Climate Emergency (Finally) Coming to Council

After it seemed to be dead in the water (so to speak), Ward 5 Councillor Leanne Piper is bringing forward a motion with Ward 2 Councillor James Gordon to declare a climate emergency at the May 27 meeting of city council. She made the announcement in a Facebook post Friday night.

“Originally, we had only planned to bring forward a motion to change the timelines of our NetZero and 100RE goals — from 2050 to 2035 — but things have changed in the past month,” Ward 5’s Piper wrote in a statement.

Piper attributed the turnaround to “rising public support for a declaration” and her experience being in Scotland and seeing politicians in United Kingdom working together to approve a climate emergency declaration.

The formal motion, moved by Piper and seconded by Gordon, says “that the City of Guelph acknowledges the urgency of climate change and declares a global climate emergency”.

It goes on to add, “that all future reports of Council contain a section titled Climate Change Implications, that will identify how the recommendations will contribute to meeting the objectives of the CEI and/or Corporate Energy Plan.”

The climate emergency declaration effort sparked a high school rally and calls from the public to make it happen. Earlier this year, however, Piper and Gordon appeared to back down from such a move at City Hall.

In the meantime, Gordon’s special resolution to move up the City of Guelph’s deadline to go to Net Zero and 100 per cent Renewable from 2050 to 2035 also comes up for a vote at next week’s council meeting.

It remains to be seen where the councillors will sit on this but Mayor Cam Guthrie, Ward 1 Councillor Dan Gibson and Ward 6 Councillor Mark MacKinnon have made it clear they are against what they call a symbolic gesture that could actually get in the way of actionable work to mitigate change by the city.

Photo: Members of the Guelph community demonstrating for climate action in a mock funeral procession last month in from the Basilica of Our Lady.

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