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Maple Ridge’s climate action task force starting to work

Cities will play an important role says energy policy expert
Bradford Griffin (Special to The News)

Cities have a role to play in fighting global warming, and Maple Ridge’s new Mayor’s Task Force on Climate Action can make a difference, according to one high profile member of the group.

One of the task force’s members is Bradford Griffin, the executive director of SFU’s Canadian Energy and Emissions Data Centre (CEEDC), and the Energy and Materials Research Group (EMRG). His background has been with senior government policy. Previously, he worked as a consultant in France from 2011 to 2015, conducting long-term energy-economy policy analyses for the European Commission, national governments, and large utilities.

Griffin said most of the work to reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change in Canada will come from federal and provincial government initiatives.

“Cities have the ability to amplify those efforts, or get in the way,” he said.

Buildings and vehicles are major sources of greenhouse gases, and a city hall can help residents reduce in these areas – whether by ensuring there are adequate charging stations for electric vehicles, or encouraging developers to build more efficiently.

At SFU, he looks at long-term climate policy analysis – the effects of new initiatives over several decades. Even though the scientific community has been certain about climate change for a long time, weather-related catastrophes – including this 2023 wildfire season in Canada, the fires in Maui, or the hurricanes in Florida – convince the general public of the need for changes.

“These are the visible signs (of climate change) that we’re starting to see,” said Griffin. “I hope it’s giving us more social licence to put new policies in.”

He said everything society can do now to reduce carbon emissions will be helpful in the future. What’s more, Canadians should take a leadership role, even if our direct reduction in emissions are small compared with the emissions of the worlds largest polluters.

“We could become an exporter of decarbonization technologies,” he said.

The Maple Ridge task force has so far had just one meeting, with another scheduled for Sept. 11. Griffin said he will bring experience in climate and energy policy, and the leadership for the group will come from the mayor and councillors.

“Maple Ridge is being quite proactive, in trying to move this ahead as fast as possible.”

Coun. Sunny Schiller is an elected official on the task force, and said it’s the major reason she got involved in local politics. This is her passion, and she is impressed with the group that has been assembled and its qualifications.

“To get those people in a room together was exciting for me personally,” said Schiller.

She said the group will identify projects and initiatives that the city can roll out quickly, and that will have impact.

With senior governments moving to reduce carbon emissions, and with recent weather events illustrating the impacts of climate change, she sees impetus for change.

“There’s a greater understanding of why we need to take action,” said Schiller. “We have the political will, and we have the resources. It’s a moment when we really can make some changes.”

She said the city is hiring a new climate action coordinator.

“Councils come and go, but staff can keep the work moving forward,” said Schiller.

She agrees that the city has an important part to play.

“It’s at the city level these things are either accelerated, or not moved forward.”

READ ALSO: B.C.’s agriculture industry at forefront of climate change reality

The members of council on the task force are, of course, Mayor Dan Ruimy, with councillors Schiller and Jenny Tan.

Other members include:

• Kirk Grayson, president of the Maple Ridge Climate Hub.

• Dr. Alison Shaw, executive director of the Action on Climate Team at SFU.

• Alexandra Tudose, manager energy and environmental sustainability at School District 42.

• Simone Mikolay, youth member and recent environmental engineering graduate from UBC.

READ ALSO: Canadian ministers vow to accelerate action at global environment conference

Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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