Sunday, April 22, 2018

Celebrating Earth Day: Calgary Climate Symposium and five climate-smart actions

At The City of Calgary, Earth Day is an opportunity to show our commitment to environmental protection. Addressing climate change is one way that we are demonstrating that commitment by investing in cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, expanding public transit, capitalizing on renewable energy, retrofitting streetlights to LED, managing our waste as a resource, supporting innovative community design and much more. Today, we are sharing some of the highlights from our recent Climate Symposium and we’ve compiled a top-five list of climate smart actions citizens can take to celebrate Earth Day with us.

Last month The City of Calgary hosted the Calgary Climate Symposium, bringing together community leaders, entrepreneurs, prominent climate experts and City of Calgary staff for a series of unique networking and learning opportunities.

This was the first symposium of its kind The City has hosted and all five public events sold out. With so much interest and many requests to hear what was talked about, a playlist of videos is now available on the program website at calgary.ca/climateprogram with all of the presentations as well as feature interviews with many of the speakers.

The symposium aimed to open up a Calgary-specific conversation about how a changing climate will impact our city, and explore opportunities for innovation and economic growth.

“Climate change acts as a risk multiplier,” says Tom Sampson, Chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, referring to large-scale events he has responded to such as the 2013 Southern Alberta flood and the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires.

“Alberta has become the hotbed of severe weather events,” Bill Adams, Vice President, Western Region, Insurance Bureau of Canada, explains with a bar chart showing seven of the top 10 weather-related insured loss events in Canada have been in Alberta. “Understand that you are vulnerable, understand what your specific risks are at your home and at your business, and then take steps to address those risks.”

And while a changing climate poses risks and vulnerabilities for Calgarians, there are also opportunities.

“Climate change should be seen as a huge opportunity rather than a threat,” says Andy Gouldson, Professor of Environmental Policy and Dean of Interdisciplinary Research, University of Leeds. “All of our work shows really clearly that addressing climate change can create jobs, improve public health, lead to better, more vibrant cities and enhance the quality of life.”

Gouldson is part of a team at the University of Leeds who recently published the Economics of Low Carbon Development Report for Calgary, evaluating and prioritizing a list of actions in the residential, commercial, transport, industrial and waste sectors that will provide the largest impact on the local economy and global climate. This study will inform the Climate Program’s upcoming Climate Resilience Plan to be presented to Council in June 2018.

Presenters from the symposium also outlined simple steps citizens can take today to be climate smart. These are outlined in their video interviews, and we’ve compiled the top five:
  1. Install an energy efficient furnace and/or windows – Guy Huntingford, BILD Calgary 
  2. Use the My Energy IQ tool to understand your energy usage – Jeff Hilton, ENMAX 
  3. Use alternative transportation options (bike, walk, public transit) – Caroline Saunders, British Consul General 
  4. Be active in your community: participate in community gardens, car share programs and more – Anika Terton, International Institute for Sustainable Development 
  5. Be aware of your risks and prepare a 72-hour emergency preparedness kit – Tom Sampson, Calgary Emergency Management Agency

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