City Council to vote on declaring climate change emergency

Kingston to decide on motion passed in Vancouver, Halifax

A 2017 study published by the City showed a 32 per cent greenhouse gas emissions drop since 2011.

At its first meeting in March, Kingston City Council will vote on a motion calling the city to declare a climate emergency. 

The motion seeks to “officially declare a climate emergency for the purposes of naming, framing and deepening our commitment to protecting our economy, our ecology and our community from climate change,” according to Trillium District Councillor Robert Kiley and Williamsville District Councillor Jim Neill. 

 “We have to tell it like it is: climate change is an emergency,” Kiley tweeted on Feb. 22. “Naming it gives [Kingston] the reason to act quickly, effectively, efficiently.”  

The motion follows the example of other Canadian cities, such as Vancouver and Halifax, who’ve both pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050, as well as larger population centres like Los Angeles and London.

In an email to The Journal, Mayor Brian Paterson expressed support for climate action, but wasn’t definitively supportive of the motion. 

“I think the better approach will be for City Council to establish climate leadership as a strategic priority and then work on developing practical ways to further reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” Paterson said. 

According to climate projections published on the City of Kingston’s website, major changes in weather patterns in the coming decades could impact residents by 2050. 

Kingston climate projections predict a 50 per cent increase in average rainfall and the incidence of freezing rain, and an increase of days per year with a temperature over 30 degrees celsius from four to 30. 

The city of Kingston warns that potential effects of these changes could include increased risks to public infrastructure, major public health concerns, and threats to local biodiversity.

Kingston has moved to address climate change action. In 2014, the City adopted the Kingston Climate Action Plan (KCAP) which set the goal of reducing carbon emissions by 15 per cent before 2020 and by 30 per cent before 2030. 

According to climate studies published by the City, Kingston’s 2017 greenhouse gas emissions showed a 32 per cent drop from 2011 levels. This puts Kingston well ahead of the targets set for Canada in the Paris Climate Agreement. An additional 2018 study published by researchers from the Universities of Waterloo and Guelph recognizes the KCAP as the best municipal climate change plan in Canada.

Kingston aims to continue to actively pursue climate change efforts, according to Paterson.

“I believe we can work together as a city, and as a community, to develop strategies to establish Kingston as a leader on this important issue,” he said. 

City council is expected to vote on the motion on Mar. 5.  

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