Guest column from Jon Dziadyk, Edmonton City Councillor for Ward 3
Big cities across North America are boldly declaring an imminent “Climate Emergency.”
The New York Times reported in 1969 that, “We must realize that unless we are extremely lucky, everybody will disappear in a cloud of blue steam in 20 years.” The Boston Globe reported in 1970 that “Scientists predict a new ice age by the 21st Century .” In 2004 The Guardian reported that “Britain will be ‘Siberian’ in less than 20 years.”
Today, Greta Thunberg telling us that, “We are less than 12 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes.” The implied premise is that there is nothing else of importance we can do.
Governments near and far are declaring “Climate Emergencies” in response to these headlines. It’s clever because, typically, emergencies are not up for debate. The term is universally agreed upon. When there is an emergency, we all know to clear the way. Pull over. Do nothing that will hamper the response as lives are in danger. Most citizens know what a real emergency is. So, are we facing a Climate Emergency, or are we watering down the term?
It’s all environment, all the time. Too often we are just signalling our virtues via decree. Two years into my job as a city councillor, I now get it. The virtue signaling comes first, and then any subsequent action is justified. Even here in Edmonton, City Council declared a Climate Emergency. I voted against it while voting in favour of many common sense proposals to protect the environment.
Politicians say that Climate Emergency declarations force all decisions through an environmental lens. It ensures all our policies and decisions are made with the dire environmental consequences of our actions in mind. Then we hear that social, economic, and environmental concerns need to be balanced. Well the pot of resources has been tipped and the environmental pile is bursting at the seams.
Implementation of climate programs cost billions and that impacts the economy. That is not to discourage spending on the environment, but it’ll be our grandchildren that will be asked to repay these massive expenditures. Well-intended people need to realize the impact that spending today has on future generations.
Governments are increasing taxes and regulations with full consideration relating to the climate and very little consideration relating to how spending is impacting the economy. We have created a situation where we are uncompetitive with other jurisdictions. Now businesses are leaving our country, our province, and our great city.
But some politicians get it. Minister Madu wrote in the Edmonton Sun that, “This massive and unsustainable growth in city spending has led to a never-ending reliance on property-tax increases for Edmontonians and Calgarians — tax increases that often far exceed inflation and create undue burden for residents.” As a City Councillor, I also get it, and I have tried to raise the alarm.
We need a fight these non-stop spending and tax increasing habits. So in all of its potential glory, I asked Edmonton City Council to declare an Economic Emergency.
Just imagine if we viewed all of our decisions through an economic lens. It would ensure all our policies are made with the dire economic consequences of our actions in mind. Unfortunately, no other councillor agreed with the proposal. It was Dziadyk yes, versus 12 no. We then proceeded to greenlight new spending. There truly is an emergency and it is our economy clinging to life support.
An economic emergency could be the antidote to the tax and spend mentality and breathe some much needed balance and recalibration back into our governments. The battle has been lost in Edmonton, but I look to my elected counterparts elsewhere to have the economic emergency debates in their chambers. I’d second that. It could be a race to see which municipality really cares about the prosperity of future generations.
Jon Dziadyk is the Edmonton City Councillor for Ward 3
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