Canada’s Auditor General says Yukon not doing enough about climate change

Shirley McLean
The Yukon has not done enough to respond to climate change according to Canada’s auditor general’s latest report released this week.

According to a report released this week, temperatures in the Yukon have risen faster than the national average.

“Yukon is experiencing significant changes which are affecting it’s land wildlife and people,” said Casey Thomas with the Auditor General’s office. “These changes can damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and traditional ways of life.”

The report says “the government of Yukon developed a climate change strategy, an action plan, and two progress reports, but it made weak comments.”

Thomas examined four Yukon government departments from 2006 to 2017.

She said even though Yukon has committed to reducing its carbon footprint and adapting to climate change, it’s not doing a very good job.

“The department need to turn their commitments into concrete action,” she said. “To successfully adapt to the impacts of climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The impacts of climate change are being seen everywhere.

Warmer temperatures mean more snow, rain and flash floods.

Lakes and rivers are not freezing, and permafrost thaw is wreaking havoc causing expensive damage to roads and buildings.

The report makes four recommendations for Yukon to improve its approach to climate change.

The report recommends

1) Yukon’s Climate Change Secretariat prepare a comprehensive territory wide risk assessment to help prioritize commitments to manage impacts of climate change
2) Yukon should develop climate change commitments that are time-bound and costed and greenhouse gas emissions should indicate the intended levels of reductions.
3) The Climate Change Secretariat should publically report in a consistent manner on the progress and cost associated with meeting the commitments.
4) Yukon should complete their work to carry out concrete actions in a timely manner to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The Minister of Environment Pauline Frost said climate change is a priority and “it’s an audit of the previous government but it’s also a report card on what we can do better and I’m really pleased about that it gives us some benchmarks to work towards.”

Temperatures in Whitehorse are hovering around five degrees – last year at this time it was minus 25.

The Auditor General will release a national climate change report in the spring.

The Yukon government said it will review its climate change plan.

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