Vancouver City Council has declared there is a “global state of climate emergency“.  Staff are to return in 90 days with updated plans to reflect a growing sense that time is running out, and that missing climate change mitigation targets is a practice that has to end.

OneCity’s Councilor Christine Boyle has brought forward a motion asking that council “. . . recognize the breakdown of the stable climate and sea level under which human civilization developed constitutes an emergency for the City of Vancouver”.  It was approved unanimously.

I’m a leader, because climate change is a big deal for my future.

Personal Changes

Meanwhile, ideas float around as to what personal changes may be required for us all to participate in mitigation.  What — me change?  [Thanks to Charlie Smith in the Straight].

  • Switch to a plant-based diet.  Reduce meat consumption.
  • Have fewer children.
  • Rein in the rich, who are 10% of humanity, but are responsible for 50% of global emissions.

Personal changes — always a hard sell to the cohort of comfortable and oblivious, not to mention the wealthy.  After all, what’s in it for me, right now, today?  But maybe, just maybe, the sense of urgency is beginning to rise above the acrid smoke of public discourse. And there’s a growing number of the young who get it big-time.  After all, it’s all about the world that they’ll have to live in.

Bigger Changes

While these ideas are a good beginning, there are others, a lot more risky for any traditional public figure to champion, but necessary for major and lasting impact. They’re also inevitable, and their adoption will be the litmus test for our chances of survival as a species.

  • Leave the fossil fuels in the ground.  Meanwhile, what do we hear?  <GASP>, what about Alberta, pipelines, LNG plants, oil tankers?? Let’s focus on the past, and what got us here in the first place!!  And rip and ship as fast as we can, before the party is over. Oh yeah, and “war on the car”.
  • Accelerate the transition to a society based on electrical energy.  It’s highly doable, and clean energy sources are getting much cheaper. There’s a huge industrial opportunity in designing and manufacturing the bits, pieces and controls to put this in place and manage it. But — ya know — I think we’ve missed that train, and we’ll be buying it all from someone else.  Hello, China. Sorry about that Huawei stuff.  A provocative overview thread HERE (“Oil Fall”, Gregor Macdonald) discusses “Electricity is the new oil”.  The full document is available HERE as a $9 PDF for that in-depth study you’re dying to read.
  • Increase investment in transit.  Tie it to land-use and city-making around compact and walkable ‘hoods. Sorry, Nimbys, but your time-honoured stance (No Poor Allowed) may not survive.  It was really good while it lasted.


  1. Ideas:

    1) reducing/eliminating curb side parking 2) density without parking spots or curbside parking 3) increase the yearly parking fee, currently a highly subsidized 50 dollars a year 4) road pricing or charge a congestion fee on all vehicles not just lift and uber 5) tax on meat 6) use all those revenues for subsidized housing and public transit

    Dare to dream….

    1. What he dares to dream, please.

      And also a big ‘Climate Change Mitigation Tax’ on all flights through YVR. Revenue from this pumped into Metro transit and new passenger rail infrastructure projects in conjunction with other provinces (and facilitating easy access to huge Amtrak system).

    2. Yes some of these ideas make sense, for example $3000/yr for a parking pass in the west end, or $250/month. Where the subway / SkyTrain/Skytran proposal for W-Van to N-Van to downtown ? Where’s Uber & Lyft ?

      Bridge tolls and/or congestion charges too make a lot of sense, too. But: Didn’t the NDP (plus Greens) majority kill – as one of their very first acts – the quite sensible PM bridge toll AND kill Uber to appease to Surrey swing riding ?

  2. Socialism at its finest. An emergency, huh ?

    Why not demand the immediate shutdown of all ports as ALL boats today use diesel or bunker fuel, the YVR airport and all car & public bus system ?

    As a good faith first step the conversion of polluting and noisy diesel buses to e-buses within the TransLink fleet would be a good example of REAL ACTION, coupled with a far hike of say 50% to $3.30/ride/zone and a reduction is TransLink salaries. Sustainability is action, a good example to lead !

    The REAL emergency is out of control public sector wages & benefits such as DB pensions and associated public sector debt. City of Vancover has over 1300 folks making over $100,000/yr .. what are they all doing ?

    Where are the studies comparing their salaries & benefits to comparable private sector jobs ?

  3. Top Ten Vancouver Mitigation Actions
    1-Stop the destruction of the Viaducts and the building of new roads in FCN.
    2-Stop the construction of a new hospital on a tidal flood plane: build it on higher ground.
    3-To protect False Creek, start land acquisition for a sea barrier and ships lock across English Bay.
    4-Lobby for a Tesla Factory.
    5-Eliminate bad ideas like demolishing and replacing good housing stock with expensive duplexes.
    6-Stop demolition as a development strategy, shift focus to retain, restore, reuse, convert and add to.
    7-Develop infrastructure independence with new off-grid, self contained housing systems.
    8-Establish a think tank. Creative intelligence is the only thing that distinguishes humans from all other known life forms; use it to protect the biosphere.
    9-Require that Planners and Architects complete studies in atmospheric science and oceanography.
    10-more thinking, thinking, thinking……………………………….

    1. Can a Tesla factory be competitive with Mexico or cheaper US or even Canadian locations where both labour AND land prices are far FAR lower ?

      Oceans’ rise is widely exaggerated .. a few inches to maybe 5 ft in a 100 years !!

      Summary “.. then the appropriate range of sea level rise scenarios to consider for 2100 is 0.2–1.6 m. Values exceeding 2 feet are increasingly weakly justified. Values exceeding 1.6 m require a cascade of extremely unlikely to impossible events, the joint likelihood of which is arguably impossible. ..”

      Not allowing new development, like San Francisco did, will NOT increase affordability, quite the opposite ..

      1. ” .. Further, these values of sea level rise are contingent on the climate models predicting the correct amount of temperature increase. There are numerous reasons to think that the climate models are predicting too much warming for the 21st century, and hence the more extreme values of sea level rise (above 1 m) are arguably too high. ..”

        Woohoo .. 100 cm .. in 100 years .. Hardly an “emergency” !!

        1. Thomas, maybe you haven’t noticed the sand-bagging of Spanish Bank in recent winters. If we have to take action on sea-level rise when we didn’t just a few years ago we should be pretty concerned about how fast it’s happening. In millennia past such occurrences happened over thousands of years – not decades.

          You love to cherry pick the outliers. What’s wrong with the robust science that the vast majority of climate scientists finds ample evidence for? Would you rely the advice of the 98th doctor who finally said you don’t have cancer?

          What’s in it for you?

      2. I am surprised you didn’t quote from her paper where she claimed it was all a hoax. It is too bad, she was once a respected scientist. No longer.

  4. Markets often work. Some like the Calgary School of Economics/Milton Friedman acolytes sees climate change as Coasian. i.e. it should be optional/government should have no role.

    Many companies already use carbon prices in their calculations for internal rates of return and/or hurdle rates when making investment decisions. Check their investor materials.

    Property rights/measure who/what emits/assignment, check. Alternatives competing against each other, check. Negotiation isn’t costly, e.g. there’s good information, check. Hold out problem, yes an issue. Free-rider problem, yes an issue (do you see Doug McCallum doing this…). Use the market.

    The City should use a $140 carbon price (from NYT article below) for all internal business cases/planning, etc., budgets.
    Measure it. Make it a line item and have the discussion. As this is monetary, proceeds can go into a fund earmarked for climate change capital costs, etc. The fund stays internal to the City and comes from the city. It is a funding method, not just an accounting exercise.

    E.g. 1 Huh that makes sense and we can save O&M costs,

    E.g. 2 No way that’s happening, but there’s no alternative yet. Who can we talk to about a future alternative, so this department is not contributing to that fund?

    Quote: “…the United Nations report estimated that governments would need to impose effective carbon prices of $135 to $5,500 per ton of carbon dioxide pollution by 2030 to keep overall global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. …”

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