Turn to cities for help on climate change

February 3, 2015

The first time I stood in a city council chambers and advocated for local action on climate change was in 1993.

I was part of a delegation of urban citizens asking that a target be set for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in our community.

While the primary concern of our delegation was the impact of climate change on the environment, we also spoke of the economic benefits for a community that pursued energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

In the follow up staff report, the author concluded “the City by itself cannot undertake fundamental initiatives which will bring about significant change”.  We begged to differ. This response, along with how our delegation was treated by some members of council, was just the push I needed to seek public office.

It was more intuition at the time that told us that cities needed to be part of the solution to climate change. Today we know that cities influence over 60% of Canada’s energy consumption and over 50% of greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, homes and transportation within our cities (Canadian Council of Energy Ministers).  With no action, that will grow.

If we are serious about climate change, an urban agenda must be part of any serious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.