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An oil-stained Canadian flag flies near Queens Park in Toronto on July 5, 2015. (Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

'A Hopeful Day': Ottawa Endorses Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty

One climate campaigner said the Canadian city "is taking responsibility for moving beyond fossil fuels and prioritizing the protection of people and planet."

Jessica Corbett

Climate campaigners around the world celebrated after Ottawa on Wednesday became the 12th Canadian municipality to formally endorse the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Canadian capital joins more than 50 local governments, 1,300 groups, and 150,000 individuals—from youth to grandparents to scientists—who support the initiative, which calls for ending all new fossil fuel exploration and production; phasing out existing production in line with the Paris agreement's 1.5°C goal; and "a peaceful and just transition."

"Today is a hopeful day," declared Marianne Ariganello, an organizer with For Our Kids Ottawa/Gatineau. "Ottawa parents advocated strongly to their elected officials to endorse this treaty and our councilors listened and acted."

"Having Ottawa agree to endorse the treaty and to push the Ontario government to accept this treaty," she said, "is something we can happily share with our children as a success—advocacy works, it influences systemic change and action, our children do not need to feel they are fighting this climate battle alone, adults are standing up and taking action."

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson will now send a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford urging the national and provincial governments to follow suit, according to the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative.

Tzeporah Berman, the initiative's chair and international program director at the group, said that "by endorsing the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, the city of Ottawa is taking responsibility for moving beyond fossil fuels and prioritizing the protection of people and planet."

"The shift away from fossil fuels is accelerating, but not fast enough yet," Berman continued. "Emissions from oil and gas production are Canada's largest and fastest-growing source of emissions, and the primary reason we cannot meet our Paris commitments."

"We need countries, not least our own federal government, to align policies with climate science and fulfill the mandate of being a true climate leader by urging a just transition that sees a stop to the expansion of the fossil fuel industry and a phase-out of existing projects," she added.

The treaty endorsement in Ottawa comes after the city and National Capital Commission commissioned a study of how the worsening climate emergency will impact the region. The 2020 analysis warned of earlier springs, hotter summers, later autumns, shorter winters with less snow and fewer cold days, and a warmer and wetter climate.

"By signing the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, Ottawa will join dozens of cities around the world making the commitment to move away from fossil fuel extraction and towards a just transition," said Ottawa Councilor Catherine McKenney, who introduced the motion, which was approved by the city council after winning support from a key committee last month.

McKenney—a 2022 mayoral candidate—asserted that the endorsement "sends a strong message that our city is serious about climate action and we remain committed to reducing" Ottawa's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

"Cities across the world are already feeling the effects of climate change, with Ottawa experiencing more frequent and significant flooding, hotter summers, and increased major storm events," they noted. "Now is the time to reaffirm our commitment to move away from GHGs and transition to renewable energy."

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