During the final days of the COP26 summit in Glasgow Scotland, two press releases came from the government trying to convince us that the GNWT is taking climate change seriously.

Hmmm…with Taltson on the front burner, it is no wonder some of us have doubts.

The first release asked for public input on its environmental statement of values which the GNWT claimed was only the second of its kind in Canada. However, while it sounds good, the seven-point value statement was a revision of work done in 2019 and a requirement, not an initiative.

The second release was jointly issued by the Minister of Lands and the MLA from Great Slave Lake stating that the message the GNWT took to COP was about the north’s precarious and vulnerable situation and that the networking may have been useful. We are well aware of our precarious position – what we want to know is whether you are doing something about it. Disconcerting was the GNWTs attempt to put the problem at the feet of the federal government when our own efforts are so greatly lacking.

If the GNWT is concerned about climate change and its impending and certain impacts, why is it pushing ahead with the Taltson knowing the widespread environmental damage it will cause just because the federal government provided funding for a feasibility study? We could have said no.

We know that 80 percent of the energy produced by this project is intended for the mines…not the communities but for the resource extractors who, with their brutal human footprint, are a part of the very environmental damage we need to curtail. Further, the income generated from this project likely won’t even cover the cost of maintenance during normal times let alone during extreme weather events. B.C. expects the cost of its rebuilding to run into the billions of dollars.

We don’t doubt that a just transition will necessitate some mining but our survival means that footprint must be minuscule.

At the opening of COP, Prince Charles said we must proceed on war-like footing to deal with our ever-warming climate. Make no mistake — we are at war and we deserve to know the battle plan.

GNWT — have you seriously opened your doors to those coming to talk about biomass, zero carbon emissions, wood pellets and retrofitting? Perhaps it is time to revisit Alternatives North’s primer on technology presented to the last minister two years ago and this time, you might better understand its urgency. Further, take a look at its Initial work in the report, “Climate Emergency: Getting the NWT off Diesel” which shows that biomass district heating is one of the four most cost-effective ways to reduce GHG emissions in the NWT. A biomass district heating system for downtown Yellowknife could reduce emissions by 18 thousand tonnes of CO2 per year and could generate an income.

GNWT – are you listening to the new and novel produced by those who genuinely care about our future and furiously working often at their own expense to preserve it? Is it understood that we need to look at a whole new way of being? Do we have the right people to lead us into this battle who can think outside the box and the right soldiers in place to fight this battle? Why do we have to drag governments kicking and screaming into a war that is happening in real time with real consequences?

The City of Yellowknife is certainly no better. Just a few weeks ago it said no to a shelter that would have saved lives = now it’s debating a swimming pool. Shocking.

When the fires or the floods come, going for a swim won’t cut it. As both the city and GNWT should know, during the crisis in B.C. last week, major supply chains were and are cut off. The NWT, as we saw in COVIDs early days, is not immune from this scenario.

The north needs to be preparing for what lies ahead. Living like ostriches or offering greenwashing press releases from government word smiths is not going to fix this. Agricultural programs, supply procurements, infrastructure repair training, firefighting, health services, search and rescue — all of these services on a massive scale need to be pursued now. Emergency services could be needed any day.

To encapsulate, B.C. had no notice before the atmospheric river hit. It happened and happened quickly. While there during the flooding, I can tell you that under the despair, the grief, the trauma and the tears was rage — rage that governments did too little, too late. Five lives lost, thousands displaced; possibly hundreds of thousands of animals drowned because no emergency measures were in place and now the military is furiously working on repairs before the next storm hits. This doesn’t include the 600 lives lost in the summer heat dome. Climate change is banging at the door. What are we doing to prepare? Like I said, photo ops don’t cut it.

City of Yellowknife— here is an idea — as of January 1 ban single use plastic and follow up with an aggressive campaign to get people off that product. You are not even recycling.

We are in a war-like emergency and it is long past time for all levels of government to act accordingly. Buckley’s may taste awful, but it heals. So will tough measures on climate change.

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