Edmundston first city in N.B. to declare climate emergency

Downed power poles and ice covered signs are shown in Escuminac, N.B., on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. Thousands of people in New Brunswick lost power for days after a winter storm blasted through the region. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Diane Doiron

Edmundston has become the first municipality in New Brunswick to declare a climate emergency, CBC News reports.

The northern New Brunswick city joins Halifax, Vancouver and several communities in Quebec in adopting a declaration to fight climate change.

Mayor Cyrille Simard says the move is not merely a symbolic gesture, but a serious call to action.

We see the impact on the ground, we see the cost of [climate change],” Simard told CBC, citing torrential rains, flooding that’s worse and more frequent, and invasive species.

The mayor said the declaration will be reflected in the city’s policies, long-term planning and purchases.

“We can adapt to it so much, but it’s getting to a critical stage right now.”

Earlier this month, school children in Quispamsis asked their town council to adopt a climate emergency declaration.

“It’s going to be our world, and if we don’t make change now, it’s going to be too late by the time we’re in charge,” student Leah Doucet told Global News.

The students made a 10-minute presentation to council where they referenced climate change impacts in the community, such as record flooding in spring 2018.

Council told the students they don’t sign declarations as a matter of policy but invited them to work with the town’s climate change committee.

“We’re very open to the idea of discussing this with them and giving them the right arguments to actually step up and sign and align with us,” the student’s principal, Anik Duplessis, told Global.

Halifax signed its declaration on Jan. 29 following a unanimous vote at council.

Councillor Richard Zurawski brought the motion forward, saying it was in response to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s October 2018 report that warned world leaders have 12 years to limit a global climate change catastrophe.

Vancouver city council’s climate declaration was also passed unanimously, in mid January.

“[It] speaks to the urgency that people recognize the climate crisis and that people need to be stepping up,” councillor Christine Boyle told Global News.