Calgary city council declares a climate emergency
After nearly two hours of debate Monday night, city council overwhelmingly agreed to declare a climate emergency.
The 13-2 vote comes two years after Edmonton made its own emergency declaration, and it was one of Mayor Jyoti Gondek’s first moves after being elected last month.
In addition to the emergency declaration, the motion calls the City of Calgary environmental plan to be updated to aim for net-zero emissions by 2050.
Gondek said the move is about aligning the city government with the position Calgary oil and gas companies are already taking.
“It is a matter of making sure that we understand the reality of the table stakes that are declaring a climate emergency, so we can actually attract capital and talent here,” she said.
Coun. Sean Chu and Coun. Dan McLean, the two votes in opposition, said they were concerned about council sending a negative message to Alberta’s oil and gas industry.
But she could only get a handful of council colleagues on her side, with others saying they feared changing that language could water down its intent. Numerous cities around the world have declared a climate emergency, and city officials said if Calgary didn’t use the same language, it wouldn’t be on that same level.
Ahead of the council discussion, energy company representatives and business leaders met with city council members, and Gondek said it represents how the municipal government is forging a new relationship with the energy sector.
“There are so many accomplishments in the energy transition that we just haven’t been talking about. The narrative has to get out there that our city and our energy sector is doing good work — they have set some very, very high targets for bringing emissions under control.”