Mayor raises climate change agenda for Brantford

News Oct 07, 2015 by Brian Shypula Brant News

Brantford Mayor Chris Friel is looking to move the city forward on a climate change agenda by early next year.

The discussion warmed up last Thursday, with Ontario Minister of Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray as the guest speaker at the annual Mayor’s Luncheon hosted by Friel.

“This is the first issue we’ve ever dealt with as humanity that is actually a risk to our survival on this planet,” Murray said to 135 community leaders gathered at Brantford Golf and Country Club.

The concentration of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas in the atmosphere – the primary driver of climate change – surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time earlier this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The planet is headed for a 4 C increase in average temperature by mid-century, Murray said.

When scientists began sounding alarms on climate change in the 1980s the threshold was 2 C.

Murray has a five-year-old grandson. “I fear for the quality of his life,” he said.

“I don’t think we’re leaving him the legacy equivalent to our parents,” the minister said.

Would one small southwestern Ontario city going green make a difference in a worldwide phenomenon?

More than 70 jurisdictions around the world have signed the Under 2 MOU, a voluntary pact that seeks to reduce emission of greenhouse gases by at least 80 per cent compared with 1990s levels.

For municipalities, climate change is about much more than reducing their own greenhouse gases and carbon footprints.

“How does a municipality adapt to the changes that are coming and what investments are we going to make to deal with the adaptation that’s necessary,” Friel said.

In a nutshell, adaptation is about having infrastructure able to withstand extreme weather brought on by climate change.

Murray cited the F3 tornado that ripped through Goderich in 2011, the Toronto ice storm in 2013 and the Burlington floods in 2014 as examples of the extreme weather.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when are we going to get hit by something,” Friel said.

The “bulk” of Brantford’s risk-management strategy around emergency measures relates to climate change, he said.

Friel attributed an increase in water main breaks in Brantford to the changing weather. “We’ve got to get below where the frost line used to be,” he said.

Ontario municipalities face billions of dollars in infrastructure costs related to adaptation. Friel said Brantford alone has a $160 million infrastructure deficit and $3 billion in assets.

“This is about economics, it’s not just about the environment and we have to be conscious of that on a regular basis,” Friel said.

Without naming names, he said there are some “hard-driving deniers” on council who won’t support the climate change agenda.

“Part of the reason for doing this today is because I know what an uphill battle I have, both in my council and in the community,” he said.

The mayor might be able to convince naysayers who reject the environmental case with a business argument.

It’s a bit like the adage about the early bird getting the worm. There’s a bigger slice of the green technology sector marketplace pie and bigger share of the $130 billion in provincial infrastructure funding over the next decade for municipalities who push their chips into the centre of the table.

Murray challenged Brantford, Brant and Six Nations to become Ontario’s first net-zero carbon municipality.

“We need the model community,” he said.

Creating public plug-in stations and transitioning Brantford’s vehicle fleet of cars and trucks to electric vehicles would be a step in the right direction, Friel said.

“I’ve got staff that are already looking at this because it’s become so readily available and economically viable now,” he said.

Ontario is introducing a carbon cap-and-trade plan linked to existing systems in Quebec and California.

“You can’t allow people to dump pollutants in the atmosphere like it’s a big landfill,” Murray said.

Mayor raises climate change agenda for Brantford

News Oct 07, 2015 by Brian Shypula Brant News

Brantford Mayor Chris Friel is looking to move the city forward on a climate change agenda by early next year.

The discussion warmed up last Thursday, with Ontario Minister of Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray as the guest speaker at the annual Mayor’s Luncheon hosted by Friel.

“This is the first issue we’ve ever dealt with as humanity that is actually a risk to our survival on this planet,” Murray said to 135 community leaders gathered at Brantford Golf and Country Club.

The concentration of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas in the atmosphere – the primary driver of climate change – surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time earlier this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The planet is headed for a 4 C increase in average temperature by mid-century, Murray said.

When scientists began sounding alarms on climate change in the 1980s the threshold was 2 C.

Murray has a five-year-old grandson. “I fear for the quality of his life,” he said.

“I don’t think we’re leaving him the legacy equivalent to our parents,” the minister said.

Would one small southwestern Ontario city going green make a difference in a worldwide phenomenon?

More than 70 jurisdictions around the world have signed the Under 2 MOU, a voluntary pact that seeks to reduce emission of greenhouse gases by at least 80 per cent compared with 1990s levels.

For municipalities, climate change is about much more than reducing their own greenhouse gases and carbon footprints.

“How does a municipality adapt to the changes that are coming and what investments are we going to make to deal with the adaptation that’s necessary,” Friel said.

In a nutshell, adaptation is about having infrastructure able to withstand extreme weather brought on by climate change.

Murray cited the F3 tornado that ripped through Goderich in 2011, the Toronto ice storm in 2013 and the Burlington floods in 2014 as examples of the extreme weather.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when are we going to get hit by something,” Friel said.

The “bulk” of Brantford’s risk-management strategy around emergency measures relates to climate change, he said.

Friel attributed an increase in water main breaks in Brantford to the changing weather. “We’ve got to get below where the frost line used to be,” he said.

Ontario municipalities face billions of dollars in infrastructure costs related to adaptation. Friel said Brantford alone has a $160 million infrastructure deficit and $3 billion in assets.

“This is about economics, it’s not just about the environment and we have to be conscious of that on a regular basis,” Friel said.

Without naming names, he said there are some “hard-driving deniers” on council who won’t support the climate change agenda.

“Part of the reason for doing this today is because I know what an uphill battle I have, both in my council and in the community,” he said.

The mayor might be able to convince naysayers who reject the environmental case with a business argument.

It’s a bit like the adage about the early bird getting the worm. There’s a bigger slice of the green technology sector marketplace pie and bigger share of the $130 billion in provincial infrastructure funding over the next decade for municipalities who push their chips into the centre of the table.

Murray challenged Brantford, Brant and Six Nations to become Ontario’s first net-zero carbon municipality.

“We need the model community,” he said.

Creating public plug-in stations and transitioning Brantford’s vehicle fleet of cars and trucks to electric vehicles would be a step in the right direction, Friel said.

“I’ve got staff that are already looking at this because it’s become so readily available and economically viable now,” he said.

Ontario is introducing a carbon cap-and-trade plan linked to existing systems in Quebec and California.

“You can’t allow people to dump pollutants in the atmosphere like it’s a big landfill,” Murray said.

Mayor raises climate change agenda for Brantford

News Oct 07, 2015 by Brian Shypula Brant News

Brantford Mayor Chris Friel is looking to move the city forward on a climate change agenda by early next year.

The discussion warmed up last Thursday, with Ontario Minister of Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray as the guest speaker at the annual Mayor’s Luncheon hosted by Friel.

“This is the first issue we’ve ever dealt with as humanity that is actually a risk to our survival on this planet,” Murray said to 135 community leaders gathered at Brantford Golf and Country Club.

The concentration of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas in the atmosphere – the primary driver of climate change – surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time earlier this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The planet is headed for a 4 C increase in average temperature by mid-century, Murray said.

When scientists began sounding alarms on climate change in the 1980s the threshold was 2 C.

Murray has a five-year-old grandson. “I fear for the quality of his life,” he said.

“I don’t think we’re leaving him the legacy equivalent to our parents,” the minister said.

Would one small southwestern Ontario city going green make a difference in a worldwide phenomenon?

More than 70 jurisdictions around the world have signed the Under 2 MOU, a voluntary pact that seeks to reduce emission of greenhouse gases by at least 80 per cent compared with 1990s levels.

For municipalities, climate change is about much more than reducing their own greenhouse gases and carbon footprints.

“How does a municipality adapt to the changes that are coming and what investments are we going to make to deal with the adaptation that’s necessary,” Friel said.

In a nutshell, adaptation is about having infrastructure able to withstand extreme weather brought on by climate change.

Murray cited the F3 tornado that ripped through Goderich in 2011, the Toronto ice storm in 2013 and the Burlington floods in 2014 as examples of the extreme weather.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when are we going to get hit by something,” Friel said.

The “bulk” of Brantford’s risk-management strategy around emergency measures relates to climate change, he said.

Friel attributed an increase in water main breaks in Brantford to the changing weather. “We’ve got to get below where the frost line used to be,” he said.

Ontario municipalities face billions of dollars in infrastructure costs related to adaptation. Friel said Brantford alone has a $160 million infrastructure deficit and $3 billion in assets.

“This is about economics, it’s not just about the environment and we have to be conscious of that on a regular basis,” Friel said.

Without naming names, he said there are some “hard-driving deniers” on council who won’t support the climate change agenda.

“Part of the reason for doing this today is because I know what an uphill battle I have, both in my council and in the community,” he said.

The mayor might be able to convince naysayers who reject the environmental case with a business argument.

It’s a bit like the adage about the early bird getting the worm. There’s a bigger slice of the green technology sector marketplace pie and bigger share of the $130 billion in provincial infrastructure funding over the next decade for municipalities who push their chips into the centre of the table.

Murray challenged Brantford, Brant and Six Nations to become Ontario’s first net-zero carbon municipality.

“We need the model community,” he said.

Creating public plug-in stations and transitioning Brantford’s vehicle fleet of cars and trucks to electric vehicles would be a step in the right direction, Friel said.

“I’ve got staff that are already looking at this because it’s become so readily available and economically viable now,” he said.

Ontario is introducing a carbon cap-and-trade plan linked to existing systems in Quebec and California.

“You can’t allow people to dump pollutants in the atmosphere like it’s a big landfill,” Murray said.