Members of the Parents 4 Climate group walked from Uptown shopping centre to the Greater Victoria School Board head office on Boleskine Road to support Monday night’s climate emergency motion.
The Parents 4 Climate group emerged earlier this year in support of the youth climate strikes happening in front of the legislature. They’ve also supported SD61 board chair Jordan Watters’ advance motion that the district develop a Climate Action Plan. That motion came before the district’s Operations Policy and Planning committee on Monday and will next come before the school board for final approval at the June 24 meeting.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently found limiting global warming to 1.5 C is still possible if there is a 45 per cent reduction of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050.
SD61 is believed to be the first school district in the province to adopt a climate emergency recognition and in doing so, will join the Capital Regional District, Victoria, View Royal, Esquimalt, Saanich, Sidney, Highlands, Oak Bay, Sooke and Colwood.
“Kids are hungry for adults to show leadership around this,” Watters said. “It can’t just be lip service, it has to be action. We are truly called to act. It’s an emergency and the youth know that.”
Watters’ comment is also a claim that the Climate Action Plan needs to “have teeth” to ensure it is effective.
“We’re asking for an action plan, with targets, so that there can be some accountability built in.”
Once approved, SD61’s facilities department would be directed to create a plan with targets and strategies to see the line of greenhouse gas emissions decline, Watters said. SD61’s facilities department already files a carbon neutrality report with the province. This would take it one step further, though Watters’ can’t speculate on exactly what types of changes could be implemented. As an organization most of SD61’s emissions are from buildings and transportation.
Examples of similar efforts made in this area are Saanich’s installation of low-emission boilers at Saanich Commonwealth Place, reducing its carbon footprint by 90 per cent. The district could also develop an expedited plan to electrify its fleet of vehicles and buses.
However, it’s more than just physical options, Watters said.
“Any action is better than no action,” Watters said. “We already are taking steps towards this but not communicating it out, need to add to the conversation. The climate crisis has a communications problem.
“We need climate literacy. For how significant its impact is, [humans] don’t fully understand the climate crisis.”
SD61 already has champions, Watters pointed out, with teachers at every school engaging students about climate action.
“I would hope the plan amplifies these ways of sharing climate literacy, Watters said. “I hope it will have strategies big and small.”