Vancouver's draft budget for 2020 shows the costs of doing nothing about climate change are beginning to add up

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      A core argument of fossil-fuel proponents is that we simply cannot afford to stop the onset of climate change. That the damage to the economy would simply be too great if governments took the steps required and began phasing out sources of harmful pollution like cars that run on gasoline and cities powered by coal.

      But climate change is going to cost every taxpayer more and more regardless of whether we keep the oil wells pumping.

      Yesterday (November 25), for example, the City of Vancouver published its draft budget for 2020 and there’s $6.8 million in there that residents are going to pay next year to “accelerate action on climate change”.

      That’s a 16.2 percent increase over $42 million that Vancouver already spends annually on programs and infrastructure related to climate change. In addition, the city puts $51 million toward capital investments related to the environment each year.

      New initiatives the city is considering for the proposed $6.8 million addition include an analysis of new options that might accelerate transitions to active transportation and public transit and developing a “Climate Change Emergency Policy,” among others. The report also mentions improving emergency efficiency, advancing renewable-energy programs, and planting more trees.

      It emphasizes that climate-change spending is something the electorate has said it wants the city to consider a priority.

      “Accelerating action on climate change was either the top or second priority among half of young people (under 29 years old) across all activities,” the report reads. It placed third overall among residents and fourth overall among businesses.

      The city’s draft budget for 2020 also notes that costs for some existing city services have increased in-part because of “climate change and unusual-weather events”.

      The proposed budget is expected to go to council for a vote before the end of 2019. A public hearing is scheduled for December 3.

      In related news, today (November 26) the United Nations Environment Program shared a new report about climate change that bluntly states humans are not doing nearly enough to prevent a global environmental catastrophe.

      “We are sleepwalking toward a climate catastrophe and need to wake up and take urgent action,” Alden Meyer, director of policy and strategy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told reporters according to the New York Times.

      Reacting to the report, UN Secretary General António Guterres stressed that policymakers need to understand and follow what the science tells us.

      “For 10 years, the Emissions Gap Report has been sounding the alarm — and for 10 years, the world has only increased its emissions,” he said in a statement. “There has never been a more important time to listen to the science. Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly and catastrophic heat waves, storms and pollution.”