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Canadian cities lead the way in the fight against climate change

Though cash-starved and hard-hit by COVID and climate change, cities are punching well above their weight for solutions

In the midst of discord south of the border and ongoing pandemic problems it’s important to take a moment to celebrate good news when it happens. And in mid-December, Montréal Mayor Valérie Plante delivered an early Christmas present to her city and the planet: arguably the most comprehensive plan to fight climate change of any Canadian city to date.

In a speech to the United Nations in late 2019, Plante pointed out that cities are on the front lines of climate change, having to deal regularly with negative impacts like flooding and heatwaves. "The [United Nations] Secretary-General has set a target for states to reduce their emissions by 2030 and commit to being completely carbon neutral by 2050," said Plante. "I'm ready to go further."

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The unstoppable support behind the green transition

Recognition that a massive transition is needed now is spreading like wildfire. The feds should take note.

You would need a pretty big tent to hold all those who back a green transition in Canada today.

In fact, environmentalists might find themselves crowded into one small corner as mining and cement companies, labour unions, farmers, school teachers, doctors and nurses, and engineers join in to extoll the virtues of a shift to a low-carbon economy. This astonishing depth and breadth of support for a public policy is unusual, and the federal government should take note as it considers what measures to announce, in September’s throne speech, to build the post-COVID economic recovery.

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As EU and Biden commit billions for green recovery, where is Canada?

Modest Canadian incrementalism simply isn’t going to cut it. We need to be bold. And green.

Trying to find a silver lining in the current COVID crisis is not easy, but there is a growing realization around the world that the place to look is in the transition to a greener economy.

The European Union is well out in front on this issue, recently unveiling a €1 trillion ($1.57 trillion Canadian) plan to reach carbon neutrality, create more sustainable and resilient communities and create a “circular economy” with less waste of both resources and energy. Half of this spending is expected to come directly from the EU budget; the the rest will come from member state contributions, financing from the European Investment Bank and investments by the private sector. EU President Ursula von der Leyen has described the plan to slash carbon emissions by more than 50% by 2030 and to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 as Europe’s “man on the moon moment.” Except that instead of a quest for geopolitical bragging rights, this moonshot is about planetary survival right here at home.

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