Sidney council has unanimously approved the municipality’s updated climate action plan.
Town staff began an internal review into the issue in 2021 and public input was provided earlier this year.
Sidney plans to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent below 2007 levels, and is looking to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
“This is consistent with the targets set by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) to limit warming to 1.5 C,” a staff report reads. “While ambitious, the IPCC found that this is still possible with coordinated action across all levels of government and within our communities.”
The targets “serve to highlight the need for urgent action” within the municipality in areas where local governments have jurisdiction and influence, while also advocating for change at upper levels of government and encouraging action among non-governmental organizations, businesses and individuals.
“Meeting these targets will require incentives, policy, and regulatory change from the (provincial) and (federal) governments as well as community participation over the long-term,” the report continues.
While climate change has a wide variety of effects, Sidney faces a high risk of severe coastal storm surges and heatwaves.
Looking at the effects of past policies, the report said greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 15.1 per cent between 2007 and 2020, citing a CRD study.
This figure means Sidney met climate change targets under the 2010 plan, but has lots of work ahead when it comes to meeting the 2030 goals.
The finding comes with a caveat. The 2008 recession and COVID-19 pandemic were largely responsible for the decreases.
In 2020, Sidney as a community emitted 53,276 tonnes of CO2, with on-road transportation accounting for 39 per cent, residential buildings 26 per cent and commercial and industrial buildings 13 per cent. The municipality, which as an organization achieved carbon neutrality in 2015, emitted 408 tones of CO2 with the majority of emissions coming from its vehicle fleet (60 per cent) and buildings (26 per cent).
Speaking to council earlier this month, Dennis Carlsen, president of the Sidney Community Association, offered a mix of praise and criticism of the document.
“It’s clearly worded, ” he said. “There are recommendations on how to implement the polices in that document. But to us, it seems like the document is geared toward primarily actions that the Town will undertake, specifically regarding their operations and regulations. We believe that to truly have an impact, the climate action plan should be a community responsibility and for that reason, we are requesting that the climate action plan include specific initiatives targeted at the broader community.”
Sidney as a community at large is in many respects “somewhat complacent” when it comes to climate change, Carlsen added. “But it is mitigating climate change that we should value as a community. My hope is that we would value passing on a community to the next generations that is more resilient to climate change.”
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