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New year’s greetings from the Victoria Chapter – please get involved in 2017

Paul Rasmussen & Tom Hackney
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017 is the Victoria Chapter’s thirteenth year, and we expect it to be exciting. Things have come a long way since 2005, when many people thought sustainable energy was just a quaint curiosity.

Now people and all levels of government are talking about climate action and renewable energy and taking it seriously.

In 2015, the federal government signed the Paris Agreement, committing to help limit the increase of harmful global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, or even less than 1.5 degrees. In 2016, the prime minister convened the provincial and territorial leaders to develop a national climate action plan in which a renewable energy transition will play a key role.

Also in 2016, the provincial government published its Climate Leadership Plan. Although it has insufficient measures to achieve BC’s share of carbon reductions, it does recognize the need to switch from fossil fuels to renewable electricity.

At the municipal level, cities and towns all over the world are taking responsibility for climate action in the form of 100% Renewable Energy targets – meaning the whole community, not just municipal operations.

The Victoria Chapter encouraged the City of Victoria to adopt this target, and in August, it did. Meanwhile, the Victoria Chapter analyzed a Pathway to 100% RE for the District of Saanich and presented it to the public last October – and the response was very enthusiastic.

So what will 2017 be like?

The provincial general election on 9 May will be a great opportunity for British Columbians to speak loudly at the ballot box.

As we did for the 2015 federal election, the Chapter will work to ensure that would-be representatives feel obliged to address renewable energy, green jobs and climate action knowledgeably in order to get elected. What will it take for renewable energy and climate action to become election issues Number One and Number Two? We don’t know, but we mean to find out.

The Chapter will host at least one all-candidates debate – perhaps more – on the Island, depending on how many volunteers we get and how we think we can achieve the greatest impact. We will also work with the other BCSEA chapters to raise sustainable energy issues across BC.

Stay tuned for more news on candidates debates in your riding – and let us know if you want to help!

We expect 100% Renewable Energy commitments to be important for Greater Victoria municipalities in 2017, and we expect to play a role, perhaps to encourage more municipalities to adopt this goal, perhaps to engage the public.

The City of Victoria will be developing a plan to fulfill its 100% RE commitment. The city can use help to explain this to the people of Victoria and to build support. Possible roles for the Chapter include media and convening town hall meetings or discussion groups.

The District of Saanich has so far made no formal commitment to a 100% Renewable Energy target, but we hope to meet with Saanich Council early this year to present the findings of our 100% RE Pathway analysis and to persuade the Council to adopt a 100% RE target.

We also look forward to meeting with as many as possible of the Victoria Chapter’s members and hope to attract many new ones. Watch for more pub night events, with informative presentations on energy issues and convivial company.

Finally, as the new co-chairs of the Victoria Chapter, we – Paul Rasmussen and Tom Hackney – give our thanks to Marion Pape, who is stepping down as chair, though staying on the steering committee. During her tenure, Marion brought a powerful energy to the Chapter’s activities, setting us up for success. We are well positioned going into 2017. With our dynamic steering committee and support from our members, we expect we can make a big difference.