Where is Climate in the Municipal Election?

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that global warming would become such a hot issue.”
Premier Ralph Klein, July 2008, in a Calgary Herald interview 2 years after leaving office

Since then, the issue has only become hotter (pun intended). The unexpectedly ambitious Paris Agreement was signed some 18 months ago. Investors with trillions of dollars in assets have either pulled their money out of fossil fuels or else, against the wishes of the Boards at ExxonMobil and other oil majors, insisted at annual AGMs on credible assessments of climate risk and stranded assets.

Cities are at the forefront of much of the most important action. Within 24 hours of Trump pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement, 200 US Cities along with 9 US States and hundreds of American businesses launched the We’re Still In campaign, pledging to ensure the Paris targets are met.

Do these big shifts show up in Calgary? Let’s make sure they do!

We are less than two months away from our municipal elections for Mayor, City Council, and School Board Trustees. Are your candidates willing to talk about the City’s council approved 2020 carbon reduction target? Our goal is 20% by 2020, compared to 2005 levels, but the City is actually expected to increase GHG emissions by as much as 15%, rather than decrease by 20%. Climate has yet to show up as a serious issue in the campaigns – will you join CCAN in making sure it does?

Here’s our plan. First, let’s show up at debates and open houses and ask questions about climate. Can you volunteer to show up at candidates forums to ask questions? Email us at calgaryclimateaction@gmail.com if you can, or have. We’d love to grab video whenever possible so we can share responses publicly. You can find a list of all candidates debates here: http://calgarydemocracy.ca/calendar/2017/09. You can ask the questions that seem the most important to you, or you can ask one of our three survey questions (below) which we feel point at the most important issues. We also have a longer list of possible questions to spark your imagination, at the end of this post.

Second, CCAN will be emailing a survey with these three questions on it out to all the candidates running in the October election. We’re asking that the survey be completed by September 29th, after which we’ll post the answers on our website and share them every way we know how.

  1. As the world economy transitions towards cleaner energy sources, what can our municipal government do to protect Calgary’s prosperity? How do we build a diverse and viable economy for all Calgarians, including the most vulnerable?
  2. The City’s 2017 report on climate says that “existing actions do not put Calgary in a position to meet its current GHG reduction targets in the near and long term foreseeable future.” Specifically, what would you do differently to achieve those targets?
  3. Given that the new green line, energy efficiency, and rooftop solar programs have substantial provincial funds provided from the carbon tax, what is your opinion on the provincial carbon tax? If you are not supportive of a carbon tax, what other policies would you like to see implemented to provide a similar level of emissions reductions and funding for public infrastructure and energy innovation?
  4. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada and the City of Calgary, climate change will cause increased damage from floods, hail and fires, and stress from heat and droughts. What specific actions should Calgary be taking to adapt to these risks and protect the city we love?

If you want more background on where the city is on its climate targets, you should read this report: http://agendaminutes.calgary.ca/sirepub/cache/2/eollkmqwd13nwgwlhgdudx5b/55273009112017060017508.PDF. Essentially the picture is that the city is largely on track to meet its targets for its own operations, but the targets for the community as a whole are nowhere near being met.

This years’ devastating wildfires in BC, Texas and Greenland and the lethal floods in Houston and across south Asia, especially Bangladesh, have brought home the sense of the urgency on climate action us. Let’s make sure our municipal candidates feel it too.

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”
General Eric Shinseki, former Chief of Staff, US Army

And here is the full list of questions the minds of CCAN have come up with, and we’d love to hear yours as well!

  • Are you aware of The Climate Program for the City of Calgary currently under development, and do you support it?
  • Do you think the city should meet its 2020 targets for greenhouse gas reductions?
  • As the world economy transitions towards greener fuel sources, what can our municipal government do to keep Calgary economically competitive? How do we diversify our business mix?
  • How can the municipal government help build different kinds of economies and businesses in order to ensure a just transition for vulnerable populations including low income, POC and indigenous citizens who are most likely to experience the direct effects of climate change?
  • What assets does Calgary have and how should it seize the opportunity presented by the transition to a clean energy economy?
  • Please comment on how you would shape the City of Calgary’s relationship with Enmax in order to meet the City’s climate targets?
  • The city’s report on climate targets says “Existing actions do not put Calgary in a position to meet its current GHG reduction targets in the near and long term foreseeable future.” Specifically, what would you do differently to try and achieve those targets?
  • What do you see as the role of public engagement in crafting greenhouse gas reduction plans?
  • What can the City of Calgary do to promote active engagement of its citizens in climate action?
  • How do you intend to inform Calgarian of their GHG footprint and inspire them to act to reduce it, especially given the realities that most people do not like change and carbon-intensive energy is cheap, and accessible?
  • Given that the green line, energy efficiency, and rooftop solar programs have substantial provincial funds provided from the carbon tax, what is your opinion on the carbon tax? If you are not supportive of a carbon tax, what other policies would you like to see implemented to provide a similar level of emissions reductions?
  • What is your favourite current City of Calgary climate policy?
  • What is your plan for the City to meet its 2020 GHG targets?
  • Do you think the City of Calgary should be measuring our greenhouse gas emission reductions differently?
  • What actions should the city take to make our transit, housing, and building codes more sustainable?
Where is Climate in the Municipal Election?

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