Edmonton to hit its self-imposed carbon limit within 8 years: report

WATCH: An analysis shows the city is not on track to meet international targets. As Vinesh Pratap tells us, there's a push for Edmontonians to lower their carbon footprint even more.

A new city hall report says the Community Energy Transition Strategy that was approved by city council in 2015 is insufficient to keep Edmonton’s greenhouse gas emissions aligned with the 2018 Edmonton Declaration.

Edmonton generates a higher-than-average amount of greenhouse gas emissions because of the city’s northern climate and because it plays a role in fossil fuel production.

Mike Mellross, the city’s supervisor of energy transition and supply, said Thursday that a scorecard put together by international experts pegs the carbon score for each Edmontonian at 20 tonnes per individual.

The goals set by the Edmonton Declaration would get that down to an 11. However, the new report says the number Edmonton really needs to aim for is a three. That means the current plan doesn’t do enough.

“What we continue to hear from the scientific community — we heard it when they were literally in Edmonton last spring and we continue to hear it in subsequent reports from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) — is that things are changing faster than we thought,” Mayor Don Iveson told reporters on Thursday. “Or certainly [more] than we would like.

“More urgent action is needed from policymakers at all levels of government.”

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The report that will be reviewed by city council’s executive committee on Aug. 19 proposes more aggressive greenhouse gas reduction efforts. That includes increasing population density in mature neighbourhoods, increasing energy efficiency for all new residential buildings to get them to be net zero by 2025, and having heat exchangers and geothermal heat pumps used as common practice by 2050.

Mellross said other ideas have also been identified.

“Some of the things that are considered is having 85 per cent of new buildings in Edmonton… [with] solar installations, which would provide 60 per cent of their electricity,” he said.
“Another thing to facilitate the goal is having the necessary support structures in place for infrastructure to have electrification of personal vehicles, with an ambition of getting 100 per cent penetration rate by 2040.”

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Business is buying in said David Dodge, who co-chairs the Energy Transition Advisory Committee.

“Our builders here are the very best at building super energy-efficient buildings in all of Canada, including Vancouver, and it’s partly because the challenge here is much greater than a little bit of rain and 2 C in Vancouver on a winter day, and -30 C and a blizzard in Edmonton on a winter day.”

“This is really the moonshot of our generation,” Iveson said. “Solving this challenge is even more complicated than putting a man on the moon and yet, 50 years ago, we were able to do that.

“I had a meeting just a couple of weeks ago with some of the senior folks at ATCO, who are trying lots of different things with district energy systems [and] thinking about the hydrogen economy of the future, and we want Edmonton to be one of those test beds for those new technologies, because if we can invent some of the solutions that help us achieve this moonshot goal, we want to be selling those solutions around the world.

“We have to get there. It’d be irresponsible not to. If we are the generation that fails to do this, how can I look my kids in the eye?”

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