The Climate Action Group, a project of Transition Salt Spring, is developing a citizen-led climate action plan to address the climate emergency. The plan, due to be released Spring 2020, will focus on the island’s transportation, food systems, land use, buildings and infrastructure and natural systems. This past August, they formed a steering committee to guide the climate action planning process.
Recommendations in the plan will outline what the three levels of government, businesses, organizations, and residents can do to reduce emissions as well as adapt to a rapidly destabilizing climate.
The impacts of climate change are being felt everywhere. For Salt Spring, the impacts are already being seen through more extreme and unpredictable weather patterns including wind and snowstorms, dangerous local fire conditions and smoky air from forest fires in neighbouring jurisdictions. The destabilizing climate is also having a profound impact on everything from the health of our cedars and aquatic life, to local food production.
“The climate action plan steering committee is rolling up its sleeves to update the 2011 plan,” says Darryl Martin, chair of the group and a retired engineer with a background in recycling and energy efficiency. “The will is there. Many Islanders see the threat and sincerely want to avert it. But most do not have the time to wade through the blizzard of options and information to find the best ways to take action. This group has taken on that task and will provide clear and practical recommendations for citizens, local governments, and other bodies."
“The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes very clear that we are on the precipice of drastic, irreversible climate change. By next year, we must decrease emissions, and for each of the next three decades, we must reduce our carbon footprints by 50% to ensure temperature increases do not breach that all important 2oC level, beyond which irreversible climate change takes hold,” says David Denning, science educator and special advisor to the group. “On Salt Spring, we can help meet those goals by electrifying how we move goods and people, consuming more organic food grown closer to home, and by reducing or eliminating how much we travel - especially by plane."
The climate action plan steering committee will be seeking public input on the plan from local organizations and the public, in person and online, beginning this fall. They will reach out soon to many organizations to integrate what climate actions are already underway in order to make the plan as robust and comprehensive as possible.
Funding for the climate action planning process has been received from the CRD and in-kind support from the Islands Trust. Early this spring, both the CRD and the Trust declared a climate emergency. CRD Director Gary Holman and Trustee Laura Patrick are ex-officio steering committee members.
There are 18 volunteer members of the group representing a wide range of disciplines. They will be using their expertise and the latest evidence to develop a plan with actionable recommendations to help Salt Spring Island do its part to reduce its emissions and adapt to a rapidly changing climate.
The completed plan will be presented to the Islands Trust and the CRD. A key objective for the group is to have both levels of municipal government implement key recommendations, and to ensure that the plan’s impacts are quantified.
“Salt Spring can be a leader,” says screenwriter and public engagement specialist, Tarah Stafford, a member of the group and mother of three. “What we need to do is develop a broadly-supported community plan and then act with the urgency that this crisis requires. We need a vision to protect our island treasures and ensure they are viable long into the future.”
“Islanders are looking for meaningful ways they can co-create a better future,” says Shannon Cowan, group facilitator and Salt Spring Watershed Protection Alliance coordinator. “There is a lot we can do right now. Salt Spring’s climate strike, and the federal election are opportunities to influence and support those in leadership roles to take wise, bold actions to address the climate crisis.”
“Salt Springers need to make climate change a priority in their lives and show other communities how they, too, can pull together to respond to the climate crisis. We want future generations to look back with awe and respect at the decisive steps we took to protect the viability of our environment and, indeed, our way of life,” says former Trustee Peter Lamb, co-founder of the group in 2010, and now advisor.
To sign up for information on how you can help shape our climate action plan go to: SaltSpringClimateActionPlan.com