Support from Executive Director, Greenpeace in Canada



July 15, 2008

Councilor Judy Bryant

Chair, London Planning Committee

300 Dufferin Avenue.

London, ON

N6B 1Z2

Dear Madam Chair,

I am writing to urge you and the London planning committee to support a temporary moratorium on further “drive through” business operations in London.

While there has been much written and said about the importance of idling in the grand scheme of air quality and global warming, “drive throughs” versus parking lots, idling times and their corresponding carbon footprints, much of this has been raised in an concerted effort to create doubt, rather than provide clarity.

As was the case with the large tobacco companies in the sixties and seventies which questioned the science of smoking related illnesses, proponents of “drive thoughs” need only to create a doubt about the validity of their opponents’ concerns and they win: the status quo will continue.

Today, we know better. If you do in fact have concerns or doubts about whether or not “drive throughs” contribute to global warming and diminish air quality (and I stress here, you should not) then you should do what good science dictates: evoke the “precautionary principle” e.g. when in doubt about the environmental impact of an action, err on the side of caution.

I fear however that in this debate we may lose sight of the forest for the trees. The issue at stake is not counting the seconds of idling but what should London’s official plan be stipulating at a time when the entire global community is grappling with climate change mitigation? Should London’s official plan continue to support a status quo position that encourages individuals to get in their car and drive to a restaurant?

Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) has stated “the way in which the world’s growing cities are planned and managed will largely determine the pace of global warming”. Indeed, here in Canada, in the near total absence of meaningful federal action on climate change, municipalities and urban planning play even a greater role in addressing climate change than in other jurisdictions.

Municipalities have historically led the way on issues like waste diversion, cosmetic pesticide use and water quality. You can do the same on climate change. Public transit, building regulations, parks, traffic flow – and yes, regulation of “drive throughs” – are all areas in your purview that can have an effect on our collective greenhouse gas emissions.

No one is arguing that a moratorium on “drive throughs” is the most important issue facing our planet today, it is however part of the climate change solution puzzle and is the issue that is before your committee today. There will be no quick fix or single solution to global warming, just millions of small significant actions from individuals and leaders around the world.

Peter F. Drucker the renowned author and management guru once wrote that “management is about doing things right, leadership is about doing the right things”. I can assure you, twenty years from now no one will question why London does not have more drive through restaurants but they may wonder why Council did not act on global warming when they had the chance.

You are leaders, I urge you to do the right thing. Make London a leader and put a moratorium on new drive through businesses.

I thank you for your attention to this matter.


Bruce Cox

Executive Director, Greenpeace in Canada

c.c. Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best

Cory Morningstar, Council of Canadians


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