North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said he can’t support the municipality’s draft climate action and energy plan as it’s currently written.
After considering amendments to the plan related to greenhouse-gas emissions at the committee of the whole meeting on Dec. 7, Siebring said he’s concerned that the draft plan deals exclusively with emissions.
“What about the climate part?” he asked council and staff.
“Where is the stuff in the plan dealing with the effects of climate change which we are seeing more and more and more of? I see nothing about that and without that, I can’t support the plan. Not only can I not support it, but there’s a placeholder in the plan for the mayor’s message and I would happily turn that over to the chair of the environmental advisory committee [Coun. Kate Marsh] and she can do it.”
The updated 2021 CAEP is expected to provide up-to-date greenhouse-gas modelling in the region and assess how emissions are generated in North Cowichan.
The model will also forecast how emissions might change in the future under business-as-usual versus council’s goal to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
These forecasts include the various actions that North Cowichan should take to achieve these goals, and it was during discussions on these issues that Siebring made his comments.
Siebring said the draft plan is missing the biggest problem, which is the fact that the climate is changing.
“What are we going to do about the impacts of that?” he asked.
“As Coun. [Tek] Manhas has indicated, Canada produces 1.6 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions and when you take out the oil sands and Ontario industry, the rest is just 0.8 per cent. Are we in North Cowichan going to save the world with our emissions plan?”
Siebring said people will say that North Cowichan and Canada’s emissions per capita are higher than everyone else, but that’s not the point.
“The point is we could cut all emissions in the entire country and shoot every farting cow and China would make up those emissions we eliminated within six months,” he said.
“It’s not about emissions, it’s about flooding, it’s about dealing with heat domes, it’s about coming up with strategies to improve our emergency responses. Those are the kind of things I need to see in a climate plan, but these are not mentioned here once.”
Marsh countered that the discussion at the meeting was an update on North Cowichan’s emission targets and what the municipality is doing to meet the targets.
“This is not the whole draft climate action and energy plan,” she said.
Coun. Christopher Justice added that when council was developing its strategic plan, it decided on two sets of actions pertaining to the issue.
“One is updating the CAEP which we are doing right now, and the other is to develop a framework or evaluation for climate change risks and adaptions which I believe is scheduled for 2022,” he said.
“So all of the things you [Siebring] and all of us are concerned about will be addressed in that aspect of the CAEP.”
Siebring then made a successful motion that Marsh write the message from the municipality in the CAEP instead of him.