Greater Victoria is in a state of climate change emergency, say local officials. And it’s time it be declared.
Victoria mayor Lisa Helps, Sooke mayor Maja Tait and Saanich coun. Ned Taylor brought a delegation to the Capital Regional District’s Parks and Environment Committee today, recommending the committee bring a recommendation to the CRD that the region be declared an Emergency Climate Change area.
Helps said the declaration is not just symbolic, but would send a message that the region is aware of a climate emergency.
“If your house is on fire…and you can see your house burning, you don’t stand around and have a debate about it, you throw water on it,” she said. “We have the solutions we need, we know what kind of water to throw on the fire, let’s start treating this, as a community, as the kind of emergency it is.”
The request follows a unanimous decision by the city of Vancouver in January to declare a climate emergency in the city and strengthen Vancouver’s climate action plan.
Vancouver joined a growing list of cities in making the declaration, including seven in Australia, 11 in the United Kingdom and seven in the U.S.
In October, a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) described the harm a two degree rise in global temperature would cause compared to a 1.5 degree rise. But the report said it was still possible to limit the rising temperature if governments, organizations and authorities from the around the world worked together.“Everyone has a role to play,” reads a report to the CRD committee.
The report referenced Bristol, England, which declared a climate emergency in 2018 and asked the mayor to “provide the power and resources” to make a 2030 carbon neutral target possible.
Helps, Tait and Taylor are seeking a similar target – asking the CRD to take a leadership role in working towards climate neutrality by 2030, knocking 20 years off existing plans.
“With additional staff and financial resources, the CRD could play an enhanced role in supporting local governments and other partners to understand collaborative opportunities, priorities and needs for climate action,” reads the trio’s report.
Helps said the declaration would see the CRD request specific resources and authorities needed to make big changes – an example brought up during the meeting was charging cars for driving on regional roads – ultimately helping the provincial and federal governments close the gaps on their climate change goals.
If the CRD accepts the declaration it would ask all local governments to make similar declarations.
More than a dozen citizens came forward in support of the declaration during Wednesday’s meeting.