In December 2015, Canada ratified the Paris Agreement to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C but closer to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. As a Canadian city, we must respond to this international call to action and reduce our carbon emissions by at least 30% (from 2005 levels) by 2030 according to the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

Recently the City of Edmonton also hosted the first-ever Cities and Climate Change Science Conference where Mayor Iveson made the Edmonton Declaration — a call to Mayors of cities and communities of all sizes from around the world to seriously consider the role of scientific research and data in building ambitious climate action plans, and to prioritize science-based decision making to reinforce the targets of the Paris Agreement.

On May 22nd Edmonton responded by calling for a Corporate Greenhouse Gas Management Plan that exceeds the Pan Canadian Framework. This plan includes changes such as energy retrofits for older buildings, solar tied to city buildings, buying electric buses to replace diesel (as the buses need to be replaced), switching all street lights to LED and purchasing 100% green energy.  This will not only reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% (compared to 2005 levels) by 2030, this actually has a very strong business case. If we follow through with this, by 2030 the city will have saved an estimated $76 Million.

A strategic approach to climate action within cities – these are highest value carbon-reduction opportunities cities can invest in|

The problem of achieving our greenhouse gas targets is no longer a technical or financial one, but rather one of political will. The truth is 73% of Edmontonians believe that we should support actions to fight climate change, however, only 39% of people believe that others support actions to fight climate change.  It’s clear that we do not have faith in one another to overcome this challenge together, which is why we need leadership from all orders of government to bring our communities together in tackling this global issue.

It is important for the city to be a strong financial and environmental steward. Edmonton can, should and will be a global climate leader. Together we can all make this happen.

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