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.
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.