Greenpeace Environmental Issues

Sometime within the next two months and after Will and Kate swing through town, the people of Yukon will head to the polls and decide whether it's time for a new NDP or Liberal territorial government, or whether the Yukon Party should be granted a fourth consecutive term in office. In a territory where tensions between environmentalists and miners can be high, there are a number of green issues that could rise to the fore in the coming weeks.

That four-letter word

The government of Premier Darrell Pasloski looks poised to make its opposition to a carbon tax a pillar of its election campaign. The right-wing party has not been shy about utilizing Harper-era rhetoric to pit the economy and the environment against each other and stoke fears about a "job-killing" carbon tax that would prevent people from keeping their furnaces lit during the cold winters. This could unfortunately be a compelling argument in a territory whose major industry (mining) is experiencing a downturn. Of course Yukoners might not have a choice on the carbon tax issue if the Trudeau government imposes a national price on carbon, but Pasloski's appeal to the "Yukon way of life" could certainly work to consolidate the support of voters who place little value on climate leadership.

parttimehippieClimate change is readily apparent in the North, with substantially milder winters and melting permafrost, so the ruling conservative party is not denying the problem, but rather its approach is to argue that the tough northern way of life should not be further hindered by an increased price on carbon-based goods and behaviours. Pasloski has accused both the opposition NDP - who hold six seats to the Yukon Party's eleven - and the Liberals - who hold one seat - of wanting to impose a carbon tax, but neither party has made its position clear, though both have certainly showed some openness to a carbon price.

Starting an oil and gas industry... in 2016

Typically environmental disputes in the Yukon centre on the impacts of mining. The territory has abysmally low royalty rates, access roads have had significant effects on wildlife, water testing is insufficient and there are notorious examples of abandoned mines with astronomical pricetags for clean-up (e.g. the lead-zinc mine in Faro, one of Canada's biggest environmental disasters). But in this election, it is fossil fuels that will attract the most attention when it comes to resource extraction.

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