On November 4, 2016, the government of Canada signed the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The goals of this agreement, set by the previous Conservative government, commits Canada to reducing reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by the year 2030. To learn more and follow what Canada is doing on a federal level to reduce GHG emissions nationally, the government has created this website to promote Canada’s action on climate change.

Closer to home, here in British Columbia, the provincial government has created this site to communicate the province’s environmental protection and sustainability issues.

Provincial legislation passed in November 2007, which came into force in January 2008, saw the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act (GGRTA) challenge British Columbia to reduce its GHG emissions by at least 33% from 2007 levels by the year 2020. Interim reduction targets of 6% below 2007 levels by 2012 have been achieved, and for 2016 an additional 18% reduction has been accepted. A provincial target of 80% from 2007 levels by the year 2050, is the current long-term goal. The August 2016 version of the provinces Climate Leadership Plan can be found here.

The Climate Leadership Plan, at a glance, expects to reduce GHG emissions by up to 25 million tonnes below current forecasts by the year 2050. Here is a list of where those reductions will come from:

  1. 12 million tonnes by 2050 – By improving the provinces forestry and agricultural practices.
  2. 5 million tonnes by 2050 – By burning Natural Gas in lieu of burning dirtier fossil fuels.
  3. 3 million tonnes by 2050 – By switching to low carbon fuels and expanding alternative energy transportation.
  4. 2 million tonnes by 2050 – By improving natural gas burner efficiencies in the industrial and utilities sectors.
  5. 2 million tonnes by 2050 – By improving sustainable practices in local communities and the built environment. This includes energy efficient buildings, resilient infrastructure, and reducing waste.
  6. 1 million tonnes by 2050 – By promoting the use of low carbon and renewable materials in public sector buildings.

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The city of Vancouver has a Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP) that sees the community becoming the greenest city in the world by the end of the year 2020. Mayor Gregor Robertson is passionately committed to see his team achieve this goal. Details of the plan can be found here.

The plan outlines 10 goal areas with 15 measurable targets. The goals are:

  1. Climate and renewables – Reduce community-based greenhouse gas emissions by 33% from 2007 levels by the year 2020.
  2. Green buildings – Reduce energy use and GHG emissions from existing buildings by 20% from 2007 levels by the year 2020, then require all new buildings constructed from 2020 onward to be carbon neutral in operations.
  3. Green transportation – Make the 50% or more of trips by foot, bicycle, and public transport by the year 2020, and reduce the average distance driven per resident by 20% from 2007 levels, by the year 2020.
  4. Zero waste – Reduce total solid waste going to landfill or incinerator by 50% from 2008 levels, by the year 2020.
  5. Access to nature – Ensure that every person lives within a 5 minute walk of a park, greenway of other green space, and plant 150,000 additional trees in the community by the year 2020.
  6. Clean water – Meet or beat the most stringent of BC, Canadian, and appropriate drinking water quality standards, and reduce per capita water consumption by 33% from 2006 levels by the year 2020.
  7. Local food – Increase region-wide and neighbourhood food assets by a minimum of 50% 2010 levels by the year 2020.
  8. Clean air – Meet or beat the most stringent of air quality guidelines from Canada and the World Health Organization by the year 2020.
  9. Green economy – Double the number of green jobs from 2010 levels by the year 2020.
  10. Lighter footprint – Reduce the community’s ecological footprint by 33% from 2006 levels by the year 2020.

Not surprisingly, on the City of Victoria’s Community Climate Action website, one will see the city has committed to reducing Victoria’s community-wide energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 33% from 2007 levels by the year 2020.

Within the site there is an interesting report titled Community Energy and Emissions Inventory (CEEI) for the entire Capital Regional District in 2007.

Under the Sustainable Planning & Community Development main menu, the city’s Official Community Plan (OCP), can be accessed. It was first published in July 2012 and then updated in June 2016.

Section 12 of the 270 page OCP delivers a four-page account devoted to Climate Change and Energy. Although clause 12.23.1 does state the plan’s goal to reduce the city’s GHG emissions by a minimum of 33% from 2007 levels by 2020, the OCP does not contain any specific energy reduction targets for the components that make up the overall goal.

However, on a page on the Capital Regional District’s Sustainability & Climate Change website, one can find the 2015 Annual Report of the Capital Regional District’s Climate Action Program (CAP).

The report claims in 2010 the capital region released 1,552,234 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide equivalents (CO2e). The sources of emissions stemmed from:

  • Transportation 55%
  • Buildings 36%
  • Solid Waste 9%

The report’s accomplishments specifically related to GHG reductions include:

  1. 230 tonnes – Tap by Tap: Multi Unit Residential Program to implement high-efficiency faucet aerators, in partnership with the CRD Water Conservation Program, City Green Solutions, and Fortis BC.
  2. 385 tonnes – Climate Change Showdown Program, delivered through BC Sustainable Energy Association, enabling grades 4-6 students to learn about climate change.

Since the program’s goal is to reduce GHG by 33% from 2007 levels by 2020, (or over 500,000 tonnes of CO2e), we as a community have a real challenge ahead of us, if we are going to meet our goal in the next 60 months.

It is important to understand, the amount of resources and funding a municipality has for climate action programing is limited. In the case of the CRD, the program’s budget funds only 1.5 full-time employees.

It takes an enormous effort to produce a realistic and well-rounded community climate action plan.

As professionals in the built environment, transportation, solid waste and other sustainability related disciplines, let us be generous in our support for those who are developing the plans and programs that are necessary for us to achieve our community climate change plans.