An international report concludes that there is no escape from global warming, but that did not surprise members of the Weather Caucus, a group of elected officials from across the country who make climate a priority in their work.
“The report is by no means a surprise,” said group founder Nelson city councilor Rik Logtenberg. âWe knew it was going to happen. We knew this would be a strong warning.
The Climate Caucus has gained 400 members from across the country since its inception two years ago. Logtenberg said the group’s work is based on data produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which recently released Climate change 2021: the physical science Based which concludes that global warming is likely to increase by about 1.5 C within two decades.
The report has 234 authors from 66 countries, with 517 other contributing authors. It contains cited references to 14,000 studies.
The IPCC is the United Nations body, established in 1988, that assesses the science related to climate change. It will sponsor an international conference, known as COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland this fall, attended by around 190 world leaders.
“The report helps communicate the emergency to people who haven’t heeded it,” Logtenberg said, adding that many caucus members have suffered the direct effects of climate change this summer, including drought and wildfires in disastrous forest.
âWe don’t need outside reports to see what’s going on,â Logtenberg said. âWe can see it with our own eyes. “
He gave the example of the Sunshine Coast, which he says is at risk of running out of clean water this fall due to heat waves and drought, as well as an increase in population from other parts. of the province to escape the smoke of forest fires.
“This is happening in British Columbia, and one of the unintended effects is the pressure on the resources of the communities that must support these migrants,” Logtenberg said.
This was confirmed by Donna McMahon, Director of the Sunshine Coast Regional District, in a telephone interview with the Nelson Star. She said it was the same in the Gulf Islands and on Vancouver Island.
âI just emailed a friend of mine who lives outside of Kelowna,â McMahon said. âShe just self-evacuated and drove to Vancouver, but she said the people of Penticton were sleeping in their cars. I don’t know where people will go if they have to evacuate some of these places.
This is an example of how municipalities are on the front lines of climate change, Logtenberg said, as their health, property, infrastructure and economies are directly threatened. He said transportation and buildings are the biggest producers of greenhouse gases in the country and that municipalities have a lot of control over both.
Judy O’Leary from Nelson works for the Climate Caucus as one of its coordinators. She says the organization has working groups on many aspects of climate change, including building renovations, water resilience, and valuation of natural assets.
The group is lobbying the BC government for a provincial building retrofit incentive scheme, similar to Nelson’s EcoSave program. On this front, the caucus is working in collaboration with the climate group Help cities lead.
O’Leary said the Caucus Nature-Based Solutions project examines how municipalities can place a value on natural assets – streams, shorelines, wetlands, forests – so that they appear on the city’s books as that assets and are not discounted when environmental decisions are made.
Another working group is made up of outdoor recreation communities affected by climate change, in collaboration with the ski industry group Protect our winters and the University of Waterloo.
O’Leary said the caucus provides invaluable support to its member city councilors.
âSometimes it’s a bit lonely for some of these advisers who might be the only one on their board who is climate-friendly,â she said.
The caucus created a advisor manual, available on its website, where members can find ready-made plans, based on experience and research in other communities, with references and contact information.
There are sections on transport, buildings, zero waste, nature-based solutions and food security.
The IPCC report finds that “unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to 1.5 C or even 2 C will be out of reach. , Causing heat waves that would affect global agriculture and health.
An increase of 1.5 C is generally considered the maximum the planet could withstand without widespread social, environmental and economic upheaval.
The increase in temperature, in addition to making the world warmer, will lead to more intense precipitation and flooding, changes in global precipitation regimes, sea level rise, permafrost thaw, loss glaciers and ice caps, marine heat waves, ocean acidification and warming, the report states. Some of these changes, once in place, could take decades or centuries to reverse.
UN Secretary General AntÃ³nio Guterres called the report a “red code for humanity”.
“The alarm bells are deafening,” he said in a statement. “This report must spell the end of coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.”