In the current PriceTalks episode with Christine Boyle, we reference ‘Clouds of Change’ – the 1990 report and recommendations from what was maybe the first task force to address climate change at the municipal level.

Here it is:


As the councillor who initiated the process, I continue to be impressed by its prescience.  It helped change the way City Hall thought about the related issues of greenhouse gases, energy, transportation and land use.  It led to good things – like sustainability pioneering at the Olympic Village; it reinforced a lot of good things – cycling, energy conservation, recycling.

And while its targets for greenhouse-gas reductions were ambitious (and not achieved), it underestimated what can happen when there is global determination – like the targets for ozone-depleting-gas reduction (which were achieved.)

So conscious were we of the danger to the ozone layer that a related response was prioritized as recommendation #5.

Today it might only be a side note.

Ozone depletion was an emergency which we could and did respond to.  Can we do the same with climate change?  Are we able or willing to respond to an environmental emergency with the resources, power and catastrophe-oriented leadership that itself might be problematic?  When survival is at stake, after all, emergencies are good times for autocrats.

In the podcast, I push Christine on the real meaning of ‘climate emergency’ – and whether she’s the kind of leader that we need.


  1. A seminal report in so many ways. Recommendation 16 on Land Use essentially calls for, among other things, what could be called “urban villages”, with a healthy mix of housing, shops and services and, notably, jobs. Not a bad starting concept for, um, a citywide plan!

  2. I just downloaded the report. Gord, do I owe you $11 bucks? Or is that $18.85 in today’s $’s?

    Actually referenced this report when I developed a transportation emissions model at the GVRD in the mid 90’s. At that time I noticed the shift in interest from “local” common air contaminants to GHGs, as the issue of smog and acid rain were reducing thanks to more efficient and effective vehicular emission controls (remember good ol’ AirCare). While we modelled all of the contaminants, I was increasingly asked to plot out maps on CO2e. Now my modelling is primarily on GHGs and sometimes particulate matter. I recall the validation tool used to estimate particulate matter rates (correlated to traffic volumes) was a Hoover. Thankfully we have much better sensors these days.

    1. Again, i’m not an expert on the subject other than using the resulting emissions factors for transport (mobile) emissions modelling (i.e. using it in regional transportation demand models (Emme) or localized microsim models). But I found the use of the Hoover a legitimate methodology:

      I believe the actual model looked a bit more dated than this version:

      In the case of the GVRD I’m not sure if the roads were actually vacuumed manually or the parts used to suck in the particulate matter as a vehicle drove by the road (as vacuum cleaners apparently have higher shear if directly apply to the road surface, so the “vibrating head” in most units were probably removed)

      Scientists are sometimes a mixture of desperation and old-school innovation…

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