Banner Photo: Students from Sḵwx̱wú7mesh/Squamish, B.C. call for immediate climate action at the global climate strike on September 27, 2019.
(Credit: Tracey Saxby)

New 2020 Article

2020 Rating

2020 Rationale

Canada is one of the 10 countries responsible for the most greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Not enough is being done to reduce these emissions nationally, or globally. Transforming communities to zero carbon emissions is necessary.

The following is an excerpt from the full updated article. Download the full 2020 article for all content and references.

The Path to Zero Carbon Municipalities

Authors:  Tracey Saxby, Partner, Visual Science

Ian Picketts, Professor, Quest University

Luisa Burhenne, Sustainability and Renewable Energy Strategist, GHG Accounting Services

Reviewers: Thomas Pedersen, Professor Emeritus, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria; Former Executive Director, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions

Ted Sheldon, Associate Fellow, University of Victoria Centre for Global Studies

Excerpt from 2020 article

In September 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that we must take significant action by 2030 in order to limit warming to 1.5° Celsius (C) to avoid worsening the long-lasting and irreversible impacts of climate change. A rapid, far-reaching culture shift is necessary to immediately reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and minimize impacts on ecosystems and human health.

Read the full article to see what else is happening.

Background: Climate Strike Squamish. (Credit: Tracey Saxby)

What can you do?

These actions are aimed at government level because the focus of this article is on municipalities. Actions that individuals can take will be presented in a separate article, coming at a later date.
  • action-government

Government Action and Policy: Municipal Actions

    • Declare a climate emergency to enable council and staff to dedicate the resources required to immediately reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Update greenhouse gas reduction targets to reflect (or surpass) IPCC recommendations (45% reduction below 2010 levels by 2030 and achieving net zero by 2050 at the latest).
    • Conduct a baseline greenhouse gas emission inventory, with ongoing monitoring and reporting of community-wide emissions every year to track success.
    • Establish interim targets and incorporate these targets into all relevant municipal planning documents (e.g., Official Community Plan, Community Energy and Emissions Plan).
    • Establish community engagement and outreach to build widespread support for climate action.
    • Create a climate action plan to prioritize policies and actions that will be the most effective at reducing community-wide greenhouse gas emissions. Identify challenges and opportunities, and establish key evaluation criteria to evaluate success.
    • Implement the climate action plan, then monitor, evaluate, and report on successes and challenges. Adjust climate action strategies to ensure that emission reductions are successful.
    • Build partnerships with local climate champions, businesses, industry, agriculture, community groups, and organizations.
    • Build regional partnerships with other communities to share resources, implement programs, and secure greater levels of funding and investments.
    • Support the Provincial and Federal governments to implement the policies and actions outlined below.
  •  Provincial and Federal Actions
    • Support evidence-based climate-action planning by local governments by conducting consistent, comprehensive, robust, and timely greenhouse gas inventories every year at the municipal level across B.C. and Canada.
    • Initiate discussions to determine how best to make greenhouse gas reduction targets binding for all provinces/municipalities. For example, make the B.C. Climate Action Charter binding.
    • Legislate a target of 45% reduction below 2010 levels by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. Ensure consistent targets for all levels of government, and update these targets regularly according to the latest science.
    • Support Local Government Act and/or Community Charter amendments which empower municipalities to achieve local climate targets.
    • Implement policies and legislation to provide funding and capacity building for municipalities as they transition to zero-carbon emissions.
    • Develop a milestone-based incentive program to help municipalities achieve climate targets.
    • Develop a climate action policy toolkit that municipalities can adapt and implement.
    • Convene experts (including municipalities) to identify what data needs to be collected to accurately track greenhouse gas emissions using both the CEEI and CBEI frameworks, then legislate development of and access to this data. For example, require ICBC to collect odometer readings when people renew their car insurance.
    • Improve CEEI methodology to accurately track community-wide greenhouse gases and provide that data to the municipalities and the public online every year (contributing to Locally Determined Contributions).
    • Transition to CEEI and CBEI at the municipal level to capture emissions that are not currently measured (e.g., embodied emissions from food, goods + services, flights).
    • Standardize greenhouse gas inventory calculations between Local/Provincial/Federal governments (allow Locally Determined Contributions to inform Nationally Determined Contributions)
    • Ensure equity and anti-racism are key components of climate action.
    • Expand the Pan-Canadian Framework to support a just and fair transition for oil and gas workers and communities as we transition to a zero-carbon economy.
    • Support developing nations as they transition away from fossil fuels toward a zero-carbon economy.
    • Enact legislation to better enable municipalities and individuals to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for past greenhouse gas emissions and to pay their fair share of climate costs.
  • FOOD 
    • Implement policies to reduce the consumption of animal products – the production of which releases significant amounts of methane – and increase consumption of plant-based foods.
    • Implement policies to support cropping practices such as minimum tillage to increase soil carbon.
    • Implement policies to promote local agriculture and eliminate food waste.
    • Implement energy efficiency and conservation practices.
    • Promote electrification of space-heating infrastructure (e.g. heat pumps).
    • Promote installation of district heating systems.
    • Replace fossil fuel energy with low-carbon renewable energy and phase out fossil fuel extraction.
    • Eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels.
    • Increase carbon emissions taxes systematically and progressively over defined long-term periods to further limit fossil fuel use.
    • Implement policies to promptly reduce emissions that have a high global warming potential over a short time frame such as methane, black carbon (soot), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to slow climate feedback loops and reduce short-term warming by more than 50%.
    • Adopt a Clean Fuel Standard and enhance measures for zero-emissions vehicles, including light and heavyduty trucks.
    • Revise the Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Programme so that 100% of vehicle sales by 2030 are zeroemission.
    • Increase funding for investments in public transit with the goal to remove commuter traffic from the roads.
    • Subsidise electric vehicles while investing in fast-charging infrastructure along major roads.
    • Transition BC Ferries to electric ferries where feasible.
    • Increase carbon taxes on aviation emissions and provide incentives to transition to electric planes for shorthaul flights; invest in alternatives such as high-speed rail along high-population-density routes.
    • Implement policies and incentives for all new buildings to be net-zero.
    • Develop a strategy and provide incentives to undertake energy retrofits of existing buildings.
    • Shift economic goals away from Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth to the Happiness Index metric and recognize that humans depend on healthy ecosystems.
    • Redefine economic success to incorporate factors that measure human well-being and the health of ecosystems.
    • Create more protected areas with better interconnectedness.
    • Fund restoration of natural ecosystems.
    • Protect remaining primary and intact forests to curtail habitat and biodiversity loss.
    • Fund and incentivize reforestation and afforestation (i.e., planting trees) where appropriate.
    • Continue to fund research and monitoring of iconic and threatened species and habitats.
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