Candidates, get hot under the collar about climate!
All politics is local, which may explain the curb-level view of issues being presented in the current municipal election campaign. No reason to avoid discussing potholes, bike lanes, councillor budgets and garbage pick-up. But it seems to have escaped the attention of our mayoralty candidates that we just steamed through the second warmest year on record, and a decade of record breaking temperatures are telling us that climate change is not a far off threat – it is happening here and now.
Some aspiring leaders feel tackling climate change is a task that belongs to higher levels of government. Yes, both the federal and provincial governments have a role to play, and could definitely play better. Cities control urban planning, a huge chunk of public infrastructure (roads, sewers, drinking water supply and hundreds of public buildings), and have the most direct relationship with citizens. They are ideally positioned to lead on climate change, especially since we'll bear the brunt of it.
So are we simply going to wring our hands or do any of our candidates have a plan to actually capitalize on the opportunities the climate challenge presents -- a plan to improve energy efficiency in city buildings and save millions of dollars, to secure new economic opportunities for our city by developing and deploying effective climate solutions, and to cement our city’s international reputation as a green leader and a great place to live, work and play.
We don’t need a UN meeting with 30,000 delegates. We simply need a mayor and council who can work together to make reducing emissions and improving efficiency citywide part of the mandate of every city worker and citizen. It’s the least we should be asking of any candidate in these times.