At Tuesday’s regular Council meeting, Judy Smith made a presentation that gave an update on Cobourg’s 2010 Climate action plan and recommended actions to achieve the 2050 goal of net zero emissions. Judy is the Environmental Officer for Northumberland County and also the Climate Change Coordinator for the Town of Cobourg. She described the overall performance of the Town in meeting goals – that’s the whole Town, not just Municipal operations. Using a tool provided by FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities), Judy established a baseline then measured progress in reducing GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Emissions. Although good progress has been made, the next goal of 80% to 100% reduction by 2050 means that “we should start on it now”. She lists actions in five categories that provide a “Running Start”. Although she stressed affordability, she gave no details as to how these actions would be paid for.
Summary of Judy’s report – see link below for full report.
The Manufacturing Sector has fallen from a contribution of 34% in 2007 to less than 15% today. This is because of fewer manufacturing plants plus efficiencies and less carbon being used to generate the electricity used.
Today the share of GHG contribution in Cobourg is as shown in the pie chart.
Total cost to Cobourg for fuel and electricity from 2007 to 2018 has dropped from $60 Million to $47 Million. A big part of this may have been the closure of the Kraft Facility in 2008.
To meet the Kyoto target of 6% below 1990 levels by 2012, in 2008 Cobourg set a target of reducing emissions from 202,165 tonnes of CO2 in 2007 to 179,132 tonnes of CO2 by 2012.
After passing their first Climate Action Plan in 2010, Cobourg spent almost $100,000 on greenhouse gas reduction measures including:
- substituting a solar thermal heating system for natural gas on the YMCA Community Pool
- the purchase of a smaller service and hybrid vehicles for staff travel
- retrofitting of streetlights to induction lighting
By 2016 GHG emissions were down to 97,438 by best estimates, a drop of 52% from 2007. We met the Kyoto target.
GHG emissions have risen slightly since, yet by 2018 we surpassed the provincial and federal GHG target of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030. In fact, we have made a 47% reduction below 2005 GHG levels.
The next target is an 80% to 100% reduction by 2050 below 2005 levels. We should start on that now. It is a race against time.
Judy said “Climate scientists say we have 10 years to flatten the curve to prevent serious runaway climate change” and she presented the graph at right.
Judy reminded Council that they declared a Climate Emergency in November 2019 – see link below.
Defining Measures to Reduce our GHG Emissions
- Measures need to address the most critical sectors vehicles and buildings both residential, commercial and institutional.
- Measures need to support equity and access to funds for low income residents.
- Measures need to be affordable.
- The greatest needs should be tackled first, i.e. housing retrofits, vehicle and home decarbonization.
- Measures should also be judged by their ability to deliver the most gain with the least pain [cost].
Judy recommended some immediate actions:
A Running Start
- Passenger vehicles
- Heavy trucks
- Houses need to be retrofitted to a much higher standard – this would include using heat pumps which have a very high thermal efficiency.
- Green Development Standards for new builds and large renovations.
- Incorporating community gardens, parks and trees, bike sharing, car sharing, EV charging – ‘complete neighbourhoods’
Smaller more energy efficient bus transit – as Judy explained to Council August 2020 – See An innovative Transit System
Ending Energy Poverty
- Build affordable housing that is net zero energy and net zero GHG
- Work with landlords and condo boards to retrofit existing buildings to a Passive House Standard. (Passive House Office Buildings)
- Pass operational energy savings on to tenants.
- Make used electric vehicles accessible to low income residents through low interest long term loans, and a car sharing program.
Protect Our Vulnerable Populations
- Provide resilient housing that protects residents from extreme weather events and power outages.
- Establish a neighbourhood level program to check on vulnerable people during times of emergency
- Set a Maximum Temperature Bylaw to protect from heatwaves. That is, have a bylaw making it a requirement that temperatures inside houses must not exceed a maximum.
After the presentation, Councillor Chorley asked if there was one major initiative, what would be Judy’s recommendation? Judy said she’d choose using the CIP to improve housing. [Most recent post on this here.] She went on to say that she sees Cobourg as a leader in this matter in Northumberland.
- Full Report by Judy Smith
- Dramatic Presentation on Climate Crisis – 30 November 2019 – Council declared a Climate emergency
This was the first meeting where the original iCompass video (on You-Tube) was not working but the new escribe system was – and it had differences (details here on what it’s supposed to do). See the addendum at that link for more.