Coun. Ned Taylor says Saanich’s new climate change goals highlights the actions that the municipality needs to take after having declared a climate change emergency (Wolf Depner/News Staff).

Coun. Ned Taylor says Saanich’s new climate change goals highlights the actions that the municipality needs to take after having declared a climate change emergency (Wolf Depner/News Staff).

Saanich council considers more ambitious climate change goals

Staff promise more details about ‘acclerated actions’ later this fall

Saanich plans to raise its goals when it comes to fighting climate change, but past performance raises questions about whether the municipality will be able to meet those new targets.

The new goals to be discussed during Monday’s committee of the whole meeting calls on Saanich to cut community-wide greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 50 per cent below 2007 levels by 2030. Saanich’s current climate action plan calls for a reduction of 80 per cent below 2007 levels by 2050.

The new climate goals also call for zero net emissions before 2050 as a complement to the target of becoming a 100 renewable energy community by 2080.

RELATED: Saanich well off mark when it comes to meeting goals of climate plan

Sharon Hvozdanski, Saanich’s director of planning, said the new goals reflected directions from council, after it had voted to declare a climate emergency in March 2019.

Hvozdanski said in a report that the previous goals appeared “consistent” with research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as well as the BC Climate Leadership Plan published in 2016.But new IPCC findings say that global net carbon emissions will need to decline by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, reach net zero around 2050, and remain negative beyond it, if the global community wants to limit the expected increase in global temperature to 1.5 C.

With less than 12 years left to change current trends, the IPCC report signals that “rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, transportation, buildings, and industrial systems are required in unprecedented scale,” said Hvozdanski.

Coun. Ned Taylor, who has been an instrumental figure behind the climate change emergency declaration by the Capital Regional District (CRD) as well as Saanich, captured this argument in his comments.

RELATED: CRD endorses Climate Emergency Declaration

RELATED: Councillor wants to see concrete action after Saanich declares climate emergency

“We must do more to tackle climate change — the greatest challenge facing our world today,” he said, noting that the new plan is consistent with the IPCC report.

“It puts us on a path to save the planet for future generations,” he said. “With this plan, we’re doing what is necessary. Now it’s time for others to pick up the pace.”

But questions remain about whether the new goals are achievable.

RELATED: Academic study gives Saanich’s climate action plan middling mark

RELATED: ‘Bit frightening:’ Study finds most Canadian cities fail on climate change plans

While staff have promised a second report outlining “proposed accelerated climate actions” for late September or early October, the municipality has fallen short of its own goals to cut corporate GHGs emissions. Saanich had initially planned to cut its own emissions by 50 per cent from 2007 figures by 2020. Current projections (pending fulfillment of various initiatives) will see Saanich cut corporate emissions by 40 per cent by 2020-21.

The picture is the same when it comes to community-wide GHGs, over which the municipality has limited direct control.

A report released last year found community-wide GHGs will have dropped by nine per cent under a business-as-usual scenario in 2050 — the current deadline for cutting community-wide GHGs by 80 per cent and using 100 per cent renewable sources of energy.

Saanich — be it the municipality or the community at large — is in other words falling short of current goals, which appear less ambitious than the new ones, raising the question of whether Saanich can realistically fulfill more ambitious goals in less time.

“At the end of the day, we can’t do this alone,” said Taylor. “In order to get to where we need to go, everybody needs to do their part. With this plan, we are doing what it necessary. Now it’s time for others to pick up the pace.”

He acknowledged that reversing climate change won’t be easy. “But we can’t just focus on what is easy — we have to do what is necessary.”

The municipality is currently updating its climate change plan and Hvozdanski said Saanich finds itself in the “unique position” to revise targets and propose actions that reflect the latest understanding of actions needed to limit climate change to 1.5 C change in temperature.

Former councillor candidate Teale Phelps Bondaroff said declaring a climate emergency and setting emissions reductions targets is “merely symbolic” unless it comes with decisive action.

“Saanich’s Climate Plan is overly focused on increasing the use of zero emission vehicles and retrofitting homes, and while these measures are important, it falls short of the mark. 58 [per cent] of the 2017 territorial emissions in Saanich came from transportation, and rather than overly focusing on vehicles, Saanich should be looking at supporting public transit and safe active transportation options. In this way, road safety will play a vital role in helping Saanich achieve its targets.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

Victoria Truth Centre and Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society are hoping to replicate in Langford the format used on Emma’s Farm in Mission, pictured here. (Patrick Penner/Black Press Media)
Victoria Truth Centre hopes to grow transformative justice in Langford

Purchase proposal would see offenders, survivors and families work on organic vegetable farm

Tyson Muzzillo, regional manager of BC Cannabis Store, welcomes shoppers to their Uptown location, opening on June 16. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Government-run cannabis store opening at Saanich’s Uptown

BC Cannabis Store the first for government in Greater Victoria, 27th in province

The stretch of trail north of Royal Bay Secondary connecting to Painters Trail at Murray’s Pond will be closed temporarily this week for invasive species removal. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood trail behind Royal Bay Secondary temporarily closed for invasive species removal

Cloure in effect from 9 a.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Friday this week

Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics B.C. kicks off with a run at Swan Lake on June 6. The virtual fundraiser runs until June 20. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Torch run seeks to scorch previous fundraiser, targets $75,000 for Special Olympics

Global movement shoots for 40,000 km in honour of the 40th anniversary

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Most Read