Region of Durham declares climate emergency

Regional council has voted to declare a climate emergency.

According to a media release, the declaration recognizes environmental sustainability and climate change as strategic priorities for the Region and a factor in the decisions of council.

“When it comes to addressing climate change, Durham Region continues to step up to the challenge,” said Regional Chair John Henry.

“We have made strides within our own operations. And, we are working with our community partners to create new climate action programs that will help to reduce emissions in our region.”

The media release states that residents and businesses in Durham are already experiencing flooding, high heat days, the spread of vector-borne diseases, and other known impacts of climate change. Projections show these impacts are expected to become more intense and severe over time.

“That’s why the Region is taking bold steps to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency: Durham Region Transit is purchasing its first eight zero emission battery electric buses; the fleet’s first 11 hybrid electric are planned for service in 2021; and 50 bus shelters were retrofitted with solar light installations in 2019 (an additional 50 shelters are planned for 2020),” it reads.

“Plus, a new energy retrofit program – in partnership with local area municipalities, utilities, and post-secondary institutions – will help Durham homeowners lower their energy use and emissions. Additional planned initiatives include energy efficiency upgrades to the Region’s social housing portfolio, and other operations.”

Through the declaration, which was brought forward through the Durham Region Roundtable on Climate Change, Durham Region joins the Government of Canada and more than 400 Canadian municipalities to have declared climate emergencies. Most of these organizations are implementing programs to help reduce their contribution to global carbon emissions.

“We know that we can have the most impact working in partnership with all levels of government and the private sector to unlock capital for local climate investment,” said Ian McVey, the Region’s manager of sustainability.

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