Islands Trust Council declares climate change emergency

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, March 20 2019

The Islands Trust Council is declaring a climate change emergency in the Islands Trust Area.

Trustee Scott Colbourne of Gabriola, and Trustee Deb Morrison, Trustee of North Pender, made the request to Council to have the declaration made.

The goal being that Trust Council assert the Islands Trust’s long-term commitment to climate change mitigation, adaptation awareness, and a science-based, justice-rooted approach to the climate change emergency. According to their report, Council’s support of this would make it easier to request resources and supports from other governmental and non-governmental organizations to pursue an absolute reduction in emissions in the lands and waters of the Trust Area and Trust facilities year by year, with carbon dioxide emissions being the most important, as they are the source of most of the warming and all of the ocean acidification.

At Trust Council last week, Morrison said she has worked on [climate change] for 30 years, and just recently she has seen everyone else ramp up their anxiety.

“We are definitely at the point where we’re going to have serious repercussions if we don’t take action.”

Questioned on the part of the motion which looked to prioritize for those most vulnerable, Morrison said there are different kinds of “most vulnerable.”

There is the physically vulnerable - those who live at the shoreline of the rising seas; or it can be most vulnerable in terms of financial ability to transition to greener options.

Colbourne said part of the Islands Trust document was translated from other jurisdictions, in particular the City of Vancouver.

Trustee David Critchley from Denman said he believed prioritization should be on what actions have the most impact.

Morrison said that “the most vulnerable are the ones who find it hardest to make these initiatives work. This is hard to think about in the general sense. It can’t just be the rich who are the ones who can adapt. We can’t leave behind the people in our communities who don’t have the resources to move with us.”

The motion calls for Council to:

1. Declare a climate change emergency in the Islands Trust Area;

2. Add climate change mitigation, resilience and adaptation policies to the Islands Trust Policy Statement amendment project;

3. Direct the Trust Council Chair to write to the Chairs of regional districts in the Islands Trust Area asserting Trust Council’s full support for declarations of a climate emergency;

4. Direct the Trust Council Chair to write to the Provincial Minister of the Environment, asserting the Islands Trust Council’s support to help the Province close the 25 per cent emissions gap in the CleanBC Plan, and calling on the Province to provide the powers and resources to local governments;

5. Direct the Trust Council Chair to write to the Federal Minister of the Environment, asserting the Islands Trust Council’s support to help Canada meet its “Nationally Determined Contribution” target made in the Paris Agreement and call on the Federal Government to provide the powers and resources to local governments;

6. Direct staff to report back to the June 2019 Trust Council meeting on measures and land use planning actions that the Islands Trust can take to advance progress toward Local Trust Committee (LTC) climate reduction targets and achieve further reductions in carbon from Trust operations;

7. Direct staff to include a central focus on equitable climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience into strategic planning to provide guidance and support for the Trust Area’s efforts to transition away from fossil fuels in ways that prioritize those most vulnerable to climate impacts and most in need of support in transitioning to renewable energy;

8. Trust Council directs staff to work with First Nations and First Nations government agencies to seek support for the climate change emergency and to engage to coordinate climate action strategies with First Nations within the Islands Trust Area.

According to staff, the scope of the recommendations would require action across the breadth of the organization, corporate carbon neutrality and advocacy at the Trust Council level, and the implementation of appropriate land use policy through LTCs. It is expected that all work directed by Trust Council would be through the strategic planning process in order to be vetted and fully costed.

If substantial work in support of these recommendations is requested by Trust Council for June 2019, there may be a need to defer items on the current work plan.