North

Whitehorse city councillor wants to declare a climate change emergency

One Whitehorse city councillor is proposing a motion that would declare a climate change state of emergency. The motion would also require the city to measure the carbon footprint of any new capital projects starting in 2020.

Motion would require city to publish a carbon budget for new capital projects

Students rally outside Whitehorse City Hall earlier this month to protest climate change. Whitehorse Coun. Steve Roddick wants the city to declare a climate emergency. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

Whitehorse could be the next Yukon community to declare a climate change state of emergency.

Coun. Steve Roddick put forward a motion at Whitehorse city council Monday night that would declare a climate emergency in the Yukon capital.

"[It's] just recognizing that we have an urgent and severe situation on our hands in terms of our impacts of climate change and what we're feeling across the North," Roddick said. 

Last month, the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation declared a climate emergency in Old Crow. Last week, students in Whitehorse marched against climate change outside city hall. Roddick said he was inspired by that activism.

The motion would establish a climate change adaptation task force and try to find ways to speed up existing climate change projects.

It would also require the city, starting in 2020, to publish a "carbon budget" that would list the emissions generated by new capital projects.

Whitehorse has 'solid foundation'

Roddick said it's important for cities to take action quickly, because they're home to the populations and infrastructure most at risk from climate change. He said Whitehorse has a "solid foundation" of policies to combat climate change, but needs to do even more.

"We're not starting at zero," he said. "We have a number of excellent plans and strategies that identify a wide range of actions that we can undertake to accelerate how we're dealing with climate change and how we're addressing the impacts that we're experiencing here in our city."

The motion doesn't name any particular programs. Roddick said that's to get input from city staff and other councillors.

"I think the reason that I didn't identify any specific issues is that it would be essentially become a laundry list," he said.

Councillors will debate the motion June 17 during a standing committee meeting. It's scheduled to go before city council for a vote June 24.

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