Kyoto pullout creates frustration, call to action

Mayor, others vow to continue efforts to green up Oak Bay

The equivalent of rush hour through Oak Bay Village doesn’t produce big-city levels of greenhouse gases

Canada’s participation in the Kyoto accord may be over, but Oak Bay’s continued quest for a greener community isn’t slowing down.

Reaction to the announcement that the federal government has withdrawn from the international agreement has been widespread, much of it negative.

“I was very disappointed,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen. “I think it’s going to cast Canada in an environmental light which will be unflattering.”

But the active promoter of green initiatives says it only increases the need for action by lower levels of government. “We can certainly do our own work at the local level to model what, I think, a proper attitude towards greenhouse gases ought to be,” he said.

Jensen said he hopes to see the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and Federation of Canadian Municipalities put pressure on federal leaders to take meaningful action on climate change.

Members of the Oak Bay Green Committee, which promotes climate change awareness and has lobbied Oak Bay council for an anti-idling bylaw, are equally frustrated at the latest developments.

“It will be expensive to change this, but is that a good reason to do nothing?” committee member David Godfrey wrote in an email to the News.

“It might be cheaper to live by stealing from your neighbours or children, but is that the way most Canadian citizens want to live or present their country? This is a cowardly action by a government desperate to avoid the real issue.”

Oak Bay Coun. Kevin Murdoch was recently appointed by Jensen to head up the municipality’s environment and regulatory section, which will address environmental issues in all aspects of development within the community.

Rather than focus on the negatives of the Kyoto withdrawal, Murdoch is optimistic that Canada’s pledge to participate in a new international agreement will bear fruit.

“You’ve got to be somewhat hopeful that maybe (the federal government) will change their tack a bit and actually put their money where their mouth is, and that may have a trickle down effect to us,” he said.

“But there’s no way of knowing at this point.”

The news only steels Jensen’s resolve to push green initiatives forward at the local level.

“I’ve always been a follower of the Brundtland Report motto, to ‘think globally and act locally,’ and we’re going to continue to do that,” he said.

“This will motivate us to redouble our efforts, as a leader in the reduction of greenhouse gases.”

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