Following is the speech given by delegate Carrie Tai, from Neighbours for the Planet at the Feb 12, 2020 Richmond Hill Council Meeting to the agenda item 13.8 SRPRS.20.011 - Richmond Hill Climate Change Actions.
Mayor, Councillors and fellow residents;
My name is Carrie Tai. I am an engineer and have been a resident of RH for 17 years.
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to speak today about the very urgent issue of climate change.
I have read the staff report on Richmond Hill’s Climate Change Actions and want to commend the city of Richmond Hill for all the great work they are doing and continue to do. From the report it is evident that we all agree that climate change is an urgent issue so I am not going to talk about the impacts we are seeing world-wide and even in our own backyards.
I stood in front of you, 8 months ago, in support of the motion to declare a climate emergency brought forward by Councillor David West.
At that time, you may remember, my neighbours and I had just formed a climate group “Neighbours for the Planet” hoping to generate more public awareness in our community about the climate crisis. Our goal is to empower individuals to reduce carbon emissions in their individual lives, in their community and Canada-wide.
As you are aware, we are not the only climate group in our community. There is also Blue Dot RIchmond Hill, Drawdown Richmond Hill, Targeting Climate Change, and our newest group, Extinction Rebellion Richmond Hill. We work closely together, with different approaches to tackle this issue. Different approaches but all are needed to reach everyone.
I would like to briefly summarize what has transpired since we were here 8 months ago:
In July last year, we held the first climate rally in RH. 50 people attended.
Two months later in Sept, we held another Climate rally. 250 attended! People wanted to join us. They were concerned about the climate crisis and wanted to do something, but didn’t know what they could do. At that point, I realized that climate strikes were not enough.
So, in October, we started holding bi-monthly meetings.
We are currently working on 3 initiatives –transportation, changing eating habits and food waste as they are some of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions.
A lot of people with great knowledge and expertise are devoting their free time because they are worried about the future we are leaving the next generations.
Students are also engaged!
My 15 year old daughter has started a Climate Action Committee at her school. 10 students came to her first meeting! They want their voices heard and to take their power back and change their future.
I am also hosting a community Student Climate Action group. Some students had expressed interest in our meetings. I thought they could benefit by coming together to collaborate and support each other. Students from 5 different schools will be attending our first student get together this week. This will be student led and I will simply be providing a space for them to meet and of course some snacks!
I am impressed by the energy, spirit and leadership in our community. The residents of Richmond Hill are concerned and stepping up to do what they can do to act on climate. But there is only so much they can do.
What I have learnt these last 8 months is that individual change is important; community engagement is even more important as it will lead to bigger change; but we will never get the reductions in carbon emissions that are needed without systematic change.
We need change from all levels of government so I am asking you, our elected officials to see the climate crisis for what it is and add urgency to the great work you are already doing. The UN IPCC report says we need to decrease our emissions by 45% from the 2005 levels by 2030; and get to net zero by 2050.
I ask you, are we doing enough and quickly enough to meet these targets?