To The Editor,

As part of the group asking our municipal councils for a Prescott-Russell climate action plan, I am replying to a reader who asked (1) if a climate action plan would duplicate municipal programs already in place (e.g. PR Transpo), and (2) if there is sufficient demand for a plan to warrant the expense of making a plan.

A climate action plan does not duplicate existing programs; it is a roadmap towards emissions reduction that includes existing programs with a view to their environmental impact. It would include a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Prescott-Russell, for example, 40 less than an inventoried baseline amount by 2030. It would also include the most effective and feasible programs and policies to achieve that target, which might include existing programs like PR Transpo as well as new programs.

A climate action plan is a strategy to achieve overall emissions reduction. Depending on the needs and ambition of the community, it could touch just a few areas of local life or many, among them, transportation, buildings, public health care, land use, recreation, water and waste management.

As for the cost of making a climate action plan for Prescott-Russell – the cost of not planning is missed opportunities and the risk of inaction. Given the weather and economic challenges of climate change, inaction will cost more than the actions we can take.

As well, everything we do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has local co-benefits: better air quality and public health, energy cost savings, more energy and food security, more jobs and employment opportunities, and improved wildlife habitat. Many municipalities embark on climate action with the goal of long-term cost savings and to benefit from federal/provincial funding programs that support municipal initiatives for green innovation and sustainability.

Coordination between local municipalities is important. Working at the level of the United Counties will allow for a single coordinated public consultation process and achieve economies of scale. Finally, the Partners for Climate Protection program offers the assurance of a well-trodden path, with protocols, lessons learned from other municipalities, and a lively network.

We can do more, better, if municipalities work together.

Lynn Ovenden
Volunteer, UCPR Coalition for Climate Action