By Eugene Kayal, special for CityHallWatch
Building on the release of the Climate 2050 Strategic Framework in September 2018, Metro Vancouver held a well-attended Sustainability Community Breakfast on December 12 to outline the next steps in creating and implementing our regional climate change adaptation and mitigation plans.
Presenting were Jason Emmert, Air Quality Planner at Metro Vancouver, Tamsin Mills, Senior Sustainability Specialist for the City of Vancouver, and Angie Woo, Climate Resilience & Adaptation Lead for the Fraser Health Authority.
They were introduced by Sav Dhaliwal, Burnaby City Councillor and new Chair of Metro Vancouver, who opened by highlighting the commitment to an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. [CityHallWatch note: This target may be seriously lacking in ambition with the latest IPCC report, released in October, showing that we may have only until 2050 to achieve net-zero emissions and keep warming under 1.5°C.]
In his introduction, Councillor Dhaliwal focused the event on “adaptation” strategies. Detailed plans for emissions reductions (“mitigation”) will be part of future work as the more detailed Climate 2050 Roadmaps for the region are developed over the next two years.
As stated during the presentations, a certain amount of climate change is already “baked in” due to current and historical emissions. The summary of the IPCC report further explains that “[w]arming from anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial period to the present will persist for centuries to millennia and will continue to cause further long-term changes in the climate system.”
The speakers presented Metro Vancouver-specific climate projections that show we can expect warmer, wetter winters, drier summers, and more extreme weather events over the coming decades.
Less snow will imperil water supplies in the region, rising seas will put coastal infrastructure and low-lying areas at risk of more frequent and destructive flooding, and hotter summers will expose significant numbers of people to extreme heat as well as air quality risks from forest fires.
Some of the adaptation strategies being explored are setting back new developments from the coast to allow for flood planning infrastructure, planting more trees in high-risk urban areas to reduce heat exposure, and using detailed climate projections to build future healthcare infrastructure where it will be most needed.
It’s worth noting that the session, despite a 7:30 AM start, was standing room only. The presenters showed that there is a lot of good work being done to protect our regional infrastructure, and the audience showed that people here are engaged and interested in seeing the solutions on offer. Given the timelines presented though, I doubt we’ll see any major changes soon.
1. Metro Vancouver
Climate 2050 Strategic Framework: http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/air-quality/AirQualityPublications/AQ_C2050-StrategicFramework.pdf
Strata Energy Advisor helps stratas reduce GHGS. Launched May 2018
2. City of Vancouver
Climate Action Strategy 2012
Greenest City 2015-2020 Action Plan
3. Fraser Health Energy & Environmental Sustainability
4. Province of British Columbia
CleanBC Plan. (Provincial climate plan launched December 2018)
Climate Change landing page
Adaptation and Climate Impacts
5. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
IPCC Special Report “Global Warming of 1.5 ºC”
6. University of Victoria Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium
(Provides practical information on physical impacts of climate variability and change in the Pacific and Yukon Region of Canada. Collaborates with climate researchers and regional stakeholders to produce knowledge and tools in support of long-term planning.)