Since the election of Mayor Don Iveson in 2013, Edmonton has launched one of Canada’s most ambitious climate programs. The City plans to double its population by achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and, as far as we know, is the first municipality in North America to incorporate a carbon budget into its official plan, setting a limit on how often the public can contribute.
Edmonton also took steps to promote global climate change. In 2018, Iveson held a conference with mayors from around the world that led to the Edmonton Declaration, calling for mayors to take urgent action to reduce global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Thousands of towns and authorities, including Indigenous groups, signed up.
“It is recognized that we are part of an international body of local government that has been leading the charge for decades,” Iveson said.
Earlier this year, the SSG had the opportunity to sit down with Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and discuss his legacy of climate change (Iveson stepped down after local government elections on October 18). We spoke to him about what motivates him to take action, why Edmonton is launching a carbon budget, and how the City is building public support for climate change.
“Public consultation is the most important thing in this regard,” he told us, noting that the City has invited young people to speak at meetings about climate change and to help reduce divisions. Their presence “makes it difficult for decision-makers to play political divisions in front of children who will suffer as a result,” explains Iveson.
The City also established a well-informed local citizen advisory committee that provided City and Council advice on their climate change plan, in addition to compiling a Citizens’ Team comprising of a diverse group of representatives of Edmontonians. The Council discussed how the City should respond to energy and climate challenges, and also issued recommendations to the City.
Most skeptics of science came to support climate change, noting the economic and health benefits of climate change, such as stable electricity prices and clean air, Iveson explained. “We must have anti-polarizers.”
See the full interview above.