Settling for a Greener Ottawa: Ecology Ottawa Puts Federal Efforts On Blast

For the first time in 10 years the City of Ottawa has prepared a new plan to fight climate change.  The Environmental Council passed The 2014 Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan (AQCCM) with only one member dissenting. The 160-page plan will now go on to the Full Committee where it is expected to pass.

The AQCCM aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the city by 20 per cent by 2024. According to plan, 90 per cent of the city’s GHG emissions come from transit and from the energy used to heat and cool our homes and buildings. This is where the AQCCM seeks to make improvements, with simple solutions like providing assistance and information to those who want to make their homes more energy efficient, and major undertakings like improving public transportation and expanding green space.

The previous environmental plan, the “2005 Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan” fell short of the same goal of reducing GHG emissions by 20 per cent, reaching only a 12 per cent reduction.

Part of the shortcoming in the 2005 plan can be attributed to city growth, as Ottawa welcomed 86,000 new residences between 2004 and 2012, which was not foreseen in the plan. The new plan will account for growth and will measure GHG reduction on a per capita basis. In essence, the goal has not changed, as the 2005 plan does achieve a 20 per cent reduction when measured on a per capital basis.

Ecology Ottawa, a not-for-profit organization working to make Ottawa the green capital of Canada supports the new plan, calling it imperfect but a step in the right direction. Fighting climate change at the municipal level might be the only way to go. Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa, Graham Saul is not impressed with the federal government’s efforts to fight climate change, saying:

“The federal government has phased out Canada’s only major federal programs to support renewable energy and energy efficiency. Over the past seven years they have consistently weakened Canada’s greenhouse gas reductions targets while doing almost nothing to achieve their own increasingly weak target. They are spending tens of millions of dollars a year of taxpayers’ money to run advertisements supporting the tar sands and Canada’s embassies are actively trying to undermine the efforts to clean up fuel supply in other jurisdictions like the European Union and California.”

The ACCQM falls well short of similar international plans that aim to reduce GHG by 80 per cent by 2050. Still, the fight to prevent climate change may have to be well fought at the municipal level, as Saul and others believe that the federal government has not only given up on of fighting climate change, but they are actually a major part of the problem.