Climate Action Plan
The City of Saskatoon (City) is taking action on Climate Change by working to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and proactively adapting infrastructure, services and programs. Supported by the Environmental Leadership goal of the 2018-2021 Strategic Plan, the City has implemented a number of initiatives and is developing a plan to continue to improve Saskatoon's environmental performance.
For the latest update on the Low Emissions Community Plan, see the Low Emissions Community Recommendations Report.
Saskatoon’s Climate Action Strategies
The City is currently creating plans that will focus on the local causes and effects of climate change, as well as solutions and opportunities that reflect what’s possible in our community. The plans will guide action and investment by the City, as well as outline ways we can support community initiatives. The strategies being developed to address climate change include Low Emissions: Saskatoon's Mitigation Strategy and Local Actions: Saskatoon's Adaptation Strategy.
- Mitigation Strategy focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to slow future climate change activity.
- Adaptation Strategy focuses on reducing the risks damages and impacts of climate change through infrastructure improvement projects, natural infrastructure and emergency response programs.
Impacts and Our Community
Climate change is happening, it affects everyone, and it impacts the things we love. It is not simply a problem for future generations, it is a problem for all of us here and now.
As a result of climate change, our community could experience:
- Increased flooding - which can lead to erosion, slope failures, water pollution, and damage to property and infrastructure;
- Dryer and/or hotter conditions - which can lead to more wildfires, poorer air quality, crop failure, higher energy use due to air conditioning, equipment and vehicle failure due to overheating, and property and infrastructure damage;
- Warmer winters - which can lead to an increase in pests and invasive species (e.g. Lyme Disease, Dutch Elm, West Nile), icier road conditions, less opportunities for winter recreation and cultural activities, and unpredictable freeze-thaw events that can damage plants, roads, and other infrastructure;
- More precipitation during winter in the form of rainfall - which can impact road maintenance, winter transportation, recreational activities, groundwater recharge, and spring flooding;
- More extreme weather events - “hundred-year” weather events will no longer happen just once every hundred years, but much more frequently, which can lead to health and safety risks, as well as changes to insurance premiums, deductibles and coverages;
- A longer growing season - which could be accompanied by increased risks of excessive heat, drought, pests, invasive species, and limited agricultural benefits;
- Rapid melting of mountain snow and glaciers - which can lead to changes in our river flows, water quality, water temperatures, and aquatic habitat/species health; and
- Losses and/or changes to habitat - which can threaten native species, reduce ecosystem services, and result in losses to recreational, spiritual, and educational opportunities in nature.
To learn more about how a changing climate could impact Saskatoon, view the Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee’s video.
“[Allowing a High Carbon scenario to occur] would be a total game changer for the Prairie landscape. This rapid shift would present our children with an entirely different climate, which would necessitate a complete reworking of how we live and thrive in our environment. We are currently not ready for this future. Our ecosystems, economies and cultures will be stressed by these dramatic changes. We need to be prepared and, as much as possible, prevent the High Carbon world from becoming a reality.” -Prairie Climate Atlas
On a global scale, the following trends are emerging:
- Temperatures are rising;
- Extreme events are becoming more frequent;
- Oceans are warming;
- Ice sheets are shrinking;
- Glaciers are retreating;
- Snow cover is decreasing;
- Sea level is rising;
- Arctic sea ice is declining; and
- Ocean pH is decreasing, leading to ocean acidification. This negatively impacts coral reefs, shellfish, and other sensitive habitats and species.
Sources: Prairie Climate Atlas, NASA
2017 Environmental Awareness Survey Results
The City of Saskatoon (City) conducted an Environmental Awareness Survey in June 2017 that was representative of Saskatoon’s population. The focus was to gauge how residents and the Industrial Commercial and Institutional (ICI) sector currently understand climate change and the environment.
Read the results:
In November 2015, the City became a signatory of the Compact of Mayors (now Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy), which is an international alliance of cities and local governments with a shared long-term vision of promoting and supporting action to combat climate change. As part of this commitment, the City is required to develop and submit a climate action plan within three years of becoming a signatory that demonstrates how Saskatoon will deliver on its promise to mitigate GHG emissions.
In June 2017 City Council set GHG Emissions Targets for Saskatoon based on the 2014 inventory as follows:
1. 40% reduction in GHG emissions for the City as a corporation by 2023 and a reduction of 80% by 2050.
2. 15% reduction in broader community emissions by 2023 and a reduction of 80% by 2050.
Prairie Climate Outlook
The Prairie Climate Centre is a collaboration of the University of Winnipeg and the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and is poised to play a central role advancing practical climate change solutions for the Canadian Prairies. Learn more at: Climate Atlas of Canada
Mayor Charlie Clark speaks about the changing nature of cities, living in an era of global warming, and how the next generation of young people are demanding action. Despite being a “cold prairie city”, Saskatoon’s sense of community will allow the city to move quickly to “show leadership on environmental change”.