Gregor Robertson, who aims to make Vancouver the world's greenest city by 2020, is lashing out at the federal Conservatives for rejecting the Kyoto Protocol and says cities will have to take a leadership role in fighting climate change.
"What's clear is a lot of the change we need to make with the environment and the climate has to be led by cities now," Mr. Robertson told reporters, responding to news Canada won't make a second commitment to Kyoto emission targets once the current phase expires in 2012.
"We're not seeing that leadership at national levels," said Mr. Robertson, adding that mayors around the world are "frustrated" with the lack of action from national governments.
Mr. Robertson made the remarks to reporters after his official inaugural speech Monday as he began a second term as mayor of Vancouver.
Asked exactly what Vancouver could do, he referred to ongoing efforts to make city-owned buildings energy efficient and advance a home-energy retrofit program, policies that were among the 85 initiatives touted by his Vision Vancouver party in the recent election campaign.
"We're on the front lines and forced to deal with these changes so there's a lot of collaboration between cities and mayors and hearing best practices and ideas and we'll continue to press for meaningful change on the national and international level," Mr. Robertson said.
George Affleck, one of two opposition Non-Partisan Association councillors sworn in Monday, was skeptical about the impact cities can have on climate change.
"I would say it's very difficult to have policy that would make a huge difference, and to bring all these cities together to make policy that would change an entire country," he said.
Monday's ceremony saw the mayor and 10 councillors sworn in – seven for Vision, two for the NPA and one Green Party member. A dozen Occupy Vancouver protesters banged and kicked on the windows of the community centre where the ceremony was held as the opening Coast Salish prayer was read inside.
The protesters also pressed banners against the windows. The hecklers were angry that, in light of recent problems with providing shelter for Vancouver's homeless population, the Olympic village – where the community centre is located – remains only partially occupied. They also criticized the cost of the ceremony, estimated at between $13,000 and $20,000.
Mr. Robertson said city hall was too small for the planned ceremony. Mr. Affleck, who had criticized plans to hold the ceremony outside city hall, said he was satisfied with the cost of the proceedings, which were less than the $85,000 spent in 2008.
With a report from Marc Ellison