Kingston City Council Declares a Climate Emergency

Though far from Guelph, Kingston is not so far from mind for local environmentalists today as the Limestone City has become the first municipality in Ontario to declare a climate emergency.

The unanimous resolution from Kingston’s City Council said that the measure was “for the purposes of naming, framing and deepening our commitment to protecting our economy, our ecosystems and our community from climate change,” according to the Kingston Whig-Standard.

The measure was brought forward by Robert Kiley, a councillor in Kingston’s Ward 6 who’s also ran three times for the provincial Green Party. “We need to act. That is undeniably the message around the horseshoe tonight,” Kiley said in council. “If we pass this and do not act for five, 10 years, none of us deserve to be re-elected.”

The declaration doesn’t bring with it any specific measures or new bylaws, but Kiley told the CBC prior to the vote that the intent was to enshrine his city’s commitment to battling climate change.

“We want to declare a climate emergency, essentially to give the city further impetus to act on climate as quickly and swiftly and efficiently as possible, because we know that climate change threatens our very way of life, economically, socially, environmentally,” he said.

Kingston had previous pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by the year 2030. A local group called Kingston Climate Hub says that while the City of Kingston is on track to hit a 15 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, there’s still a lot of work to do for them to get to the full 30 per cent in the next 11 years.

It probably shouldn’t be too surprising that Kingston wants to make climate change a priority as the city was hit last summer with a major storm that caused flooding in the downtown core. According to Global News, 80 mm of rain fell in minutes, which flooded out several small businesses, and cause power outages in several different areas of the city.

In any event, Kingston joins Halifax, Vancouver, and several Quebec municipalities in establishing a climate change emergency.

Photo Credit: Kingston flooding from August 2018 courtesy of the Weather Network. 

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