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Victoria slashes 2007 GHG levels by a quarter, still not prepared for climate change

Road transportation still the largest pollution source, natural gas use challenges targets
More will needs to be done to prepare Victoria’s infrastructure for the impacts of climate change, a new report finds. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

The City of Victoria has seen a 24 per cent reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions over the last decade and a half as it strives for an 80 per cent reduction by mid-century.

That translates into the city emitting 314,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2021. Another drop of 100,000 tonnes will be needed to meet the capital’s 2030 target of felling emissions by 30 per cent.

Key drivers of the cuts include residents getting their homes off of oil heating, gas emissions falling thanks to people driving less, the province lowering its reported GHGs from electricity production and Hartland Landfill gas levels dropping.

The reductions from 2007 levels were outlined in the 2022 Climate Leadership Plan progress report, a third-party emissions inventory that’s prepared for the city every two years. That document says there’s uncertainty around whether the promising results will continue as the pandemic played a role in the GHG reduction, so it’s yet to be seen whether some trends were temporary or structural.

The climbing number of Victoria residents hooking up to natural gas also threatens momentum on the targets, the inventory said. Natural gas produces more GHGs than any other fuel type in the city, while it and gasoline are responsible for 80 per cent of the community’s total emissions.

Most of Victoria’s pollution is produced by road transportation (42 per cent), with larger buildings (commercial, institutional, industrial and multi-unit) accounting for just over a third.

The report says cities have an important role in the fight against global climate change. Doing so can help protect the health of their residents, reduce vulnerability to climate change-induced extreme weather and support a shift to a more sustainable future.

As the report warns of rising sea levels and increasing extreme-weather events caused by climate change, it found the city is falling behind on three of its six climate adaptation targets.

“The past two years have also highlighted that climate impacts are already being felt in Victoria and that the city is not yet fully prepared,” the report states. “Adaptation planning will require increased focus and attention to meet stated targets and build resilience throughout the community.”

The inventory states municipalities are facing increasing costs from extreme weather, but it’s estimated that every dollar spent on climate adaptation leads to $15 that can be saved.

The city declared a climate emergency in 2019 and identified six high-impact initiatives that look to make significant emission reductions, through making transportation and buildings less carbon-intensive. Various policies and programs rolled out since have taken aim at reducing waste and transforming how the city heats and powers homes, buildings and vehicles.

Meeting the 2030 goal will require a drop in 12,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually, which the report says will take bold actions and a coordinated community effort.

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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