With greenhouse gas emissions rising, it’s time to speed up the plan for city operations to be net zero by 2050, says Evan Ferrari, executive director of eMERGE Guelph Sustainability.
“That’s way, way, way too late. All the science is telling us that,” he said. “It has to accelerate much faster than that.
“We can't wait until 2050 to realize it's too late.”
Greenhouse gas emissions from city operations – transit, recreation centres, administration offices, public works, etc. – rose by 0.02 per cent between 2018 and 2019, reaching nearly 24.37 million kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent. A report to city council last fall noted the increase and referred to greenhouse gas emissions as having “flat lined.”
Ferrari acknowledges the increase is “marginal” but notes any increase is a step backward. He suggests interim goals be established in order to help reach the goal of being net zero by 2050.
“I don’t think we’ve got the right targets in place. I think we need to change the way we’re evaluating things,” he said.
Ferrari further called for climate change action to be entrenched in the city’s official plan review, which is underway now, and that city staff be empowered to bring forward ideas to fight climate change.
A report on corporate greenhouse gas emissions for 2020 is expected later this year.
“That’s where we fully expect to see a reduction, primarily because of COVID more than anything else,” Ferrari said, pointing to closures at recreation centres, River Run Centre, city employees working from home and a drop in job-related driving. “Once society gets back to … typical, we need to cast a critical eye and say, ‘can we keep our emissions down, can we reduce them?’”