A Different Perspective on COP28 and why we chose to attend

For all those who believe COP28 was a waste of taxpayer dollars, you are having trouble seeing the forest through the trees. Let me start by saying I’m not a proponent of the green agenda and struggle, at times, with the buzzword of sustainability. I even spoke at a recent agriculture conference where most of the farmers in attendance questioned why HGV would even bother to go. 


As I see it, we can spend this money on fixing one problem in Saskatchewan, or we can take our natural resources to the world and increase our exposure and economics so that we can fix many problems. 


COP28 was not just a climate conference; it was selling our province to the world.


The time for armchair quarterbacks is long gone. And, there are many of them on X, previously known as Twitter. The comments about HGV sending our President Kristjan Hebert to Dubai ranged from a waste of taxpayers money to brown-nosing Premier Moe and words I can’t even write here.


So, there you have it. This is how Joe Public really feels about agriculture in our province. This is exactly why we need to get on the global stage as quickly as possible.


Yes, part of the reason is to discuss the importance of sustainability. But, just as important, it’s part of a larger risk mitigation strategy for our operation and agriculture as a whole. The truth of the matter is three years ago we sat as a leadership group and listed out the largest threats to our business. I can manage financial risks, I can insure against environmental and market risks, but the one thing I can’t risk mitigate is bad policy. As my business partner has told the media, “Green policy does not work if it puts us in the red.” 


We’ve told the politicians point blank that they are the only ones who can bankrupt our farm right now.  This is falling on deaf ears, especially when it comes to Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault. 


So, back to COP28; why fly to Dubai on our own dime to be part of the Saskatchewan government’s delegation? The answer is quite simple – to tell our story outside of Canada’s regulated borders. To our knowledge, Minister Guilbeault didn’t make an appearance at the Saskatchewan Pavilion or any agriculture-related events.


In fact, while Minister Guilbeault was at CO28, back home the Senate shot down Bill C234, which would have provided some carbon tax relief to Canadian farmers who need to use natural gas or propane to heat barns and dry grain. It’s clear to me the feds are trying to thwart agriculture in an effort to limit greenhouse gasses, with no financial concern for how this will impact our industry. This is why we went to Dubai. It was far from a paid vacation, as many have implied.

I want to  applaud the current lobby efforts at the federal level as we have a lot of farms and grower groups that are stepping up. In fact, more than ever before. Yet, when it comes to federal policy, it seems we are not making ground. In fact some days, it feels as though we are spinning our wheels. 


So, why did we decide to send a farmer from Southeast Saskatchewan to the largest climate conference on the other side of the world? Because if we don’t sell Saskatchewan agriculture to the globe, who will?