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Penetanguishene poised to declare a climate emergency

'I think the science pretty clearly shows us that we could see the disappearance of snow in the future,' warns councillor on why being proactive is vital
2019-09-27 Orillia climate strike 14
This demonstrator in Orillia was baking on climate change action while participating in a climate strike at Orillia City Hall in 2019. Nathan Taylor/OrilliaMatters File Photo

With Penetanguishene prepared to formalize a Climate Emergency Declaration at next month’s council meeting, some members of council were asked about the importance of climate change.

“What happens 10 years from now?” Coun. Jessica Klug mused. “I have two young children. Obviously, I want to protect this community and the entire planet for their sake as well as my own, but I’m doing things today.

“We’re done waiting. We can’t wait anymore.”

Putting pressure on greater greenhouse gas (GHG) emission creators within the gas, oil, and transportation sectors to take responsibility more than comparatively smaller GHG emitters such as Penetanguishene is one approach, according to Klug.

In 2015, the SSEA established the Sustainable Severn Sound climate change project.

Six municipalities in the region established baseline GHG emissions with goals set to develop local action plans aimed at reducing those amounts. By 2018, the town joined the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program, and in 2019 their GHG emissions had reduced by 17 per cent.

“The aspect of energy poverty is something we need to start exploring now before things get even worse,” Klug noted.

Long-standing member and Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau has been an official part of the municipality for over 30 years. She recalled the town’s fortune in entering into the PCP in 2015.

“We were in a great position,” said Dubeau, “because we were already considering the LED street lighting and we were already looking at upgrades to our sewage treatment plant. Putting in modern equipment into our treatment plant helped us achieve a great deal.”

Dubeau understood the challenge behind gaining awareness of the residents and educating them about the science of the matter.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change acknowledged that the world was currently on track for a greater than three-degree Celsius increase in temperature as of 2021, and estimated that there remained less than 10 years to avoid the worse results.

“As municipalities, we’ve got to continue to do the best we can, and continue to take the necessary measures,” Dubeau shared, believing that Penetanguishene boasts a progressive council up to the task.

Klug felt that climate change shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially for residents of the area who enjoy winter activities.

“I think the science pretty clearly shows us that we could see the disappearance of snow in the future,” cautioned Klug, “which means no more snowmobiling, no more skiing, no more Winterama – the long-running winter carnival.”

A PDF for Penetanguishene’s local climate change action plan can be located on the community improvement and sustainability page of the town’s website.


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Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Derek Howard covers Midland and Penetanguishene area civic issues under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada.
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