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Halifax councillor proposes municipality declare ‘climate emergency’

Coun. Richard Zurawski pictured in Halifax City Hall on Jan. 30, 2018.
Coun. Richard Zurawski pictured in Halifax City Hall on Jan. 30, 2018. Steve Silva / Global News

A councillor wants the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) to follow in the footsteps of other Canadian cities and declare a “climate emergency.”

At regional council on Tuesday, Richard Zurawski will present a motion that requests staff to prepare a report that recognizes “the breakdown of the stable climate and sea levels… constitutes an emergency for HRM” and provides recommendations that would accelerate the municipality’s actions to meet — and even exceed — their climate change targets.

READ MORE: Halifax staff to examine ‘feasibility’ of eliminating drive-thrus

But the ambitious proposal doesn’t stop there. The request also asks the municipality to achieve net zero carbon emissions before 2050 and net negative carbon emission in the second half of the century.

Zurawski is also asking the establishment of a carbon budget for “corporate and community emissions” and the establishment of a “Climate and Equity” working group that would provide guidance on the HRM’s efforts to transition off of fossil fuels.

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Zurawski did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in his request, says that “there is a climate emergency declared by other Canadian Cities and it is time for Halifax to take a serious look at this issue.”

If passed, staff have 90 days to come back with options that would address his concerns.

WATCH: Vancouver City council passes transit, climate ’emergency’ motions

Vancouver City council passes transit, climate ’emergency’ motions
Vancouver City council passes transit, climate ’emergency’ motions

Earlier this month, Vancouver City Council unanimously voted to declare a climate emergency.

Their motion did something similar, asking city staff to come up with proposals that would speed up its greenhouse gas reduction plans and add new targets to its current plan.

Councillor Christine Boyle, who introduced the motion in Vancouver, told CKNW that the city wasn’t doing enough to fight climate change.

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“We’re not reducing emissions as quickly as we need to, to meet the targets that scientists tell us, globally, are necessary,” said Boyle.

Cities such as London and Los Angeles have also declared climate emergencies.

READ MORE: Here’s what a world of net-zero carbon emissions looks like

Zurawski, the councillor for Timberlea-Beechville-Clayton Park-Wedgewood, has long served as a champion for environmental issues in Halifax.

Last year, he sparked a heated debate when he asked for municipal staff to examine the feasibility of eliminating drive-thrus in the municipality — an issue that he said was part of an effort to pick the “low-hanging fruit” among the city’s CO2 emissions.

The motion eventually passed the municipality’s Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee and a report on reducing drive-thrus will head to the Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee when it is completed.

Zurawski has previously served as talk show host and meteorologist and even taught at Saint Mary’s University.