Climate Change is a significant, if not key issue facing communities across the globe. From individual residents to elected leaders. Communities across the world are urgently advocating for action to address climate change. In Canada, it factored heavily in the recent federal election. Unfortunately, the debate, such as it was, seemed to focus on semantics not solutions. Rhetoric not reality.
I think, however, we are well past the time for arguing over terminology or the magnitude of the seriousness of the issue.
Regardless of whatever term you want to use, I think we can all agree that the negative impacts of human activity on our environment are clearly evident. From polluted beaches to smog, from soil erosion to loss of animal species diversity and habitat, from catastrophic flooding to extreme heat events, our environment is under threat.
And I think everyone can also agree that protecting our environment – our water, our air, our soil, our trees and vegetation, our animals – is paramount not only for ourselves but for the generations to come.
Council has before us a motion that has been supported in one form or another by hundreds of municipalities across our country to recognize the seriousness of the environmental impacts of climate change facing our nation.
Yes, this is a largely symbolic motion. It does not require this Council to take any new action. Past and current councils have made clear their deep commitment to protecting our environment.
As a Town, and as a community, we believe that protecting our environment is important. The municipality has taken concrete steps over the past decade towards achieving that important goal. From its first Corporate Environmental Action Plan in 2010 to its support for the Blue Dot movement in 2016 to its support for green procurement policies, our Town has implemented many important initiatives that serve to protect our environment and specifically address the issues of climate change.
In fact, Aurora has demonstrated leadership in addressing climate change. In the early, 2000s, Town Council passed a resolution and became a member of – along with 350+ municipalities – the Climate Protection Program. The PCP program is based on a five-milestone framework that involves completing a GHG inventory and forecast, setting a GHG reduction target, developing a local action plan, implementing the plan, and monitoring progress and reporting results
In 2017, the Corporate Environmental Action Plan (CEAP) was updated and specifically referenced elements of the Blue Dot initiative. This five-year action plan “serves to protect and enhance the natural environment, promote environmental sustainability, integrity and conservation of resources and create a practice of environmental stewardship within the community”. The Town has directly addressed the issue of reducing greenhouse gases through the Corporate Energy Management Plan, the Building Condition Assessment and Energy Audit, the Town-wide Green Development guidelines.
A key element of the Town’s climate risk assessment strategy is to create a Climate Change Action Plan. The Region has already moved forward with creating a Climate change action plan and are in the final drafting stage. The plan will be in front of Regional Council in a couple of months and I believe that this plan will be something that Aurora should endorse and support. And adapt key elements that are directly relevant to our community.
And what aurora needs is a plan to include a climate lens in our decision-making.
When it comes to addressing the impacts of climate change, we need workable solutions now. But we need an integrated approach; we need collaborative solutions for an effective outcome.
Climate change doesn’t end at Aurora’s borders. In fact, it knows no borders.
And a Regional Climate Change Action Plan “will identify overarching principles, objectives and information to guide the work York Region and others undertake to address climate change…to address mitigation and adaptation from a corporate and community perspective.”
Adopting a region- wide approach to mitigating the impacts of climate change on our communities is how we can work together to get things done.
I will be supporting the motion in front of Council, as it affords this Council the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to protecting our environment.