Governments need to “work together” to fight climate change: environment minister
The threat posed by climate change and its impact on municipalities was the focus of a meeting between Canada’s environment minister and local mayors at Hamilton city hall.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna met with Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger, Burlington mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Milton mayor Gordon Krantz— all from municipalities that have declared climate emergencies — to discuss Canada’s Changing Climate Report.
That report, which was released in April, found that Canada is warming at twice the global average, which McKenna said will mean more days of extreme heat.
“They would go up under a high emission scenario from 17 days to 56 days a year,” said McKenna. “That’s almost two months of extreme heat. What does extreme heat mean? That means extremely dangerous for seniors, for children, babies, people with respiratory illnesses. It also has an impact on the grid because more people are trying to use air conditioning.”
McKenna said businesses and educational institutions in Hamilton and the area have been pioneers in developing environmentally friendly practices, citing Mohawk College’s net-zero energy use Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation and Centre for Climate Change Management, as well as local green businesses like Ecosynthetix in Burlington.
Public transit was also highlighted as playing a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and McKenna said they discussed Hamilton’s LRT project.
“That is something that I think is extremely important for the city of Hamilton,” said McKenna. “I know that there are bids going on, and this is really something of the province, we have not received any requests, but overall we certainly support public transportation.”
Eisenberger said McKenna and the Liberal government have expressed that they remain open to receiving applications for additional funding if the project exceeds the $1 billion price tag.
Burlington mayor Marianne Meed Ward said the main message that should come from Thursday’s meeting is that there is a crisis that extends beyond political parties.
“This is not a partisan issue,” said Meed Ward. “This is a national emergency. A global emergency. And so whoever is in office at any level of government has to take this seriously for the good of the community, for the good of our people that live here, and for our planet.”
McKenna said she feels ‘dismay’ that the Ontario government is not working with the federal and municipal governments to fight climate change.
“We need to work together,” said McKenna. “We need to make decisions based on science. The science is clear. Our climate is changing.”
She added that it’s ultimately about making a choice.
“We can decide what our future is going to be like. Will we be ambitious in climate action and mitigate the worst impacts of climate change? Or will we not? And that is going to have huge consequences.”
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