Last year, Burlington City Council declared a climate emergency, recognizing that our community is already experiencing the impacts of climate change and that action is needed to support a low carbon resilient community.
In response to the emergency declaration, city staff worked with community and local stakeholder groups to develop a Climate Action Plan for Burlington, which was approved by City Council on April 20th. Although not planned, this is great timing in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd.
Burlington Climate Action Plan
The focus of the plan is to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
Why concentrate on reducing fossil fuels?
- It is the burning of fossil fuels that creates greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change.
How are fossil fuels used?
- They are used to:
- power our vehicles and equipment,
- heat buildings and water (thermal energy), and
- support industrial processes.
Burlington’s Strategic Plan 2015 – 2040 recognized that climate change is a significant issue and that the City should work towards being a net carbon neutral community. In the new Climate Action Plan, the target date for this objective was set. It is now 2050.
How can we reduce the use of fossil fuels?
By reducing (energy consumption), improving (energy efficiency) and switching (to lower or zero carbon energy).
There are seven program areas in the plan identified to help us achieve our goal:
- Low carbon new buildings
- Deep energy retrofits of existing buildings
- Renewable energy
- Integrated mobility
- Electric mobility and equipment
- Waste reduction
- Industry innovation
More details on the development of these action areas will be shared in the near future.
COVID-19 and climate change
We’ve all witnessed the world coming together to fight COVID-19 and the devasting impacts to vulnerable populations, people’s livelihoods and the economy. With everything ground to a halt, people in some parts of the world are seeing a blue sky for the first time in years or possibly ever due to reduced emissions, and hearing birds chirp due to reduced noise. Active transportation is increasing with more people taking walks close to home and getting on their bikes.
When the ‘green light’ is eventually given allowing everyone to emerge from their homes, there is an opportunity to ensure we keep our climate in mind and look to a low carbon future. It is anticipated that there will likely be federal funding to jumpstart the economy. Will we continue business as usual or take the opportunity to make decisions using a climate lens? We know the hardships people are facing right now. We also recognize that a transition to a low carbon economy is not going to be an easy transition. It will take all of us working together to change our practices. But the time has come for us to think transformational and not business as usual.
If you’re interested in what you can do, check out a past blog on how to apply a climate lens on your day to day decisions or the video below. Please note that some of the tips are not currently suitable for a physical distancing environment.
Take Action Burlington! We’re all in this together. Collectively we can make a difference.