[Action] Renewed Climate Change Targets for Ottawa

Action: We’re setting our local climate change targets over the coming weeks. (i) Ask your Councillor now to ensure these targets strongly address our greenhouse gas emissions; (ii) Attend the committee meeting where the targets become public; (iii) give input in the public feedback period that follows.

On November 15 (see update) the Environment Committee will be presented with plans coming out of the Choosing Our Future process that’s been going on for more than a year now. Within one of these—the Regional Energy & Emissions Plan—will be contained Ottawa’s renewed target for greenhouse gas emissions.

This target was last set in 2004 at which time a 20% reduction by the year 2012 was established, as compared to a 1990 baseline.

Since that date climate science has advanced considerably. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the most respected body in the world on this topic) 4th report was released in 2007 and influenced in 2009 the G8 to adopt 80% by 2050 reduction targets based on the severity of consequences should we fail to keep warming below 2°C. As noted in one of the Choosing Our Future discussion documents, both Ontario and Quebec policies line up with this 80% target.

The data for the 2007 IPCC report wasn’t able to include more recent findings which indicate warming impacts are occurring faster than expected. Nor did the 4th report take account of emerging findings such as expected acceleration of warming if frozen methane deposits thaw.

Thus, with an understanding of current scientific consensus on climate change, targets set in 2011 should be as aggressive as possible.

The City of Ottawa of course exists within the framework of provincial, federal, and international bodies with important roles to play in addressing climate change. The City cannot go it alone; as in many other examples, achieving an aggressive objective will require policy and funding support from other levels of government. However there are three reasons why acting strongly in goal-setting would be appropriate:

  • Senior governments have yet to aggressively implement reduction strategies. When they do, a forward thinking Ottawa target set now will make compliance easier.
  • Being a lead municipality can influence both other cities and provincial & federal bodies to move forward.
  • The full consequences of climate change are dire; it’s irresponsible not to be proactive.

The Regional Energy & Emissions Plan is not yet a public document and so we don’t know what renewed targets are being proposed. This suggests three actions for concerned Ottawans:

  • Alert your Councillor now, before the Plan has finished being drafted, that you are hoping for strong targets.
  • Be there on November 15 at Environment Committee to see what happens – maybe even to speak to the issue.
  • Following submission to Environment Committee there will be approximately 3 weeks available for public comment. Be sure to look at the Regional Energy & Emissions Plan, consider what others are saying, and provide your own feedback.

After the public comment period is over the Plans will be finalized and go to City Council early next year. Given that the 2004 targets stood for 7 years, the next few months is your only chance to have a say in Ottawa’s climate change strategy for the foreseeable future.

Please tell a friend.

Note: The targets mentioned here represent “community” emissions as opposed to City of Ottawa “corporate” emissions. To their credit City corporate emissions are said to have met their earlier reduction targets. However, corporate emissions represent only 2% of regional carbon footprint so it’s community emissions at 98% that matter. These have not met earlier targets. In fact, though the City is trying to rectify the situation, there is no inventory of community emissions (at least available to the public) and so it’s impossible to know how well or poorly we’ve done against the earlier targets.

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One Response to [Action] Renewed Climate Change Targets for Ottawa

  1. Charles says:

    I have created a mini-poster that you can print and ask to post at your local community billboard.

    Download it here.

    Please don’t post these illegally.

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