Burlington Declares a Climate Emergency

 

The City of Burlington has declared a climate emergency.

Recently (April 23) city council unanimously passed a motion to declare an emergency. 

This motion was brought forward by Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan.

By declaring a climate emergency, Burlington City Council is recognizing the magnitude of the challenge we face in combatting climate change," Nisan said in a press release. "But it is only one step. Through the declaration, we have requested a comprehensive climate action plan by the end of the year and that plan is where we will begin to make [a] real, practical change for Burlington.”

However, the city is not alone in declaring an emergency. 

In fact, according to the release, numerous cities around the world have also recently declared climate emergencies. These declarations are in response to findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Findings have revealed that we have only 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees. Any further increase, according to the release, would significantly worsen the risk to hundreds of millions of people of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty. 

London (UK), Los Angeles, Vancouver, Halifax, Kingston, and Hamilton have all declared climate emergencies recently.

According to the release, over that past several years, Burlington has already felt the effects of climate change. Currently, climate change is ranked as the third highest risk on Burlington’s Enterprise Risk Register, which measures overall risk to the city.

As a result, the city is taking action.

"The City is currently updating many of its plans in relation to climate change including the Community Energy Plan (transitioning to the Climate Action Plan), Corporate Energy Management Plan, Storm Water Design Standards and Urban Forest Management Plan," reads the release. "The City has also set the important goal for city operations to be net carbon neutral by 2040 and work towards being a net carbon neutral community."

The goal of the declaration is to increase the city’s ambition on climate change initiatives, and provide staff and residents with clarity of purpose surrounding council’s view of the severity of climate change.

Action items, as noted in the release, from the declaration include:

  • That the city of Burlington declares a climate emergency for the purposes of deepening our commitment to protecting our economy, environment and community from climate change.
  • That council and staff immediately increase the priority of the fight against climate change and apply a climate lens to the plans and actions of Burlington including the council strategic work plan and future budgets.
  • That staff is directed to bring a report to the June 3, 2019, Committee of the Whole meeting that outlines actions taken to date and includes a critical path for the development of the first City of Burlington Climate Action Plan that will:

-      tackle the operations of the corporation of the municipality, along with the functioning of the entire community

-      include a plan for a thorough and complete consultation with stakeholders and the community

-      increase action and ambition for the city’s climate change-related activities

-      include performance metrics to track progress and timelines for achieving key deliverables/major milestones, and a strategy to report back publicly on progress.

  • Direct the City Manager to bring back the Burlington Climate Action Plan to Council no later than December 2019 for approval.

What do you think of Burlington's decision to declare a climate emergency?

Photo is courtesy of the City of Burlington's Twitter page.

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