Saanich council will look at joining a global alliance of more than 10,000 municipalities around the world taking a stand against climate change.
On May 11, council will review a joint request from Mayor Fred Haynes and Coun. Susan Brice to have Saanich sign on to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.
Haynes and Brice explain in a report to council that the Global Covenant of Mayors – launched at the United Nations Climate Summit in 2014 – is a coalition of more than 10,000 local governments from around the world committed to reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, taking action against climate change and publicly reporting their climate action.
Joining the Global Covenant of Mayors would let Saanich “add our voice to the global conversation” and celebrate the District’s long history of climate action, Haynes said.
He added that while it is within the mayor’s right to join the alliance without first discussing with council, he felt it was best to have councillors weigh in as “a mayor speaks more powerfully with the will of council behind them.”
Saanich has a long history of taking climate action and that council is always looking for the “greenest option,” Brice said. She added that joining the Global Covenant of Mayors would allow the District to report it’s work on a global scale.
Haynes acknowledged that council had to put accelerated climate actions on hold when a status quo budget was adopted to reduce the annual property tax increase due to the ongoing pandemic. However, he emphasized that Saanich’s current action – including tree planting, reducing GHG emissions, reducing urban sprawl and working on the One Planet Saanich model – will continue.
“As we come out of COVID-19, I hope we turn our attention to mitigating climate change,” Haynes said. “It’s incumbent on us all to reduce our planetary footprint.”
Haynes acknowledged that climate action can be a privilege and that not everyone can make dramatic changes but said even little things like turning off lights in empty rooms and growing food can make a difference as “it all adds up to something big.”
Both Haynes and Brice are optimistic council will agree to join the Global Covenant of Mayors.
Should council agree, Saanich would join other Canadian municipalities including North Vancouver, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria.
Haynes added that if Saanich council agrees, he would like to send letters to other mayors throughout the province who have yet to sign on asking them to join the Global Covenant of Mayors.