Two youth-based climate groups are calling on local Kootenay governments for a Kootenay-wide transition to renewable energy sources by the year 2050.
David Thompson Secondary School Climate Change Club (DTSS Climate Change) and the Columbia Youth Environmental Action group (Columbi-YEA) have penned a letter to government leaders in the Columbia Valley, asking them to commit to powering homes, buildings, transportation and other infrastructure with 100 per cent renewable energy sources by 2050 “at the latest”.
“We recognize and applaud local government’s existing initiatives on climate change adaptation and mitigation, such as the RDEK’s heat pump subsidy, the DOI’s decision to hire an Environmental Planner, and more. However, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report made explicitly clear, an energy transition away from fossil fuels toward renewables is a vital action for securing a liveable planet,” reads the letter from the two groups.
The aforementioned report states that current emissions policies put the globe on track for up to 2.7 degrees of warming. That’s beyond the Paris Agreement target of two degrees, the point at which Earth will be warmer than any time in history.
The youth go on to write about the fact that 11 Kootenay governments have already made the commitment to transition to 100 per cent renewables by 2050.
“These governments include Castlegar, Kalso, Nelson, New Denver, the RDCK, Rossland, Silverton, Slocan, Warfield, Golden, and, most recently, the industry-heavy town of Trail. While making the transition will be a challenge, there is good news,” reads the letter.
The youth say that the “good news” comes in the form of technology, roadmaps set out by other communities, and climate advisory committees.
“The technology needed to make this transition already exists. While there will undoubtedly be initial costs associated with an energy transition of such scale, the provincial budget currently allocates $76 million for local government climate action projects. Higher costs are temporary, however, as renewable energies prove to be a more economic option in the long run,” the letter says.
“Secondly, there are roadmaps from other communities we can follow to help us achieve the transition. For example, the West Kootenay Renewable Energy Plan (2020) is a comprehensive document that identifies the essential actions local governments must take, from the perspective of policy, infrastructure, and outreach, to achieve a transition to 100 per cent renewables by 2050 at the latest. We understand that it may be challenging to gain citizen support for this initiative. However, groups such as the City of Vernon’s Climate Action Advisory Committee are valuable templates for how to make a just and democratic transition to renewables.”
The youth say that the goal is feasible, and the actions of individuals combined with the actions of government will make an impact.
“The collective transition would significantly lower emissions, and our region would also serve as an inspiration for other rural areas across the country. Furthermore, it’s the just thing to do. As young people, many of us are deeply worried about our future. We wouldn’t be writing this letter if we weren’t,” the letter says.
Youth have been staging school strikes for the climate, most specifically though the Fridays for Future movement, which is a youth-led and organized global stroke movement that started back in 2018.
Youth in the East and West Kootenay have taken part in Fridays for Future events, as well as hosted a myriad of other events to bring awareness to the climate crisis.
One such example is through a virtual climate action forum that was held over the winter, and a food and climate action workshop that took place in March.
“Youth like ourselves will experience the devastating effects of inaction, but to what extent remains an open question,” penned the youth. “We understand that this challenge seems daunting, but by taking responsibility for shifting away from the catastrophic trajectory we’re currently on, we can be part of a greater movement in the Kootenays to transition to 100 per cent renewables. Together, we can and will make a difference if, and only if, we act.”
With a file from The Canadian Press
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