emissions?
- Do you acknowledge that our dependence on fossil fuels is responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions?
- Do you agree or disagree with the well-established findings of climate science that global warming results in more frequent and more extreme weather events, including droughts, floods, heat waves, forest fires, etc, as well as sea level rise?
- Do you accept the detailed research on these climate change impacts which resulted in the key commitment of the Paris Accord to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”?
- Do you accept that Saskatchewan, like all jurisdictions worldwide, has a responsibility to take action commensurate with that ambitious but necessary goal?
- Do you accept the finding of climate scientists that, in order to remain below either of these temperature limits, total future emissions must be limited to a strict global “carbon budget”? – and that the best scientific estimates for the size of this budget mean rapid reductions starting now, and an end to the fossil fuel economy worldwide around mid-century?
- Are you aware that, if the budget for the (higher) 2 °C limit were shared out equally worldwide, Saskatchewan would blow through its share in about 4 years at its current rate of emissions?
- Are you aware that Saskatchewan has the best solar resource and the best inland wind resource in Canada, and is one of the few places in the world where significant quantities of biomass energy could be produced in a sustainable way?
- Are you aware of the enormous potential for job creation in clean renewable energy industries? – according to one recent report, between 6 and 9 times as many jobs per unit of investment than the oil industry. Canada already employed more people in greentech than in the Alberta bitumen sands even before the price volatility of oil precipitated mass lay-offs last year.
- Do you recognize the right of Indigenous people to say no to development proposals which threaten their land and water?
We look forward to hearing your answers.
Climate Justice Saskatoon