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Ministers talk GHG, offer few specifics

Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Tom Nevakshonoff (right) with Ontario counterpart Glen Murray.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Tom Nevakshonoff (right) with Ontario counterpart Glen Murray.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/6/2015 (1751 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

CANADA'S environment ministers admit it's been a long time since they jointly turned their attention to climate change, but they vow to change their ways.

The ministers wrapped up a two-day meeting in Winnipeg on Tuesday devoted mainly to greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction -- the first time in about a decade the issue has taken centre stage at one of their annual gatherings.

The ministers announced they have formed a committee to look into ways governments can co-operate on GHG reduction.

But apart from this agreement and some self-congratulation, the ministers were short on specifics.

Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Tom Nevakshonoff, who hosted the ministerial meeting, said the province would unveil its new target sometime before a Paris conference in autumn.

Meanwhile, Alberta and Ontario officially joined Manitoba in a broad alliance to address cross-border water quality issues by signing the Lake Friendly Accord. The goal of the initiatives is to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen loading in waterways in Manitoba and beyond.

With environment ministers meeting in Winnipeg about climate change, we asked three environment experts to answer, in 100 words or less, this question: If Manitoba got serious and made climate change its top priority, ahead of economic prosperity or seeking re-election, what specific measures would make this province a leader in climate rehabilitation?

Scott Forbes, biology professor, U of W: Climate change is happening, and Manitoba will be among the most strongly affected. Our policy priority should be adaptation to effects that are now inescapable, even if we could curtail all greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow. Our greatest challenge will be managing water resources for extremes of flood and drought. In changing environments, the past becomes a poor guide to the future. More severe floods are likely to occur with increasing frequency, and our hydrological models are quickly becoming obsolete. For Manitobans, events over the last several decades have shown us that climate change has already arrived. Welcome to the future.

Shannon Martin, Progressive Conservative conservation critic: Climate change and the consequences of inaction remain one of the largest economic and environmental threats to our province and planet. While we may not be the largest greenhouse gas contributor, we can be a leader in finding solutions. Success won't be achieved through announcements long on politics and short on meaningful, sustainable results. We need to look at attainable, smaller goals that collectively make a difference while supporting larger-scale, long-term solutions. For example, we would work with Saskatchewan and the federal government to protect our environment by preserving wetlands and advancing the concept of alternative land use.

Andrew Park, Green party: Manitoba should invest in a diversified energy portfolio that includes geothermal, solar, wind and biomass power. Diversification will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on hydro power, which has environmental downsides of its own. We also need to promote and expand efficiency and retrofit programs such as Manitoba Hydro's affordable energy loans. Comprehensive nutrient management and manure control are needed to reduce agricultural emissions. And finally, we need an integrated transit program that will go beyond our current limited investments in rapid transit to provide all Winnipeggers a viable alternative to commuting by car.

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History

Updated on Wednesday, June 24, 2015 at 6:30 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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