Monday, September 29, 2014

City of Langley’s lackluster Climate Change Action Report

Back last decade, the provincial government made a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our province. At the local level, the province created the Climate Action Charter which local government could sign onto. A local government that signed on to the Charter had to:

-Achieve carbon neutral corporate operations by 2012
-Measure and report on community greenhouse emissions profiles
-Create complete, compact and more energy-efficient rural and urban communities

In exchange for signing the Charter, local governments get a grant equal to 100% of the carbon tax paid to the province. The City of Langley is part of this program. One of the requirement of the program is to provide an annual progress report. The City of Langley will be presenting its progress report at tonight’s council meeting.

The report looks at two areas. One section of the report focuses on community-wide measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The other section looks at greenhouse gas emissions caused directly by the City’s operations.

Between 2009 and 2010 within the City's internal operations, it was able to significantly reduce GHG from electricity use. The city was also able to reduce GHG caused by diesel/biodiesel usage. At the same time, the City’s GHG emissions as a result of gasoline usage increased. Between 2010 and 2013, the City has only seen a minor reductions of GHG emissions caused by its internal operations. The City does use carbon offset credits to be “carbon neutral.”

In the annual Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program Public Report, the City of Langley is required to outline what actions it took in the reporting year, and what actions it plans to take in future years, to reduce GHG emissions both community-wide and within its operations. The City of Langley’s report is sparse.

The City noted its new Parks & Recreation Master Plan and upcoming Master Transportation Plan as measures to reduce GHG emissions. Of course, the City will need to impediment the plans for them to have any effect. When it comes to reducing GHG emissions cause by transportation, the City will need to start focusing on walking and cycling. It seems City Council is still auto-oriented. For example, the City just approved a new drive-thru Tim Hortons in heart of Downtown Langley.

The City also noted it is planning to install sidewalks on 48th Avenue between Grade Crescent and 208 Street, and has optimized the traffic signal timing at two intersections along the Langley Bypass as part of its “Climate Action”. The City planted 67 new trees.

As mandated by Metro Vancouver, the City of Langley started implementing kitchen organic waste collection in 2013. This will play a larger role in reducing GHG emissions across the region.

To reduce GHG emissions within the City’s internal operations, the City installed LED lighting as part of the new McBurney Lane. The City also replaced the lighting at Douglas Recreation Centre with LED units. The City also plans to develop an LED lighting business case study. Cities throughout North America are seeing the benefit of switching to LED lighting, hopefully the City of Langley will too.

After reviewing the annual Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program Public Report, I feel that the City hasn't taken a leadership role and been particular innovative in reducing GHG emissions within the community or its operations. This is a real shame because reducing GHG emissions means reducing energy use. Reducing energy use means saving money. While implementing programs and plans to reduce GHG emissions have upfront capital costs, they result in on-going operational savings. Savings that can be passed along to taxpayers.

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