Keller-Herzog: Ottawa Council must have a plan to fight climate change

By Angela Keller-Herzog, Ottawa Citizen, April 13, 2019

Recently, a stunning 1.4 million children walked out of class in 2,233 cities and towns in 128 countries to protest lack of action by governments, political leaders and adults in general on runaway climate change. “We need a whole new way of thinking,” said 16-year old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. “We proved that it does matter what you do and that no one is too small to make a difference.”

No government is too small, either. Much can be done by individuals at the local level, and much is actually being done, with cities such as Kingston, Hamilton, Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver declaring climate change an emergency and pushing for local climate action.

The City of Ottawa, however, has been hanging back – not a good look for the capital of Canada.

Most of the effort over the past five years has been in terms of study, and there is no public information on whether Ottawa’s Energy Evolution Strategy “action items” are actually being implemented. Questions by residents’ associations in the context of municipal budget 2019 remained unanswered.

(...)“Resilience” is the new code word for whether we are ready to cope with local climate disasters: tornadoes, floods, power outages, droughts etc. How many residents in Ottawa would know how to cope with a power outage of more than 48 hours in winter? City staff were supposed to start working on a resilience (or climate adaptation) plan in 2014; we have not seen it yet.

Coun. Shawn Menard is expecting to introduce a climate emergency motion at the city’s environment committee meeting on April 16. Among other things, it would direct city staff to report back within 90 days on proposals for action and to produce a Climate Resilience plan to assist Ottawa residents to cope with climate-related disasters.

The motion makes sense, and should be adopted by the committee and full Ottawa Council without delay. Global warming is accelerating; political complacency by the adults cannot continue. As Greta Thunberg says, our house is on fire. Do we have the political will to help put out the blaze?

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