Prince George replaces outdated climate action plan with new emission targets

Previous targets set by by the city in 2007 were not achieved

A climate demonstration in Prince George in 2019. A new report from city staff shows how climate change has already affected the region, from historic wildfire events to long winter cold snaps, and lays out emission targets to try and mitigate the risks. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

By the year 2050, residents of Prince George, B.C., can expect to have six more days a year where temperatures soar above 30 C, according to a city report that outlines new climate targets for the municipality.

The 2020 Climate Change Mitigation Plan was approved by city council March 26 and replaces a 2007 energy and greenhouse gas management plan that had only set targets up until the year 2012.

Targets for the old plan were not met and there had been no plan in place in the municipality for more than a decade.

The targets now set by council include a five per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2017 levels by 2025, a 12 per cent reduction by 2030 (17 per cent for corporate emissions), 50 per cent by 2040 and 80 per cent by 2050.

‘We really don’t want to push everything off into the future. We want to make that incremental change,” said Andrea Byrne, the city’s environmental coordinator and author of the report.

The report shows how climate change has already affected the region, from historic wildfire events to long winter cold snaps, as well as hotter summer days.

The year 2017 was selected as the baseline for Prince George’s 2020 Climate Change Mitigation Plan and incremental goals have been set for the next 30 years. (City of Prince George 2020 Climate Change Mitigation Plan)

 

Both the previous goals, and the new ones, apply to both corporate emissions — which includes greenhouse gases created by city projects, such as road work or building construction — and community emissions from residents’ activities, such as driving.

In 2007, the city set a target date of 2012 to reduce corporate emissions by 10 per cent below 2002 levels, and reduce community emissions by two per cent below 2002 levels. It failed on both accounts.

Corporate greenhouse gases had actually increased 7.5 per cent by 2012, and were up 9.5 per cent by 2017. According to the 2020 report, this was due to burning fossil fuels to heat buildings and power vehicles.

The community reduction target was also missed, with a 0.8 per cent increase by 2012 and a 3.9 per cent increase by 2017, also due to a growth in vehicle emissions.

During an interview on CBC’s Daybreak North, Byrne said transportation is responsible for the majority of emissions and will be one of the key areas the plan focuses on, which will mean trying to encourage more Prince Georgians to walk, bike and use public transport.

Other key focus areas include land use, improving energy performance in buildings, waste management, increasing renewable energy use, and policy decision making.

Byrne said the city is hoping to hold public conversations about the plan in the fall.

To hear the complete interview with Andrea Byrne on Daybreak Northtap here

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