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City records significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions

October 19, 2021
Council Updates

The City’s Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management today received a status update on the Climate Change Master Plan and heard that greenhouse gas emissions generated across Ottawa decreased by 15 per cent between 2012 and 2020.

A portion of the 2020 decrease is likely temporary as it was related to the COVID-19 pandemic and included a 30-per-cent drop in gasoline use from the prior year. To meet Council-approved targets to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2025 and 68 per cent by 2030, the community will need to decrease emissions by five to six per cent each year over the next five to ten years.

The City’s corporate emissions decreased 43 per cent between 2012 and 2020, mainly due to efficiencies at the Trail Waste Facility. This puts the City ahead of its short-term target to reduce emissions by 30 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025.

The City made progress on all eight of its climate change priorities since the last update in January 2021. The Committee heard about how the City is including climate considerations in major policies, a plan to transition to a fully zero-emission bus fleet by 2036 and a loan program launching this fall to help homeowners pay for home energy improvements.

The Committee approved a plan to spend $800,000 in Hydro Ottawa dividend surplus funds. The surplus would be used to support Energy Evolution priority projects, leverage federal and provincial funding where possible, and implement energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy generation projects.

The Committee approved the Better Buildings Ottawa Strategy to accelerate retrofits of large, privately owned buildings, which are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. The strategy outlines steps to transition these buildings to a low carbon future and the City’s role as a catalyst for this change.

A benchmarking and auditing program for such buildings would begin in 2021, and while participation would be voluntary initially, it would become mandatory over the next few years. To encourage building owners to participate, the City would offer free virtual audits and subsidized thermal audits. The strategy also recommends advocating to senior levels of government to help bring about required changes.

The Committee approved a Residuals Management Strategy to explore opportunities to increase the lifespan of the Trail Waste Facility landfill. The strategy identifies opportunities to reduce and divert the amount of waste sent to the landfill and operational improvements that can be made at the site. Staff would hire a consultant to develop a methodology to calculate the landfill’s lifespan and ensure accurate long-term planning. The City would also explore ways to expand the capacity of the landfill within its current property boundaries.

Recommendations from today’s meeting will rise to Council on Wednesday, October 27.

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