Climate change isn’t slowing down. And so it’s up to the City of North Vancouver to speed up.
That was the message from Coun. Jessica McIlroy at the Feb. 25 council meeting as she called on the city to cut 80 per cent of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 and to hit net zero by 2050.
The city’s previous target, based on 2007 GHG levels, was to cut emissions 51 per cent by 2050 and to hit net zero by 2107.
McIlroy noted the motion doesn’t include “any direct investments in climate action,” but said the new targets should be incorporated in all future city plans and budgets.
“The three main greenhouse gas emission sources are all actually the three main areas where local government has control: local transportation, buildings and waste,” McIlroy said.
While McIlroy acknowledged the work of previous city councils, she was critical of the federal government, asserting: “Canada as a nation has not been bold.”
There’s been a tendency to assume solutions will be determined in the future and that “citizens aren’t actually willing to change,” McIlroy said.
“We’ve not lacked knowledge or understanding [of climate change],” she said. “What we’ve actually lacked is the political will to take action.”
The motion is a “bold step forward” but needs to be implemented through frequent measurements and reports, according to Katie Harrison, managing director of environmental group Force of Nature.
“Most of our municipalities are neglecting to attend to their existing targets so raising the bar is only going to have an impact if it’s followed up with rigorous, data-driven action,” she said.
The city needs to set goals supported by science, Coun. Don Bell said in supporting the motion, noting “incredible examples of the climate gone wild,” in recent years - such as the hottest years on record and declared states of emergency over wildfires.
Speaking as “one of the more senior members on council,” Bell noted the importance of the new targets. “I would like to feel that part of my legacy was that I was leaving a healthier community for my children and grandchildren and the generations to come,” he said.
Mayor Linda Buchanan agreed. “We’ve been a leader in sustainability for a long time but we need to do better,” she said.
McIlroy’s motion was unanimously supported by council.