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A lot of work ahead for Sidney to meet its climate change emissions goals, says CAO

But Randy Humble also said reductions are achievable with community-wide effort
Sidney’s chief administrative officer says a lot of work needs to be done for the community to reach its carbon emission goals. (Black Press Media file photo)

Sidney’s chief administrative officer says a lot of work remains ahead for the community to reach its carbon emission goals in the municipality’s climate action plan and proposed but not yet formalized figures for the new Official Community Plan.

“Since community-wide (greenhouse gas) emissions decreased 9.4 (per cent) from 2007 to 2018, it would take an approximate 40 (per cent) reduction to meet the 50 (per cent) target by 2030, and an approximate 90 per cent reduction by 2050 to become carbon neutral,” said Randy Humble in an emailed statement.

On Oct. 12, council received and considered two reports dealing with climate change and the municipality’s approach to it. The second of which noted the community has shown support for the following emissions reductions during the current OCP engagement process: a 50 per cent reduction in community GHGs below 2007 levels by the year 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.

The current OCP calls for a reduction of 15 per cent below 2007 levels by the year 2020; 30 per cent below 2007 levels by 2030; and 80 per cent below 2007 levels by the year 2050.

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The new figures are more ambitious and Kira Gill-Maher, Sidney’s climate action coordinator, said in a report they would bring the municipality’s targets in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recommendations for keeping warming below 1.5 C.

But they would also require a greater effort, as the community would have to lower its GHGs based on 2007 levels by a factor of four in a time of nine years, an effort that would also require help from senior spheres of government.

“These goals can only be met through a community-wide effort and climate action programs across multiple levels of government,” Humble explained. “For instance, improved bus service could be a deciding factor in community members driving their vehicles less.”

He added carbon offsets could assist to a small extent. “(But) the greatest opportunities to reduce carbon emissions in Sidney involve changes to transportation (such as increased use of public transportation and active transportation) and retro-fitting existing buildings.”

According to a staff report, transportation accounts for 56 per cent of community emissions of GHGs, while buildings account for 29 per cent.

RELATED: Sidney staff report proposes cap on future building heights

Humble also made it clear that he believes the goals are achievable, pointing to the recently released report spelling out key directions that have emerged from the OCP review so far.

“The model (found in the report) also shows that with aggressive action, significant emission reduction is possible, achieving, relative to 2007, a 41 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, a 60 per cent reduction in emissions by 2040, and a 78 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050,” he said.

Last Tuesday’s meeting saw council take additional steps. Council first unanimously endorsed staff’s approach toward updating the municipality’s climate action plan, later followed by a unanimous vote to establish a climate action reserve fund that dedicates annual funding to help implement climate action project following the update of the climate action plan, with council set to decide the annual level of funding at the upcoming budget process.

Staff is recommending $50,000.

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