Mayor Gregor Robertson gets real on climate change

12th and Cambie


Climate change is real.

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How real is it?

It’s so real that the hard working communications staff at the City of Vancouver gave up part of their Saturday to send out a press release about the evils of climate change.

So evil, in fact, that Mayor Gregor Robertson was quoted throughout the release, saying quotable stuff like this: “The impacts of climate change are real and must be accounted for.”

The purpose of the release was to update the public via us media types about what Robertson and his crew at city hall are doing to scuttle Kinder Morgan’s proposal to twin its existing oil pipeline. If the project goes ahead, more tankers will travel in and out of Burrard Inlet and Vancouver waters.

But Saturday’s release wasn’t so much targeted at Kinder Morgan as it was at the National Energy Board, or NEB, and its need to pay attention to climate change as it applies to insurance companies.

Say what?

Apparently, insurance companies have begun to factor climate change into their economic risk assessments, according to the release.

More from the mayor: “It makes no sense for the NEB to ignore the economic impacts of climate change, while insurance companies around the world are adjusting their business models because of it. Climate change has significant economic costs that cannot be swept aside when evaluating a pipeline project of this magnitude.”

The city also got Mark Jaccard, a professor at Simon Fraser University with a PhD in energy and economics, to weigh in on the environmental impacts of giving the Kinder Morgan proposal the green light.

Jaccard says the project would increase greenhouse gas emissions by 270 million tonnes over 35 years. Which isn’t exactly helpful in meeting the mayor’s goal of Vancouver being the greenest city in the world by 2020.

Earlier in the week, city council heard a presentation from deputy city manager Sadhu Johnston who argued Kinder Morgan’s proposal was flawed and downplays or ignores the risk to Vancouver’s economy and environment.

Johnston’s presentation came one week after the NEB rejected a request for oral public hearings and cross examination on Kinder Morgan’s proposal.

Now the mayor wants the city to set up a series of “public events” where residents can have their say about the project. He wants Kinder Morgan to participate, too.

Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr attempted to sway council last week to tie a referendum on the project to this November’s civic election.

That failed.

However, Vision Vancouver Coun. Andrea Reimer urged the feds to hold a vote after NEB completes the hearings. The mayor also worried a referendum tied to the election would have “no spending limits, no donation limits and no disclosure requirements for people or groups involved in it.”

Coincidentally, this November’s civic election will have no spending limits or donation limits. Though parties have to disclose contributors’ names and donations, I couldn’t get an answer before deadline on whether that applies only to the election year.

If that’s the case, parties wouldn’t have to disclose contributors’ names or the amount of money they accepted between the 2011 election and Dec. 13. 2013.

“With absolutely no financing rules to guide it, tying that in to the civic election is a dangerous proposition,” the mayor added.

To clarify, he was talking about a plebiscite — not an election campaign in which Vision Vancouver and the NPA spent more than $2 million each in the 2011 race.

No wonder independent candidates are calling for a political climate change.

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