City of Powell River Council unanimously endorsed a lengthy motion regarding climate emergency, setting targets for community-wide emissions. Council considered the motion at its meeting on Thursday, July 4. The motion includes:
1. Commit to becoming carbon neutral in corporate operations in 2019 and beyond
2. Direct staff to prepare a report outlining recommended actions required to become carbon neutral in corporate operations starting in 2019
3. Direct staff to prepare a staff report with official community plan bylaw amendments that: Update the community-wide target of reducing emissions by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and reaching net zero in 2050, in alignment with the intergovernmental panel on climate change special report recommendation of keeping the warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to avoid the worst impacts of climate change; and include climate change mitigation and adaptation measures into appropriate development permit areas
4. Direct staff to prepare a report that prioritizes the integrated community sustainability plan, community energy and emissions plan, and carbon neutral action plan actions related to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and update the plans as needed to address the revised community emissions reduction target
5. Direct staff to include climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in asset management plan updates
Councillor CaroleAnn Leishman expressed thanks to sustainability planner Ana Lukyanova, the city’s planning staff and other departments that have participated in pulling together information for a report on the issue.
“Everyone has pitched in really well in recognizing what we have in front of us,” said Leishman.
She said Powell River is doing a really good job. When she talks to other councillors and sustainability planners from other communities around the world, Powell River is leading the way in a lot of respects, she added.
“There’s a lot of communities farther behind, some communities are farther ahead in what they are doing, but they really are seeing cost savings as well as lifestyle changes and a lot of benefits from doing these things that we really need to start tackling,” said Leishman. “In our community we have been doing that for a number of years. It’s great to see this is really in line with the direction we are all heading and I’m happy to bring this forward.”
City of Powell River declared a climate emergency on February 21, 2019. According to a staff report dated June 18, 2019, the city had joined more than 330 Canadian local governments, for a total of more than 540 communities around the world, representing more than 65 million people, in declaring the climate emergency.
According to the report, the planet is currently at one degree of warming from pre-industrial levels. A special report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in November 2018 highlighted previously underestimated impacts that a two degree Celsius rise in global temperatures is likely to cause, compared to a 1.5 degree Celsius rise. The report called on governments to keep the warming below 1.5 degrees.
The city report stated that it is important to act now to keep the warming below 1.5 degrees.
“With Canada warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, we have less time than we thought to get to work,” the report stated.