"Not all weather experienced in our city over the next 80 years will be 'on-trend' due to natural climate variability. However, collaborative ideas today can build and improve Saskatoon's resiliency through local actions tomorrow,"- says Jeanna South, Director of Sustainability.
While climate change is a global issue, many of its impacts are felt locally. Cities are responsible for 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with Saskatchewan being the highest emitter per capita in Canada. To help be a part of the solution, and not just the problem, on June 26, 2017, Saskatoon City Council set a GHG emission reduction target of 80% below 2014 levels by 2050.
If emissions are not reduced on a global scale, Saskatoon's climate future is projected to be warmer, wetter and wilder. In the long term, this means drought, extreme heat and larger pest populations; increased flooding and freezing rain in the place of snow; and intense storms, blizzards, hail and tornadoes, occurring more often and causing damage to public and private property on a regular basis.
To support the City of Saskatoon's emission target and to reduce the risks of a warmer, wetter, wilder future, the Low Emissions Community (LEC) plan was developed by the City of Saskatoon. The LEC plan will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions through City operations and in the community as a whole. To be achievable, the plan's 40 actions and their investments need to be implemented over the next 30 years through four phases. To be successful, phase 1 of the plan needs to be implemented now.
The 40 actions from the LEC plan all support the concept of "reduce, improve, switch," which means all the actions help reduce consumption of resources, improve our city services, buildings and homes, and facilitate the switch to renewable energy sources.
Reducing emissions also provides financial, economic, and social opportunities and benefits, such as:
- 74% of the actions result in financial savings or revenues for the municipality, businesses/ industry, or households;
- New revenues for the municipality mean less reliance on property taxes;
- Investments can generate an estimated 100,000 person- years of employment between 2020 - 2050;
- Diversification of our economy can make Saskatoon an even more attractive place to do business;
- Reduction of pollutants can improve air, water and soil quality;
- Careful land use and more walkable communities improves community well-being and quality of life; and
- Social equity is increased by access to renewable energy and moving around the city through active transportation.
The Low Emissions Community plan is the first step to co-creating a healthier, more regenerative, resilient, and equitable City. The plan's actions and investments are a good start, but broad scale community wide efforts are required to tackle this challenge. For more information on the City's Climate Action Planning, to read the full LEC plan or read sources from this article, please visit saskatoon. ca/lowemissions. For advice or ideas on actions your household or business can take to reduce emissions please visit environmentalsociety.ca/category/tips