Calling global warming an ‘existential crisis,’ Langley City council has unanimously voted to declare a climate emergency.
Coun. Rosemary Wallace, chair of the Langley City Environmental Task Group, presented the proposal at the Monday, Jan. 11 meeting of council.
While the city is already taking steps to reduce emissions that cause climate change, the motion will “set the stage” for future decisions, Wallace told the Langley Advance Times.
“It should have that lens of looking at how we tackle climate change [going forward],” Wallace remarked.
Among other things, the resolution declaring a climate emergency will guide the redevelopment of the Nicomekl River area in the city, Wallace anticipated.
There was no resistance to the proposal from other council members, only a few friendly amendments to add specifics like having staff investigate what “resources, funding and timelines” will be needed to meet the goal of achieving “net zero carbon emissions before 2050 and net negative carbon emissions in the second half of the century.”
Coun. Paul Albrecht, the vice chair of Environmental Task Group, who proposed the amendments, called the resolution “a really important issue that needs to come forward.”
During the discussion, Coun. Rudy Storteboom said the resolution wasn’t “window dressing.”
“It’s not a political ploy to favour some kind of political position, it’s real,” Storteboom commented, adding City staff have been working for the last dozen years to make Langley City “carbon neutral.”
Coun. Nathan Pachal had no doubts about the situation.
“I believe climate change is real,” Pachal said.
“Climate change is caused by humans and it’s getting worse.’
Wallace was pleased by the response.
“I wanted everyone to be on board,” she told the Langley Advance Times.
While the COVID-19 crisis has dominated attention lately, the issue of climate change cannot be overlooked, Wallace believes.
“This is valid, it’s important,” Wallace said.
Wallace explained the resolution was inspired in part by a presentation from Sustainabiliteens, a group of young who came as a delegation to Langley City Council back in April of 2019.
As adopted by City council, the motion noted that the earth is currently on track to warm by more than three degrees Celsius and limiting it “would require rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”
Wallace said the resolution also “aligns us with a lot of other municipalities.”
In July, Langley Township council unanimously approved a motion by Councillor Petrina Arnason, acknowledging there is a “climate emergency as evidenced by scientific studies and policy predictions that indicate dire consequences arising from the breakdown of a stable climate arising from unprecedented global warming.”
There were several other measures in the Township motion, including a proposal that the municipality create a draft “carbon budget” for both corporate and community CO2 emissions related to planning and land development.
Arnason’s motion also called for an annual report from staff on the carbon budget so council could make decisions on policy.