With climate change discussions and calls to action becoming more front and centre around the world and an international conference taking place in Edmonton last month, residents might be wondering what exactly these conversations and actions mean for our city. What impacts will a changing climate have on our environment and economy and what choices are we facing as a city?
The City of Edmonton’s Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Strategy has started to chart a course for how our municipality can help meet our obligations to reduce emissions and become more conscious of our role in this global issue.
But, are we doing enough? How do we get everyone on board and take our plan from talk to action? While governments explore options and strategies, where does that leave individuals?
Are we doing enough?
How do we get from talk to action?
We know that overarching changes can’t happen without public support and requests from government for the bold, decisive actions required to meet the challenges that a changing climate is bringing our way.
There are many ways that a changing climate is giving us new and exacerbated challenges.
While many Edmontonians associate climate change with longer summers and warmer winters, it also brings risk of intense floods, droughts, invasive pests, heat waves, higher food prices and ice storms.Extreme weather events come with huge price tags. From damaged crops and infrastructure to higher insurance rates, there is a cost to each of us.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada has been sounding the alarm about the cost that weather disasters add to insurance rates and provides an impetus for change.
By preparing now for climate change, we can be in a better position to weather future climate shocks and stresses.
My Food and Agri-business Diversification Council Initiative will focus on the food resilience aspect of climate change, while also supporting economic development and sustainable value-added employment opportunities.
“Food resilience” means being able, at all times, to acquire safe, nutritionally adequate and personally and culturally acceptable foods, produced in ways that are environmental sound and socially just.
Risks associated with climate disruptions, international food policies and higher priced fossil fuels could reduce our access to global food systems.
A resilient food supply is just one piece of a system that we need to put in place.
There are all sorts of actions we can take- some are quick and easy, while others require planning and resources. We need to decide as a city how much we are willing to put ourselves at risk and how much we want to invest in our future security.
Deciding how much to do and how fast to do it is a matter of what kind of risks we are willing to tolerate.
<<<————HIGH RISK———————————————–LOW RISK————>>>
There will need to be financial investments into infrastructure, programs and public awareness to support our energy transition. The majority of these costs will pay off multifold into the future. But our commitment will also require us to change the way we think about our lifestyles and our behaviours. Some of the changes we need to make may be uncomfortable or different than the way we’re used to operating, but if we aren’t honest about these facts and face them with determination, we will all pay the cost- a cost which is far greater over the long-term than the cost of making changes now. Kicking this problem down the road is not a future we want to give to our children. We all want to provide for our families and secure their health and financial and educational future, but if we ignore their environmental future, all our efforts will be for naught.
To stay on the path we’re on without a plan and steps forward, we would be compromising our ability to respond to what may come and it would leave us unprepared and unable to mitigate future costs and disruptions. The status quo also simply means we continue to contribute to the problem.
Lowering our risk factors will require taking the issue of climate change seriously and recognizing what we have to lose. It means putting forth a concerted effort and the necessary resources to make real adjustments to position our city for success.
Edmonton’s City Council can’t do this work alone. All Edmontonians have a role in shaping our future through their own choices and by letting their elected representatives know what direction they want to take and how fast they want us to move on this work.
Check out what the City of Edmonton is doing and share your feedback and ideas.
At the end of the day, it’s everyone’s city and everyone’s future. We’re in it together and we all have a stake in building a city that will thrive for generations.
The changes we need to make aren’t for our climate, they’re for ourselves.