Editorial: Climate homework

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Local governments across the country have declared “climate emergencies” in the past six months, including the Capital Regional District and the Islands Trust.

The Gulf Islands Board of Education is talking today (Nov. 27) at its committee meeting about making a declaration. The Salt Spring Local Trust Committee was also set to discuss making climate change a top priority at its Nov. 26 meeting.

But many citizens are asking themselves if such declarations have any meaning beyond being a symbolic gesture or seeing a couple of electric vehicles added to the corporate fleet. What kind of action is both required and feasible in order to plug the hole in the dam of climate change impacts?

In trying to answer that question locally, volunteers are taking a leadership role — as is often the case on Salt Spring — in trying to develop an action-oriented plan. island. (Some government involvement exists through funding and in-kind support,  and CRD and Trust officials are ex-officio committee members.)

This isn’t the first time that volunteers largely stepped up to put the spotlight on climate change. A group called the Earth Festival Society first got the ball rolling way back in 2003 to undertake the Salt Spring Island Energy Strategy and the resulting Climate Action Plan, which was released in 2011. Its stated aim was “to support a reduction of at least 15 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions by 2015; at least 40 per cent by 2020 and at least 85 per cent by 2050 based upon 2007 data.”

As a new group of islanders sets out to create another climate action plan, with the aim of reducing GHGs by 50 per cent by the year 2030, it seems obvious that an evaluation of the document created eight years ago should be part of the process. How close did we come to meeting the targets set out in the 2011 plan? What unforeseen challenges arose during and after the plan’s completion?

For the 2019-20 project, an online “eDemocracy” platform will be used to facilitate input gathering, and a casual brunch discussion about the new climate action plan is set for this Saturday, Nov. 30 from 10 a.m. to noon at Gulf Islands Secondary School. It’s sure to be a lively morning that will benefit from as many motivated participants as possible.

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