City council declares climate change ‘an emergency’ for Vancouver

Jan 17 2019, 5:33 pm

Vancouver city councillors have voted unanimously to declare the potential effects of future climate change “an emergency” for our city.

In a motion introduced this week, Councillor Christine Boyle noted that the BC government declared a provincial state of emergency in 2018 over record-setting wildfires, and that the costs to Vancouver for dealing with future sea level rise as well as stormwater and sewer management are significant.

The motion, entitled, “Ramping Up Vancouver’s Climate Action in Response to the Climate Emergency” asked council to “recognize the breakdown of the stable climate and sea level under which human civilization developed, constitutes an emergency for the City of Vancouver.”

The motion says $1-billion of flood management infrastructure will be needed to deal with the sea level rise alone, by the year 2100.

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It also directs staff to look at various opportunities to add new actions to help the city “achieve its targets” and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions “beyond the scope” of the city’s current climate targets, as well as incorporate into the city’s climate targets and actions “the need to achieve net zero carbon emissions before 2050 and net negative carbon emissions in the second half of the century.”

In addition, the motion requests that the city establish a “remaining carbon budget for corporate and community emissions commensurate with limiting warming to 1.5ºC and report annually on the expenditure of the City of Vancouver’s remaining carbon budget.”

The creation of a “Climate and Equity” working group is also requested in the motion. The purpose of this group would be to “provide guidance and support for the city’s efforts to transition off of fossil fuels in ways the priorities those most vulnerable to climate impacts and most in need of support in transitioning to renewable energy.”

Last summer, a city staff report found that roughly $1 billion of flood management infrastructure is needed in Vancouver by 2100 to mitigate the effects of rising sea levels.