GHG Roundtable

On Wednesday June 27 City Council accepted the recommendation of Environment Committee to “host a stakeholders’ Round Table … to engage the community on the matter of GHG* reductions.” This was a cause for celebration among those of us who’d like the City to take it’s past commitments on climate change seriously.

At first what we heard from the City was that the Roundtable likely wouldn’t get organized before the fall. Things definitely won’t have sped up due to the loss due to department reorganizations of two city employees closely associated with GHG work; David Miller and Michael Murr. What the reorg and their release says about the City’s committment to GHG reduction isn’t exactly clear yet. Recently the rumor is that after Christmas is a more likely expectation for the Roundtable.

You can see full recommendation that City Council adopted here. It leaves out all the good reasons to undertake the Roundtable as contained in the original motion that passed at Environment Committee and reproduced below. For all the bureaucratic formality of the language of a motion in committee, the good reasons are still very good reasons.

WHEREAS The City of Ottawa’s Official Plan states “Climate change is one of the critical environmental challenges facing the world and measures to both reduce GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions (mitigation) and prepare for the impacts of climate change (adaptation) need to be incorporated into all levels of City decision-making… The City has made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in both corporate operations and at the community level”; and

WHEREAS On July 13, 2011, Council approved its Term of Council priorities which include the priority of “Environmental Stewardship: Promote long-term sustainability, reduce the City’s environmental footprint…”; and

WHEREAS based on the recently completed 2004 and 2008 Corporate and Community Greenhouse Gas Inventories for the City of Ottawa, corporate GHG emissions generated by the City of Ottawa’s own operations were found to have been reduced by 12.5% over the four year period; and

WHEREAS based on that same Corporate and Community Greenhouse Gas Inventories study, community GHG emissions represent approximately 95% of total emissions caused by activities within Ottawa’s boundaries; and

WHEREAS in January 2005 Council approved GHG reduction targets of 20% in community emissions by 2012 from 1990 levels; and

WHEREAS based on that same Corporate and Community Greenhouse Gas Inventories study, plus other earlier inventory studies, community GHG emission reductions are shown to be very unlikely to achieve Council approved reduction targets – in fact in all cases were calculated to have increased over time, not reduced; and

WHEREAS in 2011 the Federation of Canadian Municipalities indicated that “local governments have direct or indirect control over 45% of GHG emissions”;

WHEREAS city staff are to be congratulated for the important GHG reductions from corporate sources as documented for the four year period of the GHG inventory; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the city host a stakeholders’ Round Table, including members representing business groups such as the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Environment Committee, Invest Ottawa, as well as community groups and organizations, etc. to engage the community on the matter of GHG reductions by examining the following questions and promoting solutions:

  1. What strategies according to cost/benefit analysis result in the greatest reduction of GHG;
  2. What solutions offer the fastest payback in terms of GHG reductions;
  3. What solutions have the lowest barriers to success;
  4. What utilities and companies can provide synergies through energy reduction & efficiency programs;
  5. How can efficient appliances and/or building features be promoted to a greater degree (e.g., low flush toilets); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Environment Committee select 2 Councillors to sponsor the Round Table; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Ottawa maintain or exceed its current level under the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Partners for Climate Protection program.

*GHG= greenhouse gas

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