FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, June 23, 2020
ECOLOGY ACTION CENTRE URGES HRM COUNCIL TO SUPPORT AND BEGIN IMPLEMENTATION OF ITS CLIMATE ACTION PLAN
K’JIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) - Today, the Halifax Regional Council will deliberate on a motion to approve HalifACT 2050, the municipality’s first comprehensive climate change action plan. The Ecology Action Centre supports the plan in principle and emphasizes the need for policy and funding to support implementation.
“HalifACT aims to address the very fundamental principles and action for which we advocate,” Meredith Baldwin, the EAC’s Sustainable Cities Coordinator. “Overall, it is an ambitious and considerate report looking at many pressing climate change issues. It will require HRM’s commitment, and secured, sustained funding over several decades. Without that, HalifACT is only a vision.”
The report outlines measures for the municipality to remain under 1.5 degree Celsius of warming; the target identified by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2016 as the tipping point for before our species experiences the catastrophic and irreversible environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change.
The report recommends a range of measures such as retrofitting municipal buildings to be net zero, a framework to protect critical infrastructure, plans to prioritize naturalization and rising sea levels, as well as a strategy for electrifying the municipality’s fleet. Despite this, the report acknowledges the 1.5ºC carbon budget will be exceeded by eight megatonnes of CO2 emissions.
“Every day that we wait to take more action on climate change, we put our community, economy, and environment at greater risk. Relying on yet-to-be-developed technologies to compensate for the five percent gap to stay below the 1.5ºC tipping point is a gamble,” says Kelsey Lane, Sustainable Transportation Coordinator for the Ecology Action Centre.
The HalifACT plan recognizes the threats of climate change to biodiversity. "There are nature-based climate solutions, like green infrastructure to mitigate storm runoff, which address both biodiversity threats and provide increased carbon sequestration. We'll continue to work with HRM to ensure these solutions are achieved," say Baldwin.
“We understand municipal governments in particular are under stress right now. However, climate action is integral, not separate, to the financial health of our municipality,” explains Lane. “When there’s investment in climate solutions, such as those outlined in the report, it produces more jobs, saves millions over the next 20 years, and increases our resilience in response to future crises.”
Significant community stakeholder input was sought during development of the report. “We applaud the engagement HRM has demonstrated thus far and hope it is just the beginning. Climate action needs to meaningfully connect industry, our communities and government if we are going to achieve the targets and see changes,” says Lane.
Since early June, the Ecology Action Centre has gathered over 1000 signatures in support of its Just and Green Recovery Principles document and believes the approval of the HalifACT 2050 moves us one step closer to realizing those values. “It is critical that HRM Council support the plan. Then the real work begins,” says Baldwin.