OPINION: Climate change is a local issue

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By Nick Seebruch
OPINION: Climate change is a local issue
Planting a tree. Submitted photo.

A part of my philosophy as an Editor of a local community newspaper is that readers need news that they can use and that the best stories are the ones that you can demonstrate a local connection. This week the United Nations Climate Change conference (COP26) is taking place in Glasgow, Scotland but there are real ways that our local readers can become active in the issue of climate change.

While what is discussed and presented in Glasgow this week will have little to no impact on the daily lives of our readers here in Eastern Ontario, climate change is an issue that is being actively addressed in many different ways by our local governments and non-profit organizations.

Most recently, The Future Climate Leaders project, which operates in partnership with the City of Cornwall, and St. Lawrence River Institute is now conducting a survey of local residents to identify how climate change has impacted them, and what they would want their local municipality to do about it. If you want to have your voice heard on this issue, I suggest you fill out their survey online which can be found at: https://haveyoursaycornwall.ca/climate/survey_tools/climate-survey

Issues such as tree canopy cover and energy conservation are two ways that municipalities can help deal with the issue of climate change in their local area.

Another way that is being considered and was suggested in the Future Climate Leaders survey was the creation of a Climate Action Plan and an Extreme Weather Resiliency Plan.

While nations meet at COP26 to discuss how the world can react to climate change, it is municipalities who primarily have to deal with the effects.

We have seen in recent years right in our own backyards growing adversity that municipalities have faced because of climate change. Just north of us, Ottawa in recent years has had to deal with flooding and a tornado. It wasn’t too long ago that Cornwall too had to deal with chronic flooding issues. A chronic climate issue that the region is now facing is the annual low water levels of the St. Lawrence River.

The reality is, that municipalities can only do so much to reduce global carbon emissions, and while they still should try to do all that they can, they also should set money aside to help deal with the aftermath of extreme weather events caused by climate change.

You could really feel the effects of climate change these past two summers in Cornwall with extreme heat. The heat required the City of Cornwall for the past two years to setup cooling centres and deploy a fire truck to help keep the kids cool.

There are plenty of ways that individuals can get involved too and help their municipality deal with climate change.

Right now, the City of Cornwall is looking for students to join their Youth for Climate Action Working Group. The working group is accepting applications from students Grade 7 to 12 until Dec. 14. The group will help analyze how the City of Cornwall can respond to Climate Change and also develop strategies to get residents involved in the effort.

“It’s important to include youth when it comes to making decisions that directly impact their future. This working group will allow youth to voice their opinions and concerns when it comes to municipal climate change strategies,” said Angie Parker, the City of Cornwall’s Sustainable Projects Coordinator. “What youth wouldn’t want to have a say about their future? I want them to feel informed and empowered. Young people deserve this opportunity.”

Additionally, adults who might want to get involved should reach out to the St. Lawrence River Institute or to Transition Cornwall+, a local non-profit dedicated to sustainability and addressing climate change who also have a monthly column that appears in this paper.

COP26 is on the other side of the ocean, and the politicians who attend will say a lot of words that won’t have a big impact here at home, but municipalities and their residents can do something to be a part of the solution to this global problem.

What do you think readers? Email me your Letter to the Editor at nseebruch@seawaynews.media

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