Climate change: Local solutions are the key (21/11/2016)
Don Iveson, Mayor of Edmonton and Chair of FCM's Big City Mayors' Caucus, issued the following statement on the conclusion of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) on climate change held November 7-18 in Marrakech, Morocco.
It was an eye-opening honour to represent Canada's municipal sector last week at the COP22 climate summit. Day after day in Marrakech, I was struck by two things. First, the world increasingly gets it: cities need to be at the heart of this fight for our planet. Second, we're on the cusp of tremendous economic opportunities here as well.
As the COP process has evolved, so too has the municipal presence. We have grown from observer status, to staging side events, to taking our full place on official national delegations. In Marrakech, cities were the focus of some of the highest-profile discussions. On Tuesday, I spoke at an event highlighting the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, a new initiative convening 7,100 cities to coordinate local climate action.
Here in Canada, municipalities influence half of our country's GHG emissions. And we were able to tell the world how we are responding with some of Canada's most innovative low-carbon practices. Since 1994, the 300 member municipalities of FCM's Partners for Climate Protection program have cut 1.8 million tonnes from Canada's carbon footprint - through building retrofits, district heating, low-GHG waste systems and more. FCM's Green Municipal Fund is seeding deep local innovation that has already cut nearly half a million tonnes of GHGs.
Some of the richest potential to reduce Canada's GHG emissions lies in scaling up this local innovation. This is why the new federal commitment to invest in green infrastructure can be the heart of Canada's climate strategy - if it puts local solutions first. And I do want to commend federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna for her leadership here. As a down payment on the progress we need, her government recently funded FCM's Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program. This will give local governments new tools to make smart infrastructure decisions that support GHG reductions and climate resiliency.
In Marrakech, Minister McKenna championed the message that confronting climate change presents great economic opportunities as well. FCM strongly agrees. We believe Canada has the talent and culture of innovation to help lead a global shift toward clean technology and deep conservation. And by scaling up local solutions, we will be generating sustainable growth, new sectors of green jobs, cleaner water for our children, and yes, faster commute times as well. Canada's cities and communities are ready. FCM will continue working with all our partners — federal, provincial, Indigenous, international — to meet Canada's climate challenge, while improving our quality of life from coast to coast to coast.