A northern natural resource-based Canadian city contributes to climate change solutions on a global scale
While taking action to reduce their own impact on the planet, Fort St. John has had the opportunity to raise awareness about the Amazon forest at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. With a large resource base of oil, natural gas, agriculture and forestry, Fort St. John is known as British Columbia’s oil and gas capital but many would be surprised to know that this city of 18,000 people represented Canada at the Amazon Summit and contributed to the creation of The Letter of Manaus, a package that will be presented at the UN Climate Change Conference being held from December 7 to 18.
The Amazon Summit, held in October, brought together the nine countries who share the Amazon forest as well as participating countries from around the world who were asked to present their experiences on land development, buildings, water conservation, energy efficiency and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Horacio Galanti, director of planning and engineering for the City of Fort St. John, represented Canada and spoke at the Amazon Summit about the accomplishments of his city as well as those of BC and throughout Canada. He also contributed to the drafting of The Letter of Manaus.
“The summit involved people from around the world but everyone was on the same page and we worked very well together,” said Galanti. “I’m extremely proud to have had the opportunity to represent Fort St. John and Canada at this forum which could have an incredible legacy.”
The summit resulted in the creation of a permanent forum for the governments of these countries to work together on climate change related issues. The Letter of Manaus was created to recommend the inclusion of the Amazon forest in any new climate charter that results from the United Nations Climate Change Conference, as it is not represented in the current Kyoto Protocol that will expire in 2012.
Fort St. John was invited to participate in the Amazon Summit by a delegate from Brazil who attended the ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability World Congress in Edmonton in June. ICLEI (the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives) is an international association of governments that have made a commitment to sustainable development, including more than 1100 cities, towns and countries worldwide. Galanti’s experience in Fort St. John was a natural fit for the summit, his ability to communicate fluently in Portuguese, sealed the deal.
Galanti and Fort St. John city manager, Dianne Hunter, have discovered there is a lot of interest in the action they have taken to manage their city’s carbon footprint.
“It’s been very rewarding to have opportunities to share what we’ve learned and to demonstrate that we can take climate action even in a remote, northern city that is a major oil and gas hub,” said Hunter. “This is a young and vibrant city, we have a lot we want to accomplish.”
Compared to other parts of BC that have made their mark in greenhouse gas management and green building, Fort St. John faces unique challenges with a cold climate, northern location, a high number of jobs in the oil and gas and forestry sectors and a lifestyle that often includes rugged outdoor pursuits and larger recreational vehicles.
“Many of our accomplishments are not new ideas but we have created a strategy that makes sense for Fort St. John and that will allow us to continue to grow and develop, making the most of the resources we have,” said Hunter.
An example of Fort St. John’s commitment to conservation is the recent installation of water meters throughout the city.
“Water meters are commonly used in larger cities but it is quite uncommon in cities of similar size and location to Fort St. John,” said Galanti. “We are already seeing incredible results, having saved 500 million litres of water in the first 8 months of this year.”
Fort St. John’s strategies for reducing its impact:
1. Educating, incentives and regulations to encourage individuals, businesses and the city to reduce their impact on the environment.
2. Short and long term sustainability planning
3. Environmental leadership
4. City Energy and Emissions Plan
Media Contact: The Tartan Group 250-592-3838