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Letter to the Editor: Whistler needs to move more aggressively to lower its emissions

'I don’t know who is advocating for such slow action here in Whistler, but clearly more of us need to write to our mayor and council and let them know that we want a skiable future'
housing agreements by BD
A Whistler Housing Authority project currently underway in Cheakamus Crossing.

I have just received an email from a climate change researcher at the University of British Columbia.

He noted a very simple statement: For Whistler to retain its winter skiing, the world must achieve the Paris climate agreement target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Analysis by four different groups assessing the climate outcomes of COP26 shows that the world’s current policies lead to a best-estimate warming of around 2.7 C.

To all the people of Whistler, I believe that many of you are working very hard on things that will help reduce our impact on the environment and I appreciate your efforts to date. But I think it is time to accept that we all need to work a thousand times harder going forward, especially given the recent wildfires that have ravaged B.C. and now the widespread catastrophic flooding and landslides that have cut Vancouver and the Sea to Sky off completely from the rest of Canada.

My assessment is: if Whistler was the whole world, we are nowhere near hitting the Paris agreement ourselves, which at this point requires carbon neutrality within 10 years. And if we can’t hit the Paris agreement ourselves, why would we expect the world to do so?

The RMOW has just announced its planned step-code increase, which will allow Step 3 houses to be built for at least another two years. A Step 3 house has about half the insulation it should have to be an energy-efficient home with a reduced impact on our environment. Perhaps you can relate to this by asking yourself: Would you go out skiing with half the clothes on that you need to keep warm?

The BC Building Code of 2018 gives the municipality the power to implement Step 5 at any time. A Step 5 house, also known as a net zero house, requires less energy than solar panels on the roof would generate. They are also quite comfortable in our cold climate; no more cold mornings.

I don’t know who is advocating for such slow action here in Whistler, but clearly more of us need to write to our mayor and council and let them know that we want a skiable future! Both West Vancouver and North Vancouver municipalities have already implemented Step 5, so I question why we are dragging our heels on this, especially given we are a tourism-based ski destination.

Did you know over half the emissions in our town are caused by the burning of “natural gas” and the methane that is released when it is extracted from the ground, at the fracking wellhead, and its subsequent processing and transportation?

Do you know what your home heating system is? If you have a natural gas fireplace or furnace in your house, then your house is being heated by burning fossil fuel. There is nothing “natural” about the methane gas you burn in your house. Interesting how they called it “natural” gas to lull us into a false sense of security. It should be called “fossil gas.”

Edgar Dearden // Whistler