Skeptical Ottawa city councillors want bolder target for greenhouse gas reductions
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Councillors on the environment and climate protection committee want to increase the City of Ottawa’s greenhouse gas reduction target, while questioning if the city is even doing enough reduce emissions.
The proposed 20 per cent reduction target would fall in line with a Federation of Canadian Municipalities climate protection program. City staff were planning to bring the 20 per cent proposal to council in 2019 as part of a review of the air quality and climate change management plan.
Coun. Jeff Leiper doesn’t want to wait. He won the committee’s approval Tuesday to recommend setting the new target. Council will vote on June 27.
The current council-approved target is a 12 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2012 to 2024. Council also has a long-term goal of reducing emissions to 80 per cent below 2012 levels by 2050.
Some councillors expresses skepticism of the city’s efforts to reduce emissions, urging staff to do more.
“My concern is at some point it will be too late,” Coun. Catherine McKenney said.
Stephen Willis, the general manager of planning, said the city has room to improve on managing energy performance of its buildings and vehicles. The city is starting to do a better job of tracking energy-related expenses, he said.
Coun. Stephen Blais noted the challenge of trying to cut emissions when the city continues to expand its infrastructure, such as recreation centres, fire stations and libraries.
Coun. David Chernushenko, chair of the environment committee, said the city has made a major move in reducing emissions by building electrified LRT, which will help remove diesel-powered buses from the roads.
The city hasn’t collected emissions data since 2012, even though the data collection is supposed to happen every four years. The city has hired a contractor to help take inventory of emissions.
The committee also approved a list of energy-efficiency projects to be funded by $633,000 of the Hydro Ottawa dividend paid the city.