Sounds of Sirens
Climate scientists have been sounding the alarm for some time. Many of you will have heard of young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and her now famous speech to the World Economic Forum in January in which she urged us all to “… act as if the house was on fire. Because it is.”
The acknowledged crisis-state of the environment has sparked activity at the local level, where municipalities, including the three on the Saanich Peninsula, as well as the Capital Regional District, have entertained (some have passed) motions declaring a Climate Emergency. Reaction at the municipal and regional level is highly appropriate given most of our country’s infrastructure is controlled by these levels of government and they/we have much to lose economically, environmentally, and from a community health perspective were damage resulting from climate breakdown to occur. Think of the devastation wrought by forest fires and flooding.
The main goal of the local declarations of climate emergencies is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. Is that enough? Cutting emissions is an important start. Influencing others to do the same is important. Recently, in Vancouver, Council adopted a climate emergency plan that arrived at “six big moves” for pollution reduction. The six areas of action are: 1) Walkable complete communities. 2) Safe and convenient active transportation and transit. 3) Pollution-free cars, trucks, and buses. 4) Zero-emission space and water heating. 5) Lower carbon construction. 6) Restored forests and coasts. In addition to these targets, Vancouver council also approved an impressive list of 53 “accelerated actions” that will ramp-up local action right away.
Vancouver is an inspiring example of municipal leadership in this regard. Let us also be seen to be acting as if our house was on fire and use public money to support the urgent opportunity rather than subsidizing the economy of the past.