January 2020 not only brings a new year but also a new decade. From a climate change perspective, this is a very important decade as the impacts of our daily decisions need to be considered now more than ever. Please continue reading to find out why.
The International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 195 members assess climate change science which governments could use to develop climate policies. In 2018, the IPCC released a Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5oC. This report compared a 1.5oC target increase, which was agreed to in the Paris Agreement in December 2015, to a 2oC increase. While negative impacts are expected at both targets including the increased frequency of ice-free summers in the Arctic Ocean, sea level rise, coral reef decline, extreme heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, etc., the impacts will be greater the warmer the earth becomes.
In order to reach the 1.5oC target, human-caused carbon emissions need to fall 45 per cent globally by 2030 from 2010 levels and be net zero by 2050. If we are to reach this target, we can’t just expect our governments, businesses and other countries to change their behaviours. Every single one of us has a role to play.
Personal Decisions through a Climate Lens
Our daily choices at work, home and play can make a difference. Here are some thoughts for consideration:
- How do you, your children or grandchildren get to school? If the school is a walkable distance, are they walking? There are many benefits including improved performance at school. Check out the walk & roll map developed by Halton’s school boards and municipalities for your route.
- If you must drive, can you carpool or combine errands? If you have more than one vehicle, could your household downsize to one vehicle and consider renting or ride-sharing when needed? An easy way to reduce emissions is to turn your engine off while you wait as idling not only gets you nowhere, it could also cost you $120 or more in fines.
- Are you in the market for a new vehicle? Have you thought about electric vehicles? While the purchase price is still a little more, the operating costs and maintenance are much lower. The federal government also currently offers up to $5000 rebate for an EV. Check out Plug ‘n Drive for more information or attend upcoming local events including the Burlington Sustainable Development Committee’s “Could your next car be electric?” at Burlington Central Library on May 7 which includes a presentation and test drives. More information is available at burlington.ca/environment.
- Another option to consider is an electric assist bicycle to give you a little boost to get around Burlington, particularly in those areas with hills.
- Are you planning home renovations? While bathrooms and kitchens usually top the list, have you considered home comfort? While deep energy retrofits don’t generally have the “ooh” and “ahh” impact, your energy use will be lower if your house is properly sealed and insulated to stop drafts, improving comfort both in the summer and winter. Rebates will help reduce upfront costs. The Home Weatherization Program is available to lower income families for free home improvements. The AffordAbility Fund is available to everyone who has an electricity bill with support based on net income and the household’s electricity bill.
- To reduce our carbon emissions, we also need to switch to cleaner sources of energy. Have you considered offsetting your energy by installing rooftop solar panels for electricity or installing solar thermal to heat your water?
- Your spending choices have a huge impact on carbon emissions. Are you buying new or used? Local or something that’s travelled a long distance? A durable or throw-away product? Will you repair a product or buy another? Will you live in a home with rooms that rarely get used or in a smaller unit that meets the needs of your family?
Burlington Climate Action Plan
The City of Burlington released the draft Climate Action Plan in December 2019. This plan includes seven program areas to help Burlington reduce its carbon emissions. The final plan will go before City Council for approval in March 2020. For more information about the draft plan, please visit getinvolvedburlington.ca/climate-action-plan.
Take Action Burlington! We all have a role to play in reaching the international global warming target of 1.5oC. Collectively we can make a difference!