What is Climate Change?

The Earth’s temperature is regulated by a delicate balance of atmospheric gases that trap heat from the sun and make life thrive—these heat trapping gases are called greenhouse gases, and this is called the greenhouse effect.

Water vapour, carbon dioxide and methane are the primary greenhouse gases. Carbon exists on Earth naturally too, and is stored in plants, ground soil, and the ocean. Industrial activity, such as clear-cutting forests and burning fossil fuels, has released too much carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, causing the temperatures of the Earth to rise. This shift in weather patterns is referred to as climate change or global warming.

 

The Domino Effect
As the Earth warms, natural systems are disrupted, which leads to extreme weather events such as hurricanes and wildfires. Many animal species may become extinct due to climate change, and some places on the planet are likely to become uninhabitable for humans, leaving millions of climate refugees behind.

We must take urgent action to slow and then stop global warming. While we lower our emissions (or mitigate) it is also important that we adapt to changes that are already occurring and that will continue to occur.

 

What does the science tell us?

Due to human-caused greenhouse gases, the Earth’s average temperature has already increased by approximately 1 degree Celsius in the last 150 years. Greenhouse gas concentrations in Earth’s atmosphere have not been as high as they are now for at least 800,000 years. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization, is the global scientific authority on climate change. The most recent IPCC report, informed by thousands of international scientists, advised that we must take urgent action to keep global temperature increases to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to avoid disastrous consequences.

To achieve this, we must reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 and humans must achieve a net zero carbon footprint by 2050.


It's up to us to take action.

Climate Change in Squamish

Living in a community surrounded by the beauty of nature, we have a great appreciation for wild places. But, we risk losing our quality of life if climate change continues its destructive path. We have already seen climate change play out here at home and with neighbouring communities.

In Squamish, our greatest climate change impacts of concern are forest fires, sea level rise, and extreme precipitation events. Forest fire seasons have already become longer and more severe in recent years, threatening our homes, health, and the economy. Due to ocean temperature increase and polar ice melt, Squamish also is preparing for a one-meter sea level rise by 2100.

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District of Squamish Climate Action

Although we find ourselves in a predicament, there is hope. Climate action is a task each of us must take seriously— one that requires effort from every resident and all levels of government. Every small step makes a big difference.

In 2019, the District of Squamish declared a climate emergency and began work on a Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP), which includes a series of actions we can take to collectively reduce our community greenhouse gas emissions.


“Our Vision: in 2030, emissions in the District of Squamish will be reduced by at least 45% from 2010 levels, and we will be on track to receive net-zero emissions by 2050.”

Six Big Moves

 The Six Big Moves list actions that our community can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 38,300 tonnes CO2e per year by 2030—that’s the equivalent of 2.3 million round-trip drives from Squamish to Vancouver.

 

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The time to act is now. We must take urgent action to prevent catastrophic consequences. Together, we can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions—but we need your help.

What's next?

So, now that you’ve learned a little bit about climate change, how it impacts Squamish, and how the District of Squamish is tackling this challenge, what’s next? Find the resources you need to take action now or keep learning more about climate change.

Become a Climate Action Champion

Join the fight against climate change by becoming a Climate Action Champion. Calculate your personal greenhouse emissions, learn what you can do to help lower Squamish’s greenhouse gas emissions, and take the Climate Action pledge.

Learn more

Keep learning

Interested in learning more about climate change?  Continue your learning journey with resources and subject matter experts who are happy to share their knowledge with you. 

Frequently Asked Questions
Watch our climate change lecture series
Meet the local climate leadership team that guided our CCAP
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report
Climate Change Resource Library