Council approved a new strategy Monday aimed at reducing the greenhouse gas emissions produced in Prince George and preserving aspects of the community that absorb carbon, such as forests and wetlands. The 2020 Climate Change Mitigation Plan includes updated greenhouse gas emission inventories, reduction targets, and actions that can be taken to achieve these targets. The 2020 Climate Change Mitigation Plan replaces the city’s 2007 Energy and Greenhouse Gas Management Plan that only had targets for the City up to 2012.
“The 2020 Climate Change Mitigation Plan sets out several short, medium, and long-term goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions both from city government-related activities and for the community as a whole,” said Andrea Byrne, an environmental coordinator in the city’s environmental services division, in a news release. “Our new targets include an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from levels measured in 2017 for both the city and community by 2050.”
These targets align with the emissions targets of the province and are expected to be reflected in the next iteration of the Official Community Plan. The targets and actions were developed in consultation with several city departments, external stakeholders and the public through workshops, referrals, public open houses, and an online survey. In all, about 800 community members participated.
The plan focuses on six main areas for improvement: transportation, land use, buildings, waste management, renewable energy, and policy, decision-making, and reporting.
“Prince George is well positioned to achieve these goals given our past climate action work and some of the successes that we have already seen,” said Byrne. “There are also many social and economic benefits of the actions that have been identified. Reducing energy use means reducing costs and transitioning to renewable energy can open economic opportunities. As well, many of the actions in the plan, such as local food production, preserving natural spaces and supporting active and public transportation, also support a healthy and vibrant community.”
Over the last decade, the city initiative that has provided the greatest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions has been the city’s downtown renewable energy system. This system uses sawmill residuals from Lakeland Mills to heat nearly a dozen downtown buildings. In fact, it is one of only a handful of municipal energy systems in Canada to use a renewable fuel source. Benefits have included keeping energy dollars in the local economy and improving air quality. It is also now a significant asset for the city in attracting additional infrastructure investments that favour projects with low emissions.
The strategy cost about $139,000 to develop with the majority of that funding ($125,000) coming from a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Now that the Climate Change Mitigation Plan has been approved, the city will produce a Climate Action Strategy, which will include the development of five-year work plans for the city.