Dear Acting Conservation Minister Dave Chomiak,
I am absolutely appalled at your recent comments to CBC's Michaylo Prystupa regarding Manitoba's efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
In 2008 your government enshrined into law the Climate Change and Emissions Reduction Act. This Act enshrined into law a target of 6% below 1990 levels by 2012. This 2012 target was deliberately set because it mirrored Canada's national Kyoto Protocol GHG reduction target. This government was applauded for enshrining a Kyoto Protocol-compliant target into law in 2008, and while I still have many criticisms in regards to effectiveness of existing policies intended to reduce GHG emissions and the non-existence of other policies needed to reduce GHG emissions, I will acknowledge that at least having a Kyoto-compliant target showed the most minute modicum of leadership
The fact that this Government will fail to meet its target is not surprising, in fact failing to meet GHG reduction targets seems to be a habit of this provincial NDP government. The previous 2002 target stated in Kyoto and Beyond: Meeting and Exceeding Our Kyoto Targets was "...reductions of up to 18 per cent below 1990 levels by 2010, and reductions of up to 23 per cent by 2012." 
But to publicly announce amidst international negotiations in Durban (UNFCC COP17) that your Government was abandoning its Kyoto-compliant target was most irresponsible! Even the climate change denying federal Conservative party had the sense to recognize that it would be foolish to formally announce its withdrawal from Kyoto Protocol during the Durban negotiations. Did you give thought to the impacts that this announcement might have on the ongoing international negotiations?
With a federal Canadian Government that refuses to take sincere action on reducing GHG emissions, it is even more incumbent on provincial governments to show leadership and to forge ahead, with or without the help of their federal counterparts. Given the constant downgrading of Manitoba's emission reduction targets, the ill-timing of this current announcement, and the fact that Gary Doer is now a slick oil-sands salesperson for the Canadian Government, it is hard not to think that this current provincial NDP government is purposefully attempting to sabotage any sincere action towards GHG reductions.
I will also point out that the Climate Change and Emissions Reduction Act, which enshrined the 6% below 1990 levels by 2012 target in law, has never been fully enacted. Sections 7, 8, 11, and 12 will only come into force in October 1, 2012, three months before this government will, by your own acknowledgement, fail to reach the 2012 target enshrined by the law. What is most disappointing is that these unproclaimed sections relate to government operations regarding green building standards for buildings owned or funded by the Government of Manitoba, and fuel efficiency standards for Government of Manitoba vehicles. If the Government itself is unwilling to take leadership, then what message does this send to the rest of the Manitoba?
Now I recognize there was also an acknowledgement that a Manitoba energy plan shall be forthcoming in the New Year. Of course, as with anything, the devil is in the details, but I acknowledge that Manitoba is desperately in need of a comprehensive energy plan, so I look forward to seeing what your Government brings forth in the New Year. I would also like to know what opportunities will be given to the public to provide input on the provincial energy plan?
When then Premier Gary Doer first announced the Climate Change and Emissions Reduction Act, he stated that “...our goal is to reduce emissions here in Manitoba,” so it is somewhat surprising to hear you blame the failure to meet our target on the basis that Manitoba was not able to receive credit for the emissions it reduces abroad through export of hydro-electric energy. I acknowledge that displacing American coal plants has advantages, and helps to reduce global GHG emissions, but presumably this is done because it is profitable to do so; therefore we are not exporting energy as a benevolent act to combat global warming, but because it is in the best interest of our Crown utility, Manitoba Hydro. I, like many Manitobans do not think we should be rewarded for doing something we would have done anyways, rather we should be rewarded for taking concrete actions that reduce emissions here in Manitoba.
Also, I would point that your references to the installation of wind-generated-electricity in Manitoba in regards to actions that reduce Manitoba's emissions seems misleading. The only way that this could be true is if your government was to acknowledge that emissions from hydro-electric reservoirs are higher than you presently acknowledge. Is this the interpretation that I should take? I am a firm believer that we need expanded wind-generating capacity in Manitoba, and I am critical that your government will seemingly also fail to meet the target of 1000 megawatts of installed wind generating capacity by 2015. However installing wind energy will not at present significantly reduce Manitoba's emissions. There are many other good reasons for pursuing alternative renewable energy, such as wind and solar, particularly micro-generation, but in the context of Manitoba these arguments are more about energy autarchy than significant GHG reductions.
Lastly, the fact that Manitoba is a relatively small GHG emitter is also no excuse for failure to reduce our emissions by 6%. While there are some unique challenges in that the bulk of Manitoba's emissions originate from a larger number of small disparate emitters, rather than a smaller number of large emitters, it should also be acknowledged that our relatively low level of emissions in comparison to other provinces means that a 6% decline is that much smaller of a reduction that needs to be achieved.
Answers in Manitoba need to focus on behavioural change and demand management, particularly for our transportation and agricultural sectors. Further, and much more significant investments in public transportation, possibly even making it fare-free may entice urban people to drive less. Following Saskatchewan's lead in implementing a crown-owned inter-city bus carrier may likewise improve access to transport in rural areas. Likewise truly supporting a Manitoba transition towards organic and locally based agricultural market can help to reduce the GHG emissions related to the transport of food. Moving away from the production of and application of synthetic fertilizers, would also help to reduce Manitoba's GHG emissions.
There are many opportunities for Manitobans to both better themselves and the Manitoba economy, while also lessening our impact on the planet. I would be happy to sit down and discuss this further if you wish.
The 6% reduction in GHG emissions below 1990 levels should only be a starting point, followed by further reductions in the future. It is fair enough for this government to acknowledge it's failure, although further consideration to the timing of said announcement should have been given, but the objectives should not be abandoned. Instead, it should be at minimum be reaffirmed that we remain committed to reducing emissions below 6% below 1990 levels, a new target date should be set, and we should look at why we failed to achieve our objective and attempt to learn from this failure. I truly hope that this promised new energy plan will be an attempt at accomplishing this.
In summation, I would like answers to the following questions:
1. When will the new energy plan be announced?
2. How will the public be able to provide input on this new energy plan?
3. Will your government make the basis and underlying assumptions for Manitoba GHG emissions public? If so how?
4. Can you provide a break down of how the $145 million, promised alongside the Climate Change and Emissions Reduction Act was spent, including if any of the promised money was not spent?
5. In your Government's opinion, what are the annual average emissions from hydro-electric reservoirs, if any?
6. Will your government remain committed to reducing Manitoba based emissions significantly below 1990 levels? Is so by what date do you now expect to reduce emissions below 1990 levels and by how much?
I thank you in advance for a timely response to these questions. Should you need further clarification on any of my concerns and/or questions, or should you want to discuss the matter personally, I would be happy to sit down and meet and discuss matters over the phone. My e-mail and cell-phone number can be found below.
James R. Beddome
Leader, Green Party of Manitoba
1 Mychalo Prystupa “Manitoba Fails Its Own Climate Change Law” CBC (December 6, 2011), online:
2 Government of Manitoba “ Kyoto and Beyond: Meeting and Exceeding Our Kyoto Targets: 2002”, online:
3 Gary Doer's August 14, 2009 speech at the NDP convention in Nova Scotia (see 20:05 to 22:17), online:
4 Konrad Yakabuski “Gary Doer sells oil sands from coast to U.S. coast” Globe and Mail (August 24, 2011), online:
5 Transcript of Bill 15 Press Release (April 11, 2008), Manitoba Legislature, Winnipeg, MB (pp. 12-13), online: