It was pointed out to the Yukon Chamber of Commerce that our response to the recent Yukon News editorial by the Yukon Conservation Society seemed to suggest that we were focused on responding to its author, rather than conveying that it was the response of the organization. This was not our intent, and we apologize for any suggestion that this was the case. We are correcting our response to address this valid comment, below, and will learn from this input.
We strongly value the engagement of the Yukon Conservation Society, and other organizations participating in this important discussion, and believe that there are areas of common interest for us to engage, and move forward to identify solutions to this critical issue.
After recently launching our project to build awareness about coming energy decisions in Yukon’s future, the Energy Committee of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce was very pleased to see the effort is already attracting some vigorous response, including http://www.yukon-news.com/letters-opinions/fossil-fuelling-yukons-economy-is-a-bad-idea/ in the Yukon News on June 24.
The energy analyst with the Yukon Conservation Societywas a welcome participant at our first workshop. Her article is a positive signal that this project is relevant. It also came as a reminder that to succeed, we need to continue our commitment to a dynamic and responsive approach.
At this juncture, it’s worth going back over a few fundamentals in greater depth.
The Chamber’s focus is on business, in this case the business of reducing the $200 million annual leakage to the Yukon economy, and we think we should do this by whatever means is economically viable.
The Chamber is not married to a local oil-and-gas solution specifically. It does want to ensure a locally sourced fuel solution is considered as a possible solution or part of a mix of solutions. We believe it should not be ruled out without ever being considered seriously.
The Chamber agrees that fossil-fuel use is not sustainable in the long term. From a Chamber perspective though, the issue is the leakage to the economy. Yet we know the environmental perspective must also be considered, and for us that includes recognizing that:
- All forms of energy production and usage have an impact on the environment.
- Climate change does not recognize territorial, national or international boundaries, it is a global issue so must be looked at from a global perspective, not a just a local or Yukon perspective.
- The Yukon can’t just export its energy-related emissions to another jurisdiction or country, which it is currently doing with respect to importing of liquid fuels.
It’s definitely the case that there are upstream impacts from the development production and transportation of fossil fuels. But if the upstream impacts can be reduced though local development, then this can have a positive impact on emissions.
The Chamber’s fossil-fuel forecasts are actually energy forecasts, which can be met, in part at least, with renewable energy sources. There is no disagreement that use of renewable sources of energy is the future and is wanted and needed. We need to do the work that will empower a careful and rational approach to problem solving. The issues are how to get there and how long will it take to get there.
There are no simple answers. Replacement of fossil fuels for heating use in Yukon is challenging; for transportation use it is very challenging. We’re not experts in small refineries, but we’re planning to find them and see what their data and experience tell them about Yukon’s reality. We’re also looking into the issues faced by industries like mining that require thermal energy to power their heavy equipment. And thanks to the input of the Yukon Conservation Society, we think it’s a fair idea to inquire whether self-reliance has to mean sacrificing species and clean water - or whether the human competency exists to successfully pursue fossil-fuel development under government regulation in very specific and limited areas of the Yukon.
The Chamber strongly believes in focusing on real and practical solutions that reduce leakage to the Yukon’s economy and preserve our high standard of living. The Chamber strongly supports energy conservation and promotes it at every opportunity.
The Chamber welcomes this dialogue, and we thank everyone who pushes to us better articulate the aims of this project. The positive public response we have already had shows us that many Yukoners are appreciative of this approach to examining the alternatives. So we will continue to inform Yukoners and Yukon businesses of the challenges and opportunities in reducing the significant problem of leakage to our economy.