Declaring a climate emergency publicly acknowledges the urgency of the climate crisis and communicates the need for rapid and dramatic change in local policy and operations. It encourages evaluation of all new and existing projects through the lens of green house gas (GHG) emissions reduction and climate adaptation. Furthermore, the declaration of a climate emergency will raise the standard of success so that City of Kelowna staff, Mayor, and Council can set new goals which must then be achieved. Choosing not to declare a climate emergency is our community leaders choosing not to be accountable to our community.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its ‘Summary for Policymaker’s’ report in March 2023. In Kelowna, our policymakers are our Mayor and Council; however, they have been unwilling to publicly acknowledge the Climate Emergency that we face together. The release of the 2023 IPCC report came with dire warnings from the UN Secretary General: “Every year of insufficient action to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius drives us closer to the brink, increasing systemic risks and reducing our resilience against climate catastrophe.” Previously, during the November 2022 COP 27 conference in Egypt the UN Secretary General stated, “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.”
Our province has seen a devastating flood followed by a killer heat dome, both events severely impacted our city, and yet our Mayor and Council continue to self-isolate from the reality of Climate Change. We should all be asking: How bad is bad enough before our city acknowledges the Climate Emergency?