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Climate change causing high variability, shifting normals in CRD: report

Region has drafted an internal carbon price policy that’s under review
Ecological protection is a key feature of the CRD’s plan to mitigate climate change. Pictured is Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

The south Island will experience an increase in already notable climate impacts like unprecedented heat waves, heavy rains and floods.

That’s according to the Capital Regional District’s annual climate action report. The document lays out how the area hopes to avoid making the situation worse – while preparing for both increased extreme weather events and more gradual changes occurring over time.

The region can expect increased climate variability in the coming years - highlighted by hotter summers and fewer winter days with freezing temperatures, more rain for most of the year but longer droughts during summers and more frequent heavy snow in the short term.

The annual update identifies six main goal areas consisting of 127 specific actions. The CRD says it’s on track to meet community targets on constructing low-carbon buildings and infrastructure, sustainable land use and decarbonizing mobility. However, the region needs to pick up the pace on the remaining three areas: climate-focused decision making; boosting the resiliency and abundance of nature, ecosystems and food systems; and minimizing waste.

The Capital Region’s key initiatives for reducing pollution include increasing the number of trips by transit or active transportation, accelerating electric vehicle use, making buildings more energy-efficient and constructing carbon-neutral buildings.

Without specifics, the report also says an internal carbon price policy has been drafted for the CRD and is being reviewed.

READ: UVic says curbing Canadian forest fires could be an affordable way to cut emissions

Protecting and preserving more green space, waterways and parks is a key goal as they’re essential for storing carbon emissions and providing ecological services that help enhance climate change resiliency.

“As temperatures in the region rise, natural areas can also serve to reduce the need for energy-intensive air conditioning and provide accessible areas of respite for all residents,” the update said.

The CRD looks to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 45 per cent below 2007 levels by 2030, along with a 61 per cent reduction by 2038.

The region produced 1.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020, which is about a 10 per cent reduction from 2007 and a five per cent drop from 2018. That recent drop isn’t reflective of the actual emission portfolio as it’s largely attributed to a decrease in transportation during the early pandemic response.

Building emissions rose by eight per cent between 2018 and 2020, with one of the main factors being an increase in natural gas consumption and connections. Shifting away from fossil fuel-powered space and water heating – the overwhelming driver of emissions from buildings – will be key to reaching GHG reduction targets, the report states.

The pandemic postponed gatherings meant to discuss how Indigenous knowledge could inform local climate initiatives, so the CRD said it aims to do that work this year.

READ: Housing growth falling in Greater Victoria’s active transportation zones: CRD report

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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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