Manitoba, Australian state renew partnership

December 15, 2009

PREMIER Greg Selinger was just nicely off the plane Sunday before Manitoba made its first splash at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.The province signed a renewed agreement with South Australia, a state in Australia that’s roughly the same size as Manitoba, to do exchanges on water conservation, flooding issues and climate change.

“We’ve had a twinning relationship with (South Australia) for several years. We’ve just moved our focus to climate change and flood management,” said Selinger in an interview from the Danish capital.

Selinger, who is part of the Canadian delegation at the conference along with Conservation Minister Bill Blaikie, said he has a number of meetings lined up with other “sub-national” governments in the next few days.

“Provinces like Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario are partnered with places like California. We’re hoping to provide leadership at the state and provincial level on climate change initiatives,” he said.

Selinger said he would also be lending his support to the federal government’s efforts at the conference in dealing with climate change.

“We’re working on a common set of rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through a cap-and-trade system. We hope it will serve as a model for what can happen at the international level,” he said.

“We’ve been actively engaged (on the issue) for a number of years. The Obama administration says they will look at this with how they respond as a country.”

Selinger said the province has made great strides recently in protecting its natural resources most vulnerable to climate change, including boreal forests, lakes, rivers and polar bears.

Last week, Manitoba announced two new protected areas with significant carbon stores, totalling nearly 400,000 hectares, and that it was committing to a new boreal peatlands stewardship strategy.

“Manitoba has been a leader on climate change initiatives with other sub-national governments. That’s why the (federal government) invited us along. We’ve been forging ahead on things,” Selinger said.

Nearly 200 countries are participating in the 12-day conference.

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 14, 2009 A9

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