Experts and advocates say there is plenty that Calgary can do to lessen future impacts of climate change, and many places within Canada the city could look to for inspiration. PHOTO: DEAN CORDERO

Since 2019, a climate emergency has been declared in nearly 500 jurisdictions across Canada. Calgary is the only city among the top five most populated cities in the country that hasn’t made this declaration. 

Advocates and policy experts argue that action on climate is beneficial for the future of communities and cities in Canada. Is it time for Calgary to take a serious look at declaring a climate emergency?

Calgary has enacted two Climate Resilience Strategies since 2018, but has yet to join cities like Edmonton and Vancouver in formally declaring a climate emergency. Such a declaration can be regarded as one of the first steps to signaling a more serious approach to adapting to climate change, but given Calgary’s previous commitments to solving the issue, some say it may not be necessary for the city.

The first meeting of the City of Calgary Climate Panel was held in November 2018, and it has since met three to four times annually. The panel is meant to “provide strategic advice and support to facilitate the implementation of actions from the Climate Resilience Strategy,” according to the city’s website. 

The panel is made up of community members who advise city council on climate-related issues. Groups that are represented include Alberta Health Services, companies like Siemens and ATCO, and organizations such as the Calgary Climate Hub and Alberta Ecotrust.

The issue of declaring a climate emergency has been brought up among members of the climate panel before. The panel notes in its October 2019 meeting minutes that “in most cases, during climate emergencies cities move to update their climate plans to limit warming to 1.5°C.”

Ultimately, the panel collectively stated that it did not have an official position on declaring a climate emergency in Calgary. Yet, polling indicates support for action on climate change. 

In the Climate Resilience Strategy report update in 2019, Calgarians demonstrated concern about climate change. Survey responses show that 77 per cent think that the city needs to act now, while 72 per cent think Calgary should be doing more to prevent climate change.

Calgary’s Climate Emergency is a multimedia project about what Calgary can do to work against climate change, what it has already done, how it compares to other Canadian jurisdictions and the stake that Canada holds in fighting this global crisis.

Check out the Calgary’s Climate Emergency site to learn more and take a look at the project in its entirety.