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LETTER: Let's make sound, science-based decisions when it comes to discussing climate emergency declarations

'Hold the line. Listen to the experts and make sound evidence based decisions that protect the interests of Guelph residents' says letter writer on possible climate emergency declaration by the city

GuelphToday received the following letter from Patrick Sheridan, who while recognizing the importance of climate action, wants it based on science and thoughtful planning, not emotional rhetoric and theatrics.

Even for Guelph municipal politics, the past two months have been a deviation from the “norm."

With a succession of theatrical climate-themed events including a climate “Die in” at city hall, a “spontaneous” student climate extinction walk-out, a rather misrepresented climate emergency town hall, a flurry of alarmist op-eds in local papers attempting to brush aside expert testimony to council on our energy management plans, and finally, the recent partisan debates on a climate emergency on Parliament Hill. It’s been quite the show to behold.

All this as preamble to Monday nights city council meeting where councilors James Gordon and Leanne Piper will bring forward a motion seeking to declare a climate emergency in Guelph. Many in the community will hear this declaration in the same way that residents of Halifax hear the noon day gun. A startling experience for the uninitiated that over time becomes a routine part of the everyday and eventually fades into the background noise of life. But please pay attention to this high noon because its aftermath could have serious implications for the finances and the intellectual credibility of this city.

The spectacle that has unfolded leading up to Monday has been discouraging on several fronts but in no way more than witnessing local activists hollow out our political discourse to reach a new low consistently using children and youth as pawns in order to trigger a dramatic response. 

Seeing local political leaders weaponizing the good nature, naiveté and angst of young people is simply disgusting but perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising as far left progressive movements around the world are becoming more authoritarian. Concerned less about effective environmental policy and more about fear mongering to gain power.

Also troubling was councillor Phil Allt’s op-ed in The Mercury Tribune on April 1, that may have appeared to be an April fool’s joke but no, he equated the need for more insulation installed in your home to shipping our young men and women off to fight the Nazis. This, from an elected official is unacceptable rhetoric. Further, councillor James Gordon’s piece in The Mercury Tribune on April 22 was nothing less than a veiled slap in the face to the Our Energy Guelph task force, who spent 18 months analyzing Guelph’s energy opportunities and mapping it’s energy future. In this op-ed Gordon stated, “Do we need a disaster before we take Action on Climate Change?” Clearly no. Please read the OEG report.

Climate change is a recognized risk. YES! And as a municipality, we need to use the best information possible to make appropriate decisions to protect residents from undue risk. That is the mandate of city hall and city council. The Our Energy Guelph Net Zero 2050 vision that was passed by city council in May 2018 achieves this.....and then some.

So my appeal to city council is hold the line. Listen to the experts and make sound evidence based decisions that protect the interests of Guelph residents. If councilor Gordon and Piper’s motions pass we trade a sound framework backed by the reputation of 21 local professionals for the whim of political one-upmanship.