Auditor general says Nunavut, territories not ready for climate change - 660 NEWS
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Auditor general says Nunavut, territories not ready for climate change

Last Updated Mar 13, 2018 at 4:00 pm MDT

A snowmobiler makes his way through the ice heaves in Frobisher Bay in Iqaluit, Nunavut on Wednesday, December 10, 2014. The federal auditor general says Nunavut isn't doing enough to get ready for climate change. In his report released today, James McKenzie says the effects of climate change are increasingly visible across the territory. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

IQALUIT, Nunavut – Nunavut isn’t doing enough to prepare for climate change, says the federal auditor general’s office in a report to the territorial legislature.

“Although (Nunavut) had strategies for adapting to climate change and managing the territory’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, it did not have implementation plans that outlined how and when the objectives of the strategies would be met and who would be responsible for what,” says principal auditor James McKenzie in the report tabled Tuesday.

He echoes two other reports already delivered to Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

McKenzie points out that Canada’s North is experiencing climate change more quickly than almost anywhere else in the world.

In Nunavut, for example, average temperatures have already increased by up to 2.7 degrees compared with 1.7 degrees in Canada as a whole.

Northerners are particularly affected by unpredictable sea ice, often used as a hunting platform or for travel. Residents in all three territories are seeing impacts on buildings, roads and runways as the permafrost beneath them melts.

At the same time, all depend heavily on fossil fuels for everything from transportation to power generation.

In Nunavut, McKenzie found that the government created a climate change strategy as far back as 2011 to help communities deal with problems. That plan came with 11 objectives, including partnerships, research and monitoring and education.

“The strategy did not explain who would be responsible for achieving the objectives and lacked timelines for completing actions,” McKenzie writes.

A 2014 draft action plan was never finalized either.

Nunavut also lacks specific plans to reduce its consumption of fossil fuel, McKenzie says. Almost all the electricity in the territory is generated by diesel.

A response from the Nunavut government was not immediately available Tuesday.

Last October, a report about the Northwest Territories concluded the Environment Department didn’t take the leadership role it should have.

“Departments and communities pursued their own adaptation efforts. Consequently, the government did not know whether the territory was doing enough to adapt to climate change impacts, whether the areas of greatest risk were being addressed, and whether the adaptation actions of one department or community had negatively affected another.”

A report delivered to Yukon in December said that while the territory had made a good start, it failed to follow up.

“Many of the commitments did not include milestones or completion dates,” the report said. “In addition, the government did not systematically assess the risks associated with climate change before it defined its commitments.”

Governments in both Yukon and the N.W.T. have since said they will follow the reports’ recommendations.

Yukon Environment Minister Pauline Frost said completion dates and costs for climate change promises will be released next year after a public comment period.

The N.W.T.’s response to the auditor is being finalized after a public comment period. Plans and strategies are expected to be released this spring.

All three northern territories signed an agreement in 2009 to work together on meeting climate change challenges.

— By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow him on Twitter at @row1960

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version identified James McKenzie as the federal auditor general.

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