Burnaby city council unanimously declared a climate emergency and committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.
The vote was met with loud applause in council chambers at a Monday meeting.
City staff will now work on a plan to reach the city’s new ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions below 2007 levels by 45 per cent by 2030, 75 per cent by 2040 and full carbon neutrality by 2050.
Before Monday, the city’s reduction target for 2030 was only five per cent.
Coun. Colleen Jordan, chair of the environment and social planning committee, said reaching the targets is doable but “it’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be cheap.”
Jake Hubley, an organizer with Force of Nature Alliance, which pushed for the declaration, said the city could reach the targets by improving walking and cycling infrastructure, investing in public transit and making buildings more energy-efficient.
Several members of council credited young climate activists for pushing the issue to the forefront. Coun. Sav Dhaliwal said the younger generation had “moved us old fogeys,” and Coun. Pietro Calendino said: “I want to thank all the millennials for saving humanity.”
Mayor Mike Hurley said Monday’s declaration was a win for the young people in the audience who push for climate action. He urged them to stay politically involved.
“I want you to take this a step further,” he said. “Everything else that affects your life, please get into it with the same passion. We rely on you to hold this world back from the brink of where we are right now. So please, to see your success, get involved, make a difference.”
According to Force of Nature, Burnaby is the eighth Lower Mainland municipality to make a climate emergency declaration.