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Council is out of excuses for declaring a climate emergency

Scott Frederick gives his opinion.

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File photo from the Brookings Institution.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial stance or position of The Guelph Post. More info on opinion submissions.

For most people the proposal to declare a climate emergency is a slam dunk.

A simple declaration doesn’t cost anything and it doesn’t hurt anybody, and yet there has been pushback against the idea. Most municipalities that declare a climate emergency outline the activities that they would take to address climate change in their communities.

To its credit, Guelph already does many of the things that other towns aspire or pledge to do in the future. So the question has to be asked; why wouldn’t we declare a climate emergency and express solidarity with the 500+ towns that have pledged to reduce their contribution to climate change?

Our city could be an encouragement to others.

A couple of reasons have been given for not passing this motion.

One is that we shouldn’t politicize the issue. You could argue that this issue became political in Ontario when Doug Ford’s office forbade the mention of climate change in any government social media in a series of emails last August. These emails were later retracted by Environment Minister Rod Phillips who called them “a mistake”.

All this week, we will be treated to the three major federal parties bobbing and weaving as they fire opposing climate motions at each other.

The Conservatives avoiding all mention of climate because they don’t have a plan to deal with it. The Liberals are trying to balance the knife edge of expanding fossil fuel production and save the environment at the same time.

And the NDP who are suddenly more green than they were last week because the just lost a seat to a Green member that ran explicitly on a climate platform.

So, I think that the political train has already left the station. 

You could argue that we should leave the climate file to the higher levels of government. But, we are already leading by example so we should not be afraid to declare it.

People lead and politicians follow, not the other way around. Politics is about power. Who has it and what they do with it. There is an enormous investment in brown technologies. The people who control these industries wield a lot of influence over politicians and the media.

They would prefer that we don’t discuss climate change.

Let’s not do their work for them.


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