The City of Colwood endorsed the CRD’s Climate Emergency Declaration. (Photo courtesy of City of Colwood)

Colwood joins other CRD municipalities in declaring climate emergency

Some of council concerned declaration has ‘no teeth’, concrete action

The City of Colwood joined other municipalities in the Capital Regional District by declaring a climate emergency.

At Monday’s council meeting, members of the community spoke in support of the declaration including former councillor Judith Cullington.

“What they also supported, which I think is good, was taking local action,” Cullington said.

Cullington was lead on the Solar Colwood program when she was on council. The program made it possible for residents to undertake over 1,000 renewable energy and energy saving upgrades using a grant from the federal government.

“It was a really successful program,” Cullington said. “We were recognized for it… don’t tell me that single individual communites can’t make a difference. Colwood has shown that’s not the case.”

The climate emergency declaration was supported by all councillors except Coun. Doug Kobayashi and Coun. Stewart Parkinson who raised concerns about the declaration not actually meaning that the City is doing anything concrete.

“We talk about this but there’s no teeth in what we’re doing,” Kobayashi said at the meeting.

Parkinson said he doesn’t agree with “jumping on the bandwagon,” suggesting the City continues to stick with what it is doing already.

Coun. Cynthia Day, however, noted that council should reflect the views of the community and acknowledged the number of speakers who came to the meeting to speak in support of the declaration.

“We need to do what we can to make a difference,” Day said. “The community expects us to do something.”

A report from the CRD about the Climate Emergency Declaration asks all local governments in the region to declare a climate emergency and also commit to working towards carbon neutrality by 2030.

The report cites a special report released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that found limiting global warming to 1.5 C is still possible if there is a 45 per cent reduction of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050.

The IPCC also projected that a failure to reduce emissions could lead to catastrophic impacts on the earth.

Municipalities in the CRD that have already declared a climate emergency are Victoria, View Royal, Esquimalt, Saanich, Sidney, Highlands, Oak Bay, Sooke and now Colwood.

“Colwood council view this climate declaration as a continuation of the City’s climate leadership,” a statement from the City of Colwood reads.

Colwood council has now directed staff to prepare a follow-up report outlining options for accelerating action and taking near-term steps to address climate change at the municipal level.

“For me the next step is now lets wait and see what the staff report says,” Cullington said. “But in the meantime, I’m happy.”

More information about Colwood’s endorsement can be found at https://www.colwood.ca/news-events/news/2019-05-29-000000/colwood-council-endorses-crd-climate-declaration.

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