Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has won praises from progressive voices since he surprisingly snatched the mayor's seat in 2010, but recent statements are putting him at odds with the environmental community. Since his election, Nenshi has demonstrated that vision thing so many politicians are lacking these days, pushing innovative ideas like:
- A scheme to improve the city, harnessing the concept of personal responsibility to get residents to do Three Things for Calgary;
- A program to halve poverty in Calgary by 2023, built around the idea of "My neighbour's strength is my strength;" and
- A Dragon's Den approach to spending a surplus, creating a conversation about often overlooked civic issues - an approach maligned by critics, but arguably bold as an experiment in engagement.
- A $13-billion long-term plan to expand public transportation in Calgary;
- A federal plan to improve energy efficiency in buildings; and
- Policies to reduce urban sprawl - resulting in the formation of a bizarre pro-sprawl cabal working to undermine his time on council.
Climate AbsentNenshi is a big proponent of using the principles of new urbanism to build a more equal and just city, but interestingly, it appears, he avoids speaking about climate change. His opinion is absent in media reports and of his some 18,500 tweets, only one mentions global warming and it is a joke.
@zvjezdanpatz If we get snow tonight, we will have had snow in all 8 months of the year so far! Bring on global warming, I say!Unfortunately, Nenshi's joke is a common climate change denial critique, downplaying the risks of global warming by pointing to small scale weather events running counter to the overall dangerous trend of .15 C of warming per decade over the last 50 years. It's not like Nenshi is a climate denier or anti-green, he does mention environmental benefits when discussing green projects, but often touts the economic drivers first. Following the latest science on environmental communication, his approach may be the only way he can get results in a conservative town.Recent research has shown conservatives will avoid buying light bulbs when their climate benefits are promoted, but buy them equally to liberals when just the economic benefits are marketed. So it begs the question: Is Nenshi following a Harper-like strategy of incremental change to a wary public while avoiding topics deemed to be political suicide or does the self-described policy wonk need a climate policy briefing? Recent comments are pointing to the latter.
-- Naheed Nenshi (@nenshi) August 5, 2009