PETER CURRIER – Peterborough is adorned by forest, blessed by water, comfortable in the summer and invigorating in winter. We are still a green city in a green district despite the ominous damage of recent windstorms. Flooding has happened but subsequently has been well planned for. Tourists flock to our region because we are naturally privileged. Perhaps the greatest climate-related immediate danger that we Peterbourians face now is a Fort McMurray-style fire.
Given the quality of life in the Kawarthas one would expect that governance at every level, but especially locally, would act to nurture and cherish the elements of such natural good fortune.
In 2019 the previous city council declared a climate emergency. But by several recent accounts, our current governors are being ecologically shortsighted. Too often Peterborough City Council is opting for cheap and easy short term solutions that, in the long run, will cost our municipality at multiple levels.
In mid-January several activist members of For Our Grandchildren stood on the front steps of City Hall to present a climate action “report card” on how Council is faring in efforts to address climate chaos.
In the judgement of 4RG, Council is making some progress but is far too slow in implementing meaningful measures to limit carbon emissions.
The report card singles out the lack of a “climate lens” in assessing the actions required to meet emissions targets. In effect, given the scope of the threat posed by factors that may make the planet uninhabitable, Council members would be well advised to keep the repercussions for climate top of mind with every decision they make.
Alternatives to diesel for public transit might be more expensive now, but transitioning is a responsible step in the right direction. Similarly, electric vehicles for city services and transit would substantially benefit the local environment. That climate-conservation mindset – the concern for the future — should, according to 4RG activists, underpin every decision that Council makes: zoning plans, building construction, resourcing public facilities, construction and servicing infrastructure – all should be based on the implications for, and impact on, planetary health. Further, emission limitation targets are being missed. City planning that favours cars and carbon based energy sources continues. And more could be done to facilitate public awareness of climate concerns and what we as individuals can do.
The following detailed analysis of how Peterborough’s Current City Council fared between November 15, 2022 and December 31, 2023 in dealing with climate chaos was done on behalf of 4RG by Mark Bullock. Below, the Greenzine provides both the press release and the report card.