County council decided not to up its 15 per cent corporate emissions reduction target despite staff presenting options for higher goals.

It targets a 15 per cent reduction in emissions from 2018 levels by 2030. But McKay presented other options such as increasing that figure to 30 per cent to align with federal and provincial targets, or 45 per cent to follow the best science and help further limit global warming. McKay provided examples of similar municipalities aiming for different goals, from Sault Ste. Marie at 10 per cent to the District of Muskoka targeting a 50 per cent reduction by 2030.

“We are seeing unprecedented levels of action by all levels of government, shifting from incremental action toward transformative action,” McKay said. “Experts are warning us this is the critical decade to maintain a livable climate … A 45 per cent reduction is one that is based in science.

“Cutting our emissions essentially in half would require bold leadership but we would not be alone in this endeavour.”

Councillors expressed concerns about upping the target. Deputy warden Patrick Kennedy said the County faces pressure with more people moving to the area permanently.

“Fifteen (per cent) is still an admirable goal to achieve with what’s coming,” Kennedy said.

Coun. Carol Moffatt said the municipalities passed budgets and she would want more information on financial implications before approving a higher target.

“I would like a multi-year rough projection of what it’s going to do to our budget so we can plan and prepare for it adequately, as opposed to taking a leap of faith for the good of the world,” Moffatt said. “We need to do both.”

Environment Haliburton! vice-president Terry Moore said he was upset by how the conversation played out.

“The financial budget, they’re not going to matter much when we don’t have a climate that’s conducive to civilization,” Moore said.

He said there is not enough of a community movement on the issue versus a place like Muskoka. He lamented the County’s approach to finish a corporate plan before beginning consultations for a separate community plan.

“There is nowhere near enough pressure. Council’s not going to lead on this,” Moore said.

Warden Liz Danielsen said council will look for more information from McKay as she continues her work.

“We’re all recognizing it is a moving landscape,” Danielsen said. “Just because we’re not making a change today, does not mean we won’t do that down the road, and even not too long from now.”

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