Letters to the Editor

Write: letters@ok.bc.ca

Kelowna must address climate emergency

Dear Editor:

Two headlines in this week’s news should be getting Kelowna’s attention.

Monday, we heard that “Kelowna is going the wrong way when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.

Tuesday, the UN announced that the “earth was set to warm by 3.2 degrees by 2100 unless efforts to cut emissions are tripled.”

Our city needs to rethink its climate change strategy, and soon.

The world is sliding towards a climate catastrophe. The last five years are the five hottest on record. Over 90% of climate scientists, and most Canadians, recognize that human activity has triggered a massive release of greenhouse gases (GHG), leading to temperature increases, changes in rainfall, and raising the frequency and magnitude of extreme events such as flooding, wildfires, and droughts.

Canadians recognize that climate change is a serious problem and 60% feel that it either is, or will soon be, an emergency. Municipalities across Canada, and the globe, have declared climate emergencies in order to mobilize the funds and tools needed to aggressively tackle the challenge of reducing GHG emissions.

In June 2018, Kelowna devised what seemed a promising climate action strategy, “Our Kelowna as We Take Action.”

This plan was deliberately moderate as data indicated that our GHG emissions were already falling and had declined 3.5% between 2007 and 2012. Kelowna had been lulled into a false sense of security. We now know that our emissions were much worse than we thought, as in 2017 total emissions increased 6%.

Earlier this year, city council declined to hold a vote on joining other cities across Canada, and the globe, to declare a climate emergency. Mayor Colin Basran expressed that Kelowna was “not considering going down that same path,” presuming that the city’s Climate Action Plan was adequate. However, the facts speak otherwise.

It is time to recognize the obvious and declare that Kelowna, like the rest of the world, is facing a climate emergency. Declaring a climate emergency will provide city staff the mandate to assemble more tools to strengthen Kelowna’s climate action plan, and quickly.

We urge all residents to contact mayor and council, and demand that Kelowna declare a climate emergency and strengthen our action plan to reduce GHG emissions. We must act now. Climate change is no longer disputable. The impacts are real and the causes are known. Time is of the essence.

Tom Warshawski

BC Greens, Greater Kelowna