Don’t forget climate change in pandemic, federal minister warns

“At the end of the day, the issue is carbon.”

The looming threat of climate change cannot be forgotten while the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s minister of environment and climate change said Sept. 24.

Jonathan Wilkinson said moving forward from the pandemic offers a chance to make changes in the way Canadians build, move and live.

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“2020 has been a very challenging year for all of us,” the North Vancouver MP told delegates to the Union of B.C. Municipalities virtual annual convention. “We are living in extraordinary times.”

Wilkinson said the next few weeks will be critical in managing pandemic spread. He urged people to take precautions to avoid virus transmission.

Part of moving forward post-pandemic includes investing in transit, housing and broadband infrastructure.

But, Wilkinson said, those investments also assist in fighting climate change as new technology and building or vehicle retrofits can help reduce climate-changing emissions.

He said increasing green spaces also assists.

Ottawa is also committed to surpassing its Paris 2030 emissions reduction goals, he said.

He said Ottawa has provided $2 billion to municipalities to be matched by provinces and territories for the next 6-8 months. $1 billion has been provided for transit.

But, he said, Canada cannot lose sight of the long-term need to move forward sustainably.

As part of that, Wilkinson said, Ottawa has set legally binding goals for net-zero emissions targets for 2050.

“At the end of the day, the issue is carbon,” he said.


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