Canada’s Auditor General advises NWT to improve climate change strategy

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Canada’s Auditor General feels that the GNWT hasn’t shown the leadership the territory required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change impacts.

In a statement made Wednesday at the Legislative Assembly, Federal Auditor General Michael Ferguson shared his report on climate change in the Northwest Territories.

…these strategies lacked meaningful targets and did not include concrete actions for major emitters.”

Ferguson acknowledged the severity of the risk of climate change in the North. He spoke about the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Infrastructure’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to adapt to climate change impacts. He added that the audit was part of a larger climate change audit initiative, which “involved several legislative audit offices across Canada.

Ferguson wasn’t particularly impressed.

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Overall, we found that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources did not provide the leadership that the territory required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change impacts.

He would go on to say that Department fell behind and never caught back up.

For the past 10 years, the Department has repeatedly committed to creating a territorial strategy for adapting to climate change. We found that the Department had not developed one and, as a result, had not set out clear and specific adaptation priorities to address the climate change risks that the territory faces.

Ferguson continued: “Instead, the Department focused on territorial greenhouse gas emission strategies, but these strategies lacked meaningful targets and did not include concrete actions for major emitters.

The Department also failed to correct long-standing deficiencies in its climate change leadership. Specifically, it did not determine the resources or authority it needed to carry out its leadership responsibilities or establish a network of professionals to support action and the exchange of information on climate change.

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As part of the audit, Ferguson also examined specific adaptation efforts undertaken by the Department of ENR and the Department of Infrastructure.

Overall, eight recommendations were issued by Ferguson after the report was completed. He stressed that while work had been initially put in to limit climate change, more needs to be done.

Establishing the appropriate authority and leadership will be critical to the success of this framework. Also critical will be the accountability for results and a continued focus on the framework beyond its release—something we did not see in past strategies.

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