Tick tock on climate change action
A graduate of the University of Toronto, Trevor Hutchinson is a songwriter, writer and bookkeeper. He serves as Contributing Editor at The Lindsay Advocate. He lives with his fiancee and their five kids in Lindsay.
It’s possible that you’re as shocked as I am that it’s 2024. I’m sure my journals over the years would show lists outlining ambitious plans: by 2005 I wanted to own “x.” By 2015 I wanted to be “y.” And yet here I am, in a year that seemed science-fictiony in my youth, with more than a few unrealized goals.
Except for the super high achievers among us, we all experience this to some extent. The same can be said about our communal goal setting.
Take the City of Kawartha Lakes’ Healthy Environment Plan (HEP) for example. Released in 2019 after two years of extensive research and community consultation, the HEP is a very aspirational plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take other measures to mitigate the effects of climate change within the city.
While very light on policy mechanisms and costing, the HEP is bold in its targets. Aligning with federal and provincial targets, the plan calls to reduce GHGs produced in the city to 20 per cent below 2015 levels by 2030. The HEP sets a high bar for the political leaders and city staff: “We will be leaders in addressing our changing climate to ensure a healthy environment and a prosperous community.”
I receive every public-facing communication from the city. Maybe it’s just me, but I am not feeling that envisioned leadership on climate change. Where are the annual report cards? How have we done in the five years since the plan was announced? How is our 2030 target (which is a short six years away) looking? Why don’t we have electric vehicle charging stations? Is the city fleet moving off fossil? Can we spur innovations in agriculture GHGs?
Climate change is real, and it is increasing at an alarming rate. Of course, it has been allowed to become a political issue. And there are possibly current councillors that doubt the science of climate change. Thing is, science is not an opinion. Late last month the entire world met at COP24 (the UN Climate Change conference). Items being discussed there include timing the complete phase-out of fossil fuels.
The science is real. Our climate is changing. We have to take action now. And by action, I mean education, local mitigation measures (building codes, transportation), and advocacy where needed to higher levels of government.
It doesn’t matter if a climate-change-denying bro with a diesel stack lets off a performative smoke show when passing an electric vehicle. That way of thinking will one day be extinct. Council should ignore that misguided sentiment and start being the leaders they aspire to be.