Question Period: Net-zero Emissions Future

By: The Hon. Marty Klyne

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Hon. Marty Klyne: Senator Gold, the 2023 federal budget allocated $80 billion to support clean electricity and green infrastructure to help achieve a net-zero electricity grid by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050. However, while 80% of Canada’s population is served by clean hydro power, Saskatchewan has no access to large-scale hydro power to support intermittent renewables like wind and solar. Three coal plants and two natural gas power stations provide 80% of Saskatchewan’s electricity. Of the 10 natural gas power plants in Saskatchewan, half are less than 15 years old and the newest one cost $605 million to build in 2019.

Saskatchewan faces a dilemma through our lack of hydro power and the risk of stranding billions in power-generation assets. Senator Gold, how will the federal government address our province’s unique challenge in considering an equitable path to net zero for all Canadians?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question.

Every province has unique challenges, as we all know, in terms of contributing to our transition to a cleaner economy. Thank you for underlining the commitment the federal government has made — $80 billion — to support this.

What the Government of Canada has been and will continue doing is work with its partners — the provinces. It is not the intention of this government to unilaterally assume it knows best, whether for the government or people of Saskatchewan or those of any other province.

The Government of Canada looks forward to working collaboratively with the Province of Saskatchewan and the sectors within the province who have the expertise close to the ground in order to deliver on the promise, premise and importance of cleaner, more sustainable energy for the people of Saskatchewan.

Senator Klyne: Senator Gold, one of Saskatchewan’s three coal plants was equipped with a carbon capture system in 2014 at a cost of $1.35 billion, and I note it’s the first of its kind in the world. By the end of 2029, Saskatchewan’s two other coal plants must be closed or converted to natural gas or equipped with carbon capture systems. Will the government step up in a substantial and meaningful way to resolve the unique challenges and dilemmas Saskatchewan faces?

Senator Gold: Again, the government will work in partnership with Saskatchewan to address this. It is in the interest of all Canadians regardless of where we all live. Indeed, the Government of Canada knows that carbon management technologies — and there are a range of such approaches — are important tools in the broader toolbox that we all need to work with to reduce or remove emissions. Canada’s Carbon Management Strategy, released just last month, aims to support the deployment of such strategies, and the government will work with the province to that effect.

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