The County’s Missing Climate Action Plan

Image result for 1.5 degrees c
The central aim of the Paris Agreement is to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change  and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The recently released UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says there are urgent and unprecedented actions required by the world’s governments to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C. This is the point where humanity would have the best chance of avoiding extreme, unpredictable climate variations. Scientists say we have just 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe–extreme heat,drought, floods, and poverty. At present, the Canadian government’s climate policy is not nearly robust enough to meet the 1.5 C emissions target. In fact, the current ‘rate of emissions’ suggest we are headed for 3 degree C.

Canadians’ emissions per capita are greater than any other country, including the United States.Emissions from the tar sands are the elephant in the room. The proposed tar sands expansion–a policy actually being considered at the moment–if approved, will increase our emissions substantially.

As politicians dither, Canada’s energy policy needs to quickly make a 180 degree turn. In Canada the federal and provincial governments are squabbling over how best to respond. Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking.

80% of Canadians live in cities. Cities are the linchpins in driving down global emissions. Some cities like Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto have taken serious steps to build greener, healthier cities. These cities realize that reducing green emissions has huge benefits for city life.

But it all starts with a serious detailed action plan. At the moment, in contrast with Peterborough’s detailed action plan, the City of Prince Edward County, although declaring a climate emergency, doesn’t have anything resembling a coordinated action plan.

If Council is searching for ‘best practices’, the Peterborough Sustainable plan could serve as a template on how to proceed to develop one.The Sustainable Peterborough plan states:

“The overall objective is to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduce the use of fossil fuels, lower our energy consumption, and adapt to our changing climate. The plan has identified goals, actions, and emissions reduction targets.” Eight Community task forces were created focusing on Agriculture and Food, Community Energy, Community Waste, Economic and Business, Land Use Planning, People and Health, and Transportation.

Peterborough started by developing a greenhouse gas inventory that: “provides community and municipal sources of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) for the 2011 baseline year. The associated forecast projects future emissions based on assumptions about population, economic growth and fuel mix.” They issue detailed annual report cards that demonstrate their progress, year over year []

Part of the reason Prince Edward hasn’t produced anything remotely resembling Peterborough’s plan, is because there hasn’t been anyone specifically designated to take charge of developing one. An appropriate action plan would identify opportunities, regulations, promotion of climate initiatives,
encouraging community engagement, with measurement, reports, and issuing annual recommendations to Council, complete with timelines.

That is why the County Sustainability Group has repeatedly suggested the appointment of an Environmental Commissioner or, at the very least, a special Committee of Council and Citizens’ Committee to identify opportunities to reduce our climate footprint. Time is of the essence. There are so
many opportunities that are being missed. There are many citizens in the County, many with special expertise, who would be willing to serve on a community task force.

Ron Hart is a member of the County Sustainability Group


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