MONCTON – Councillors unanimously voted to declare climate emergency in Moncton Monday, making it the second city in New Brunswick to do so after Edmundston in February.
The city joins a growing global movement of more than 400 municipalities, including Halifax in the Maritime region. The climate emergency declarations come amidst dire warnings from the United Nations and Canadian scientists regarding irreversible damage, and various issues, caused by climate change.
Councillor Pierre Boudeau proposed the resolution at the Moncton city hall, saying that sticking to the status quo is not an option. And cities should be at the forefront of change.
“Climate change may be a global problem, but it’s often municipalities which are in the front lines of extreme weather events that require the fastest response possible,” he said.
With the adoption of the resolution, council recognizes that “the breakdown of the stable climate and sea and river levels under which human civilization developed constitutes an emergency for the City of Moncton.”
The resolution wants staff to report back to the council by May 1, 2020, on opportunities to:
- Increase ambition and/or speed up timelines for existing actions under the city’s Climate Adaptation Strategy;
- Add new actions that would help the City achieve its targets; and,
- Incorporate into the city’s climate targets and actions the need to achieve net zero carbon emissions before 2050 and net negative carbon emissions in the second half of the century.
The resolution also directs the council to call on the federal and provincial governments to support Moncton’s efforts to deal with the climate emergency, “and to do what is necessary and required now to create a safe and liveable future for our generation and those that may come in the future.”
I don’t think that the resolution submitted is that bold in nature. Climate action is not a radical act. It is the most deeply responsible work that we can be doing. The timing is now,” said Councillor Boudreau. “As a city, we can adapt, we can mitigate and we can be resilient, we’ve done it several times before.”
The effects of climate change not only impacts those living in the Arctic, but researchers are also now studying how climate change has forced people to migrate to other countries, among other things.
A new scientific report from Environment and Climate Change Canada also says the country is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world and that the warming is “effectively irreversible.”
The more than 40 scientists who worked on the report warned that if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions building in the atmosphere, Canadians will see 10 times as many deadly heat waves and twice as many extreme rainstorms
Although taking action may cost money, doing nothing would cost more later, Boudreau said
“You really cannot put a price on the wellbeing of future generations,” he said.
Documents submitted with the resolution show a more aggressive greenhouse gas reduction target would have an impact on Moncton’s capital budget. But operations costs could be reduced by energy efficiency measures in some instances. Moncton also has an Energy Management Fund worth around $116,000. That’s where the savings made from energy retrofits are transferred. The fund is intended to be used to complete additional energy efficiency projects in the future.
Councillor Paul Pellerin said Monday night that he supports council’s move but he’d like to see more being done.
“Even though I’m happy to see this resolution move forward, I’d like to see more action done from the city’s part, either exploring solar power to replace the carbon fuels that we’re using to generate electricity. I think there’s a lot more that can be done and I’m looking forward to having a comprehensive plan moving forward,” he said.
Lise Ethier, a nurse, is involved with a citizens group that has pushed for the declaration and had discussions with Boudreau on the resolution. She was present with at least five other members of the group.
Global protests led by teenage students, including across New Brunswick recently, and warnings by scientists reminded them to act. And the move by council Monday was “very important” and is just the beginning, she said.
“I know the time. It’s 10 to seven [o’clock] on the 1st of April 2019 that Moncton city adopted that,” she told Huddle outside council chambers. “We don’t have 50 years, 30 years, we have 10 years to move on and give good signals that we are going to do something important to preserve the climate.”
“We want all New Brunswick to be the same heart to do that,” she said. “And fossil fuels should stay in the ground.”