Regina summit discusses climate change, transition to low-carbon economy

Experts from across Saskatchewan gathered in Regina over the weekend to discuss climate change and how the province can phase out fossil fuels in a way that makes sense.

“In Saskatchewan, as a province, we’re not having that conversation right now,” said climate change activist Jared Clarke. “We know that climate change is real, we know that it’s going to have huge implications for Saskatchewan and we need to transition off of fossil fuels.

“How do we do that in a way that protects workers that makes sure they can still put food on the table for their families?”

The conference is part of the Just Transition Summit, a two-day event, which included presentations on phasing out fossil fuels from the electrical grid and transitioning industry, while ensuring sustainable livelihoods for workers and Indigenous communities.

The summit was organized in response to a recent report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), calling for a drastic reduction in emissions by 2030.

Members of Climate Justice Saskatoon discussed their findings after spending time with residents in Coronach and Estevan, two Saskatchewan communities that rely on coal production.

“[Residents] felt like, not that they weren’t being brought to the table, but that it wasn’t even on the agenda,” said Hayley Carlson, a volunteer with Climate Justice Saskatoon. “No one is really talking about the implications of climate change for communities like Coronach and Estevan that will be disproportionately impacted by the specific policy of coal phase-out.”

The group said residents have been left shrouded by a cloud of uncertainty and still don’t know how the transition to a low carbon economy will impact them. As well, members of the Indigenous community say they’re not being included in the discussion, either.

“Indigenous peoples contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions but we are impacted the most and often the first in our communities,” said Michelle Brass, a member of the Steering Committee for Indigenous Climate Action.

Brass said it’s about working together and protecting those most impacted by the transition to renewable energy.

The two-day summit wrapped up on Sunday, Oct. 28

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