On June 6 of last year, the temperature exceeded 50C in at least four countries. The 2021 Pacific Northwest heat wave was ‘the most anomalous extreme heat event ever observed on earth since records began two centuries ago.’ The temperature hit 49C last June in Lytton, B.C., while Seattle and Portland reached 42.2C and 46.7C respectively.
These alarming statistics were included in Tina Willard-Stepan’s May 31 presentation to the CVRD board on the topic of Climate Optimism — a climate crisis term used to refer to an increased rate of change in the climate caused by human impacts.
“The science is clear,” said Willard-Stepan, a facilitator and environmental educator. “Since 1900, there’s been a 43 per cent increase in this warming effect.”
The main source of global warming pollution is the burning of fossil fuels. She noted that 93 per cent of extra heat trapped by pollution goes into the ocean.
“It’s disrupting the water cycle, and the warmer ocean temperatures have been hitting records almost every year,” Willard-Stepan said.
Extra heat is also melting glaciers.
“We do know that our glacier is receding,” she said, noting the Comox Glacier is predicted to be gone in about 20 years.
A Corporate Energy and Emissions Plan has set a target to reduce corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 50 per cent below 2019 corporate emissions levels by 2030, and achieving net zero corporate emissions status by 2050.
Area A director Daniel Arbour would like to set higher targets, which he said could save money in the long-term. He proposed 70 per cent by 2030, rather than 50 per cent, but his motion was defeated in a 7-3 vote.
Courtenay director Will Cole-Hamilton forwarded a motion to address the need to include methane leakage from the local landfill within the district’s emissions plan. His resolution passed 6-4. Cole-Hamilton notes that our landfill gas emissions are more than 15 times greater than all other CVRD emissions combined.
“In my view, a meaningful climate action plan must take them into account.” Cole-Hamilton said.