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Richmond Centre candidates weigh in on climate change

Even at 1.5 degrees, heavy rains and flooding are projected to become more intense and frequent, including in many regions of North America, according to the recent IPCC report.
Richmond Centre candidates 2021 Miao Wong Gillanders Nixon
Richmond Centre candidates (clockwise from top left): Wilson Miao (Liberal), Alice Wong (Conservative), Sandra Nixon (NDP) and Laura Gillanders (Green).

With sea levels expected to rise in Richmond by up to a metre by 2100, four Richmond Centre candidates have weighed in on the issue of climate change.

The Richmond News queried, via email, the Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Green candidates in that riding about the climate issues facing Richmond — such as sea level rise and possible flooding — in light of the major U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released last month.

“We’re pretty well locked in, in the Metro Vancouver area, to at least a half a metre of sea level rise by the end of the century — so over the next 80 years or so — (or) maybe a metre,” Simon Fraser University professor emeritus John Clague told the News following the release of the report.

In addition, Richmond faces the threat of Fraser River flooding, said Clague, which is linked to sea level rise because the lower portion of the river will rise along with sea levels.

The IPCC report also projected that even if emissions are drastically cut, the world is expected to hit global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the 2030s.

Furthermore, even at 1.5 degrees, heavy rains and flooding are projected to become more intense and frequent, including in many regions of North America.

Green Party candidate Laura Gillanders said that Richmond is more affected by the climate crisis than other municipalities.

“Being an island on a floodplain, our very existence is dependent on managing sea level and Fraser River rise,” she said.

“Also, as almost 40 per cent of the land in Richmond is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, farmers and food security are threatened by increasingly heavy rainfall in the winter and droughts in the summer. ”

She said the Greens have set “bold” climate targets to ensure Canada meets net-zero requirements by 2050, and have a plan to cut emissions by 60 per cent by 2030.

Meanwhile, Sandra Nixon, running for the NDP, pointed out that climate change is “not a far-off problem for future generations,” rather, people are already feeling its effects. She added the city will also face other impacts of climate change, such as food security and “becoming a destination for ‘climate refugees.’”

Both Nixon and Gillanders pointed out the fishing industry will also be impacted by climate change.

Nixon said an NDP government would, for example, make carbon pricing “fairer” and roll back “loopholes used by big polluters,” as well as fulfill Canada’s G-20 commitment to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.

These funds, she said, would be redirected to low carbon initiatives. The NDP would also establish multi-year national and sectoral carbon budgets and create a “climate accountability office.”

Liberal candidate Wilson Miao, meanwhile, highlighted that the Liberals have made “significant progress to protect the environment and grow the economy” since 2015, such as investing in transit and green infrastructure, and have also invested in communities to help them adapt to the effects of climate change.

“A re-elected Liberal government will shift to zero-emission vehicles faster, make homes and builders cleaner, and power our communities with clean energy,” he said, adding that if elected, he would advocate for more green jobs in Richmond. 

Incumbent Alice Wong, running for re-election with the Conservatives, said that when the party was in government, she helped facilitate funding for the City of Richmond’s dike and pump upgrades.

Wong said that while the Conservatives’ platform on tackling climate change was “too large to mention in detail” via her emailed statement, her favourite theme “is to harness human ingenuity and creativity to solve our environmental problems.”

“By unleashing the potential of our people, we can overcome the challenges before us.”