Niagara Region Commits To Addressing Climate Change at Inaugural Summit

“It is within our power to undertake the activities that are needed to help slow the increase of global temperatures.”                                                                                         – Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

A  News Release from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted June 30th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

A Brief Foreword from Doug Draper at NAL –

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

I am in full agreement with the above statement, delivered by Jim Bradley, Niagara’ Regional Chair who, by the way, is  a former Ontario environment minister and one of the best environment ministers this province ever had during the years  Liberal leader David Peterson served  as premier, at the end of Niagara’s first-ever Climate Summit this past Tuesday, June 28th.

The pledge embraced at the end of that summit by our Regional government and our 12 local municipalities to work together with area agencies like the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) and institutions like Brock University to develop and make actions for addressing what many experts around the world now agree is a full-fledged crisis is a start.

And when I say it is a start, we are talking about a Niagara Region that is behind many other regions in Ontario and across the country in taking meaningful steps to deal with a crisis that bringing us more severe and frequent wind storms, flooding rains, heat waves, drought and wildfire that is taking an ever-heavier toll on our communities, our food supplies, the biodiversity on our planet, and our pocketbooks and lives.

For at least four years from 2014 and 2018, during the God-awful Caslin administration at the regional government level, municipalities and agencies like the NPCA, then controlled by members of the Caslin cabal, did virtually nothing to address this crisis or any other environmental or natural heritage protection issue for that matter.

So yes, this June 28th pledge is a good start but it must be followed up by real, tangible, on-the-ground action.

Continuing to approve urban boundary expansion plans to accommodate more urban sprawl in what are left of our green spaces, and continuing to approve or entertain more plans like extending Merritt Road in the Pelham/Thorold area over wetlands, and continuing to approve urban development in precious places like Waverly Woods in Fort Erie and the Thundering Waters Forest (a haven for provincially significant wetlands) in the southwest end of Niagara Falls, makes a mockery of this climate action pledge.

Near record flooding in the Great Lakes left Lakeside Park in Port Dalhousie, Niagara swamped five years ago. Walls of sandbags were built to prevent destruction of property in the area. Photo by Doug Draper

This is why municipal elections at the regional and local level are so important. And it is why, starting now, citizens across Niagara need to be engaged in making sure that we elected people in this fall’s municipal elections that truly care about protecting our environment and turf out those who don’t.

We are in a crisis – our “house is on fire” as that heroic young climate activist Greta Thunberg  has warned – and we can no longer afford to have people who don’t take the protection of our environment seriously serving on our regional and local municipal councils.

Much more on this later.

  • Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

Now here is the news release on the Climate Summit from Niagara Region –

Today (this past June 28th), the Niagara Region, in partnership with representatives from the 12 local municipalities, academic institutions, non-profit organizations and the private sector made a commitment to actively do more to address climate change in Niagara.

From left to right – Diana Huson, Regional Councillor and NPCA Board Member; Lynn Wells, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor, Brock University; Jim Bradley, Regional Chair, Niagara Region. Photo courtesy of Niagara Region

After hearing from keynote speaker Karen Farbridge, and a number of expert discussion panels, summit attendees were invited to sign a call to action as a demonstration of their commitment to form partnerships, share critical data and accelerate action on climate change and green house gas emissions in Niagara. Over 100 individuals, representing dozens of local organizations, signed the pledge.

The pledge forms a foundational first step for Niagara’s municipalities, institutions and businesses as it is widely accepted that meaningful action on climate change will require all sectors of society working together. It is anticipated that today’s call to action will be a precursor to a formal emissions target that will be established in the future.

Summit attendees also participated in facilitated discussions for the majority of the afternoon. The feedback collected during these sessions will be utilized to develop a more cohesive climate change action plan for the Region.

The summit comes after a motion was passed last September by Regional Council to declare a climate change emergency and host a summit. The motion also allotted financial resources solely dedicated to addressing the impacts of changing climate, a first in the Niagara Region’s 52-year history.

Regional Council’s direction to take more action on climate change was partially informed by a 2020 report issued by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Insurance Bureau of Canada that estimated climate change will cost municipalities across the country $5.3 billion annually. That same report found that local government in Canada is responsible for, or could influence, 50 per cent of all green house gas emissions. These studies, and others, show that local communities are directly impacted by climate change, and have a responsibility to act.

From a fiscal perspective, summit attendees learned that over 80 million jobs world wide are at a risk from rising global temperatures, and could erase as much as 18 per cent of global GDP by 2050. At the same time, studies show that for every $1 spent on climate change action there will be a return of $6. 

The morning portion of the summit was live streamed and is available to be viewed on the Region’s YouTube channel or at the Niagara Climate Change Summit website.

The inaugural Climate Change Summit was hosted by Niagara Region, in partnership with Brock University and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.

Quotes

“It is within our power to undertake the activities that are needed to help slow the increase of global temperatures. The organizations, institutions and municipalities that were represented at today’s summit are not just innocent bystanders – we must all commit to work together to start making the changes and investments that are necessary before it is too late. It is important for all of us to recognize that today’s summit will be foundational to our future, and I want to thank everyone who made the commitment to attend. I am confident that the summit will result in stronger partnerships that will aid in our efforts to combat climate change.”
~ Jim Bradley, Regional Chair

“Evidence of the dramatic impact of climate change on our planet can be seen all around the world, from increased storm severity and flooding to droughts and wildfires becoming more common and intense. We in the Niagara region must do our part to take action to mitigate climate change and prepare for its impact on our community. Brock is proud to be working together with our partners across the region on this important initiative.”
~ Lynn Wells, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor, Brock University

“Climate change action is a critical priority for the NPCA. Our role in watershed-based flood forecasting and monitoring, water and climate science, and green infrastructure transcends municipal boundaries. Collaboration will be imperative to build resiliency and adaptation capacity across the watershed. We are pleased to partner on the Climate Summit to create a foundation for on-the-ground action.”
~ Chandra Sharma, CAO/Secretary-Treasurer, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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