Nunavut not prepared for climate change impacts, auditor general says

Nunavut not prepared for climate change impacts, auditor general says
From CBC - March 14, 2018

Nunavut is not prepared to deal with the impacts of climate changeand does not have a plan to deal with them, according to latest report by Canada's auditor general.

The report, tabled in the NunavutLegislature on Tuesday, also says the territory has twice come up with climate change mitigation strategies, but never followed through on finalizing action plans to implement them.

"There are a number of challenges that the government faces in addressing climate change, whether that be the need to address immediate priorities, but also human resource capacity challenges within the government. And those make it difficult to sustain effort and attention," Jim McKenzie, the principal director responsible for the audit, told reporters in Iqaluit.

Nunavut is not alone.

The findings echo the auditor general's reports on the same topic out of the Northwest Territoriesin Octoberand Yukon in January.

"There was a co-ordinated effort amongstthe auditor generals across Canada, at the provincial, territorial and federal levels, to look at the issue of climate change," McKenzie said.

"[Nunavut] is the last jurisdiction to table [its] report and based on the ones I have read, I would say Nunavut is not unique in terms of its challenges. Areas such as the need to fully assess climate risks, to have action plans, and public reporting are certainly others areas for improvement that were identified in other jurisdictions."

Unfinished work

The auditors found two cases in which work had started on an action plan on climate change mitigation strategies, but were never finished.

One was an "adaptation strategy," which started in 2011 by the Department of Environment to come up with a framework for Nunavummiut to better adapt to current and future changes from climate change.

The strategy had 11 objectives, focused on actions to be taken rather than desired outcomes.But it did not lay out who would be responsible for achieving those actions,nor did it have timelines for completing them, according to the auditor general's findings.

Nunavut's cabinet directed the Department of Environment to develop a plan to implement the strategy, and by 2014, the department had a five-year action plan drafted, but it was never finalized.

In another case, an "energy strategy" was commissioned by the government in 2007 thataimed to reduce Nunavut's dependance on fossil fuels, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The strategy contained 42 policy actions, but again without direction on who's responsible for implementing most of them.

In 2010, the territory has a detailed draft plan, with descriptions, timetables, deliverables and responsibilities. Again, the plan was never finalized.

Further, the auditors found the government never publicly reported on the implementation of either of the aforementioned strategies.

"We know there were certainly human resource challenges. Some of these draft action plans were developed several years ago and there has certainly been turnover in the government," McKenzie said.

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