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Delta mayor wants youth council to help create city’s climate change strategy

Young women lead a march after participating in a "die-in" climate action protest in Vancouver on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Delta’s mayor says he wants his city to create a new plan for addressing climate change — but first he wants to hear from the youth.

George Harvie says he’s looking at forming a Mayor’s Youth Council, whose first task will be figuring out municipal strategies to address urgent climate concerns.

In a motion to be debated at Monday’s council meeting, the mayor calls for staff to prepare a report on the issue that would be informed by the youth council’s suggestions.

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“Delta needs to engage the community and hear what the community is saying so we can get some ideas from them, and especially our younger people,” Harvie said.

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Harvie says he wants to hear more opinions before declaring a climate emergency, which has been done by several other Metro Vancouver cities including Vancouver and Richmond.

The youth council would help outline what the city can do better in reducing greenhouse gases and otherwise fighting climate change, he said, adding there’s no one better to speak on climate change than younger generations.

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“I am so impressed in the youth in Delta, and I’m sure it represents the youth around the province and around the Lower Mainland,” Harvie said.

The comments came shortly before Friday’s youth-led rally for federal climate change action was held in Vancouver, which featured a speech from 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

The rally was the latest in a series of school walkouts led by students that have been taking place for weeks throughout B.C., including Delta, and around the world.

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Harvie’s motion points to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that calls for urgent actions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, rather than two degrees as previously understood.

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He also mentions Thunberg’s activism, including her appearance at the United Nations Climate Summit where she memorably slammed world leaders for not doing enough to address the issue.

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The youth-led climate movement argues federal governments are putting future generations at risk by ignoring calls for climate action.

A lawsuit filed Friday in Federal Court by 15 Canadian youths claims Ottawa is infringing on their Charter rights by not preventing health and environmental risks, including wildfires and floods, that are linked to climate change.

READ MORE: Could the youth-led climate movement lead to change at the ballot box in B.C.?

Harvie says he’s inspired by the movement, and is hopeful the rest of council approves his motion.

“It’s important that we engage the community, especially as I mentioned the youth, because this action plan is meant for the youth, really,” he said.

If approved, the staff report would be tasked to address solutions including transit expansion and the restoration of Burns Bog, among other concerns.

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