By David Clements/Special to Langley Advance Times
The year 2020 will be always be remembered as the year the COVID-19 pandemic erupted and disrupted our way of life.
Hopefully, 2021 will be marked by better news.
In terms of the pandemic things are already looking up, thanks to vaccines and heroic efforts by many.
Another piece of good news is that Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, the Township of Langley council approved a strategic plan with a built-in 30-year legacy.
Just as we are hoping to bring cases of COVID-19 to zero in the very near future, in just 30 years the Township’s climate action plan will bring the Township’s carbon emissions to zero.
I conduct scientific research on the downstream effects of the world’s burgeoning carbon footprint, specifically how it threatens to reduce tree health and increase the invasiveness of invasive weeds.
Even if Langley succeeds in reaching zero emissions by 2050 (as well as the short-term goal of 45-per-cent reduction by 2030), in itself this achievement will have only a tiny effect on the problems I study.
However, just as each of us are told by medical officials to “do our part” to fight the virus, the fact that Langley Township has stepped up to the plate sends a signal way out into the outfield.
Langley was only the second local municipality after Vancouver to approve a climate action plan, and this leadership step will probably attract many other players to get into the game.
Ultimately, once places all around the world develop similar plans, the global reduction in carbon emissions will hit a home run against the invasive weeds taking advantage of climate change and many other costly issues.
However, the benefits of the Jan. 25 decision go far beyond carbon.
When you aim to reduce carbon emissions, you end up with cleaner air and water, and more livable communities where people can get places on foot or by bicycle or public transit, and where many of the places they are going are parks green with vegetation pulling carbon out of the air.
There is a short-term cost calculated roughly at $130 per Township of Langley household per year during the next 10 years.
However, as we are learning so much about these days, short-term sacrifices can pay great dividends down the road, especially if we can eventually take our collective foot off the gas.
2050 here we come!
– David Clements PhD, is a professor of biology and environmental studies at Trinity Western University
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