The Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors’ Caucus Chair Mike Savage issued the following statement ahead of the United Nations climate change conference (COP26):
“Canada is facing a climate emergency. Whether it’s wildfires, devastating flooding or fatal heatwaves, we’re experiencing the climate crisis in our cities firsthand, and more action is needed.
“Recognizing the urgency of the climate crisis, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors’ Caucus commits to taking action to keep global warming to below the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement. This means reducing global emissions to zero or net-zero by 2050 at the latest. In advance of the upcoming COP26, BCMC declares support for the Cities Race to Zero pledge as part of the United Nation's Race to Zero campaign and urges all Canadian cities to join Cities Race to Zero.
“Solutions to cut emissions already exist within our cities. Municipalities are where roughly half of Canada’s emissions are—we can’t reach our national emission reduction targets without substantially reducing emissions from buildings, transportation and waste. By taking action now, we can create jobs as part of a green and inclusive economic recovery from COVID-19. With a unified resolve and coordinated action we can slash emissions and avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change—only if we act quickly enough.
“Cities are taking action by investing in initiatives that lower emissions and increase the resiliency of communities, and we are creating jobs and building Canada’s low-emission energy future. Look no further than Edmonton’s Community Energy Transition Strategy, Saskatoon’s Low Emissions Community Plan, Toronto’s TransformTO, Montréal’s Climate Plan, Halifax’s HalifACT climate plan and the seven Low Carbon Cities centres supported by FCM through funding from the Government of Canada. These local action plans and initiatives, developed through extensive community consultation, include the ingredients that will get us to net zero. Now we need to deepen the partnership with our federal and provincial counterparts to accelerate action and scale up impact.
“Federal investments in public transit—including new funding in Budget 2021 for electric transit buses, long-term support for transit expansion through the Permanent Public Transit Fund, and a commitment to increase housing density through the proposed Housing Accelerator Fund—are the foundation for net-zero cities. But we can and we must do much more. With support from federal and provincial governments, cities can identify and create pathways to net zero buildings, transportation, and waste. In the near-term, this requires rapidly scaling up federal investments in proven solutions that will enable Canada to achieve its 2030 climate target, including investments in deep energy retrofits of buildings, community energy generation, zero-emission vehicles, active transportation, waste and water management, natural climate solutions and net-zero land-use planning. Beyond investment, Canada’s GHG reduction plan should align investment with local and regional emission reduction strategies and integrate local GHG emissions into reporting at the national level. And collectively, the public and private sector need to continue to improve the technical capacity required to build net-zero cities.
“Canada’s mayors are committed to putting inclusive climate action front and centre when it comes to urban decision-making, to create thriving and equitable communities for everyone. It is also imperative that we don’t leave communities and regions behind as we transition to net zero. Communities in energy-producing regions must be at the heart of governments’ climate and energy policies. Through the work already underway by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, we call on the federal government to implement comprehensive place-based policies and programs to ensure economic prosperity for all regions of the country as part of a transition to net zero.
“As Caucus Chair I plan to represent Canadian cities at the COP26 climate conference next month, engaging with mayors from around the world who are committed to taking urgent action on the climate crisis.”
FCM’s Big City Mayors' Caucus is the voice of 22 of Canada's biggest cities. FCM is the national voice of municipal governments, with nearly 2,000 members representing more than 90 per cent of the Canadian population.
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FCM Media Relations, (613) 907-6395, firstname.lastname@example.org