Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Calgary committee approves revised climate change strategy

Calgary delivered its revised climate strategy Tuesday, with the goal of reaching net zero by 2050.

The 99-page document was presented to the Community Development Committee, and the public had an opportunity to provide feedback. It was approved 5-1 after an amendment by Coun. Richard Pootmans to ensure proper independent audit and accountability.

Planning and Development GM Stuart Dalgleish introduced the document to the committee, saying they know what the impact of climate change will be and what they have to do to protect Calgary.

“At the same time, we understand and are sensitive to the challenges Albertans will face as we transition towards a low carbon and climate-resilient future,” he said.

“There are significant hurdles that need to be overcome.”

One of those hurdles is the cost of implementation. City administration’s report highlights the cumulative investment of $87 billion over the next 27 years. It’s a little more than $3 billion annually. 

The report also shows the potential energy savings and avoided costs if the plan is implemented.  Up to $80 billion in energy cost savings could be achieved and roughly $8 billion annually could be avoided by achieving net zero the city said.

“Analysis shows that the benefits of these actions can far outweigh the costs,” said Dick Ebersohn, Calgary’s Manager of Climate and Environment.

Calgary declared a climate emergency shortly after this last council was elected. 

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said the report doesn’t explicitly mean we need to find $87 billion.

“That is not the point. The point is if we don’t take action on climate and the environment, there is a potential that is going to cost us a lot of money into the future,” she said.

Public weighs in on climate plan

Several public presentations were made, covering areas such as transportation and connectivity, use of fossil fuels, energy equity and planning and development.

Each demonstrated the impact of inaction on climate.

Robert Tremblay, co-chair of Calgary Climate Hub, said city-owned Enmax produces the vast majority of its electricity from fossil fuels. He said Calgary won’t reach its climate goals if Enmax doesn’t have targets for renewable energy in the Calgary climate strategy.

“Are there targets for Enmax in the climate strategy? Right now, there aren’t,” Tremblay said.

Other presenters, like ATCO, showed how they were making advances in hydrogen energy to wean their energy production off fossil fuels.

Court Ellingson, board member with Sustainable Calgary talked about housing affordability and the correlation to climate impact. He said that as we’re working towards density, we’re not seeing affordability improve.

“We have some lower-income households that are moving to more car-dependent neighbourhoods, and that we’re seeing that the private sector market provided affordable housing is increasingly in car-dependent neighborhoods,” he said.

“Density alone isn’t solving housing affordability.”

He said non-market housing in neighbourhoods that are transit-friendly and active transportation friendly is important.

In all, more than 25 presenters spoke during the public hearing.

The item will come back to a full city council meeting June 7 for further discussion and potential final approval.

Calgary Climate Strategy – … by Darren Krause