On Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019, Burlington’s City Council unanimously passed a motion to declare a climate emergency, joining over 400 local governments around the world. There were 12 delegations in support of the declaration – ten in person and two written.
What is a climate emergency?
A climate emergency helps to raise the profile that we all need to work together as individuals, businesses, communities and all levels of government to:
- Lower greenhouse gas emissions caused by human influences to reduce the impact of climate change (mitigation); and
- Adapt to the changes that we are already experiencing (adaptation).
Through this declaration, Burlington plans to deepen the city’s commitment to protecting our economy, environment and community from climate change; and immediately increase the priority of the fight against climate change and apply a climate lens to the plans and actions of the City of Burlington including Council strategic workplan and future budgets.
Two related commitments were outlined in the Burlington Strategic Plan 2015-2040:
- The city recognizes that climate change is a significant issue and is working with the community and all levels of government towards the goal of the Burlington community being net carbon neutral.
- The city’s operations are net carbon neutral.
For years the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned about the need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions that are negatively impacting our climate. The most recent global agreement is to keep a global temperature increase to within 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid further economic, ecological and societal loss.
In reaction to the April 2019 Canada’s Changing Climate Report showing that Canada is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world (currently at 1.7 degrees) and nearly three times the rate in the north (currently at 2.3 degrees), Canada’s federal environmental commissioner and watchdog warned that Canada is not doing enough to reduce its emissions and reach its targets.
Locally we are already seeing impacts such as the ice storm in 2013, the flood in 2014, high Lake Ontario levels in 2017, more heat waves and increased damaging wind storms.
Staff will bring a report to the June 10, 2019 Committee of the Whole meeting that outlines actions taken to date and includes a critical path for the development of the first City of Burlington Climate Action Plan that will:
- Address the operations of the corporation of the municipality as well as the functioning of the entire community;
- Include a plan for a thorough and complete consultation with stakeholders and the community;
- Increase action and ambition for the City’s climate change-related activities; and
- Include performance metrics to track progress and timelines for achieving key deliverables/major milestones and a strategy to report back publicly on progress.
Staff will also bring the Burlington Climate Action Plan to Council for approval, which will replace the current Community Energy Plan, by December 2019.
Stay tuned to the Take Action Burlington blog at TakeActionBurlington.ca for future climate change related updates.
Take Action Burlington. Collectively we can and need to make a difference to reduce our impact on our local environment. Planet Earth needs our help.