Victoria mayor to speak at climate action conference in Germany

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps will be featured on a panel on waste reduction when she attends the International Conference on Climate Action, today through Friday in Heidelberg, Germany.

The panel is on consumption and production in cities, and how to move toward a zero-waste economy, Helps said. “How do we limit consumption of single-use items? So, bags and cups and takeout containers and so on.”

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Helps, who was invited to attend, will be one of many mayors attending from around the world, but the only Canadian mayor, as far as she knows.

About 700 delegates from more than 90 countries will be at the event, organized by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, and other German government groups.

Helps said she has had some contact with the German government in the past, which could explain why she was invited.

“I guess they see some of the work we’re doing here,” she said. “It’s an honour to be invited.”

A bonus is that former Heidelberg mayor Beate Weber-Schuerholz, now a Cowichan Valley resident and an acquaintance of Helps, will also attend. Helps said Weber-Schuerholz will be talking to her about a business-sustainability project in Heidelberg she started that ended up saving businesses money and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Helps said her goal is to return with ideas and international connections.

“In some cases, we have things to learn, and in some cases, we have things to teach.”

The budget for the trip is $3,800, which comes out of Helps’ $15,000 travel budget for the year.

Helps said her trip budget includes paying a “carbon price” of $399. Council recently approved a policy that travel by staff or council members had to include payment for the carbon that is burned.

The price settled on was $150 per tonne.

“The idea is to try to make us pay attention to what we’re spending on travel and to reduce our travel accordingly,” Helps said.

The money goes into the city’s Climate Action Reserve fund.

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