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Council seeks to curb greenhouse gas emissions despite colleague’s 'Climate Change Warriors' criticism

There’s no sugar-coating the challenge facing London if the community is to meet its greenhouse gas targets in the Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP).

Council launched the plan last April, but total greenhouse gas emissions in London rose year over year from 2021.

“It’s discouraging this year,” Director of Climate Change, Environment, and Solid Waste Jay Stanford told council during a committee meeting. “But at the same time, there are some positive aspects and we want to make sure all those are captured.”

Stanford says several factors contributed to the total greenhouse gas emissions in 2022 including the end of the pandemic, population growth and provincial decisions to generate more electricity from natural gas.

The goal of the CEAP is for London to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Looming on the horizon is the first emission target in 2030.

“It’s very easy to endorse a plan, but what are we doing about it? How are we setting an example?” asked Coun. Anna Hopkins.

Total community greenhouse gas emissions in London (Source: City of London)Coun. Skylar Franke was blunt, “It kind of looks like we’re throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what will stick, hoping that our emissions will be reduced. I wonder if there’s a more scientific way that we are working on making those reductions?”

Franke suggested an amendment that aimed to ensure city hall set a good example by:

  • training municipal staff about the Climate Emergency Action Plan
  • increasing CEAP update reports to twice a year
  • develop a net-zero emissions plan for corporate assets including the municipal vehicle fleet and facilities
  • ensure asset management projects on municipal infrastructure make efforts towards net-zero targets

“We’re little London, Ont. and we’re trying to act like Climate Change Warriors,” said Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen.

He warned against taking what he described as a “dictatorial” approach with climate change policies aimed at citizens.

He added that the impact China has on global greenhouse gas emissions should be kept in mind.

“We’re going to be seeing more and more of the so-called climate change lens affecting our daily lives in London, Ont. Meanwhile, global atmosphere is not going to be changed by anything that is done in London, at all,” he told fellow councillors.

“What happens in London matters incredibly,” responded Franke. “We need to continue showing leadership to all of Ontario, to Canada and to the rest of the world.”

The Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee supported Franke’s motion 11 to 2, Van Meerbergen and Hillier opposed.

After watching the meeting from the public gallery, Mary Ann Hodge of Climate Action London said, “Six-and-a-half years to reach our 2030 target is not a lot of time, and I think that we need to get more creative about how we can move things forward.”

The upcoming 2024-2027 Municipal Budget is anticipated to include funding to support the Climate Emergency Action Plan. Top Stories


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