As Chair of the Canadian Big City Mayors’ group, I am in Marrakech this week for the COP22 Climate Change Conference. I am grateful to Environment & Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna for the opportunity to join her as part of the Canadian delegation and for including the municipal perspective in implementing the Paris Agreement.
This is an important opportunity to highlight the importance of the federal/provincial/municipal partnership on tackling climate change and to showcase Edmonton’s environmental leadership.
I often say that the answer to some of our greatest challenges will be found in cities and federal and provincial governments won’t get far in meeting their greenhouse gas targets without the deep involvement of local governments. With the Paris Agreement going into force on November 4, tying national governments to even tighter greenhouse gas targets, the municipal sector is being called upon to play a larger role than ever before in achieving climate change mitigation objectives.
This is refreshing since Canadian municipalities have been talking about the need for action on climate change for more than 20 years. We can be proud that some of the finest examples of how cities are stepping up and answering the call can be found in Edmonton.
One way we’ve demonstrated leadership is through the facilities we build and support in the community. Projects like our new LEED Transit Facility, Edmonton Composting Facility and Solar & Energy Savings Program help set Edmonton apart from other municipalities and demonstrate leadership by example. Through our Blatchford redevelopment project, we are showcasing how sustainability and quality of life intersect in a community that will one day be home to 30,000 people – one of the largest carbon-neutral communities of its kind in the world.
And of course, Edmonton’s Community Energy Transition Strategy is one of the most progressive in North America for defining the many pathways our city will take to reduce our carbon emissions – from the fleets of city vehicles on our streets to the kind of power we produce and purchase. At COP22 I’ll be discussing these projects and talking about how our Federal and Provincial governments policies around – for example, pricing carbon pollution – support the economics behind our city’s leadership on these key projects.
This gathering of world leaders in Marrakech takes place amidst the backdrop of a change in government south of the border that in many ways calls for us to be even more united, more evidence-based and more committed to steady leadership on tackling climate change. It also underscores the need to increase resilience and adapt to changing conditions.
Local governments influence around half of Canada’s GHG emissions, so local action is critical to meeting Canada’s GHG targets – and showing the world a path to sustainability. The technologies Canadians innovate, like Enerkem’s waste to biofuel plant at our Waste Management Centre, represent the kind of opportunity for technology and export-based ‘clean growth’ that comes with environmental leadership. Innovation in our oil and gas sector to extract and process resources in more water and carbon efficient ways similarly represent an opportunity for exportable innovation and ground zero could be the Edmonton Metro region.
Given the opportunities and the imperatives, it’s never been more urgent for all orders of government to deepen our partnership. That’s why we are driving an agenda of collaboration with the Government of Canada and Province of Alberta to meet our climate challenge head-on.