The City of Saskatoon is taking action on climate change and working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Supported by the Environmental Leadership goal of the 2013-2023 Strategic Plan, the City has implemented a number of initiatives and is developing a plan to improve the overall environmental performance of the corporation (local government) and community.
Greenhouse Gas Measurement and Tracking
In 2016, City Administration updated its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories for the corporation (local government) and community. The 2014 Saskatoon Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory - based on 2014 data - provided new baselines of emissions data and was the first comprehensive GHG inventory completed by the City since 2005. Updates will be conducted annually in order to track progress and ensure the corporation and community are on-track to meet their GHG reduction targets.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets
In June 2017, the City adopted the following GHG reduction targets, which are in-line with federal and international reduction targets:
Corporate (local government) - Reduce GHG emissions to 40% below 2014 levels by 2023, and by 80% below 2014 levels by 2050.
Community - Reduce GHG emissions to 15% below 2014 levels by 2023, and by 80% below 2014 levels by 2050.
Setting targets for emission reductions is the first step in providing support to the corporation and community, to engage in greenhouse gas mitigation activities.
Climate Change Commitments
The City of Saskatoon is a member of FCM's Partners for Climate Protection program - a network of over 300 Canadian municipalities that have made a public commitment to reduce GHG emissions and act on climate change. The City is also a member of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy - "an international alliance of cities and local governments with a shared long-term vision of promoting and supporting voluntary action to combat climate change and move to a low emission, resilient society". Both programs use milestone frameworks to guide municipalities toward specific environmental performance goals, with synergies between the two programs.
Meeting the Milestones - Partners for Climate Protection
- Create a GHG emissions inventory and forecast - the City of Saskatoon achieved Milestone One in 2005, and again in 2016 through the completion of the 2014 GHG emissions inventories.
- Set a reduction target - Milestone Two was achieved in 2005 when City Council adopted targets to reduce corporate emissions by 10% below 1990 levels and community emissions by 6% below 1990 levels by 2013. This milestone was effectively completed again in 2017, with the establishment of the new corporate and community GHG reduction targets outlined above.
- Develop a local action plan - Milestone Three was achieved in 2009 with adoption of the Energy & Greenhouse Gas Management Plan, which provided the initial framework to manage emissions and reduce energy consumption. This plan is currently being revised into a 5-year Business Plan based on the results of the 2014 inventories and 2017 emissions reductions targets.
- Implement the local action plan - The City has pursued many of the recommendations from the 2009 Energy & Greenhouse Gas Management Plan, which has resulted in significant GHG reduction achievements over the past 9 years. A submission to Partners for Climate Protection on the degree to which measures in the original local action plan have been implemented, will fulfill Milestone 4. An updated implementation plan is currently being developed by City Administration.
- Monitor progress and report results - Completion of the 2014 GHG inventories and quantification of the GHG reduction impact of the measures implemented in the original local action plan, will fulfill the requirements of Milestone 5. Recognition of Milestones 4 and 5 are anticipated by the end of 2017.
Meeting the Milestones - Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy
- Register commitment - Completed in November 2015 through the City's declaration of intent to comply with Compact of Mayors (now Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy).
- Take inventory - This phase is consistent with Milestone 1 of Partners for Climate Protection, with the requirement of a community-wide GHG emissions inventory. Other requirements of this phase are the identification of local climate hazards and reporting of the inventory and climate hazards through the CDP reporting platform. Phase 2 was completed in December 2016.
- Create reduction targets and establish a system of measurement - Requirements of this phase include completing the following within two years of registering commitment: 1) updating the community-wide GHG emissions inventory (in progress), 2) setting targets to reduce community-wide GHG emissions (adopted by City Council in June 2017), and 3) conducting a climate change vulnerability assessment (in progress).
- Establish an action plan - Within three years of registering commitment, the City must: 1) develop a climate action plan demonstrating how it will deliver on its GHG reduction commitment (in progress), and 2) develop a climate change adaptation plan demonstrating how it will adjust to actual or expected climate change impacts (not started).
What can you do?
Climate change and greenhouse gas reduction are terms we hear a lot about these days. But do you know how to get started on reducing your greenhouse gas emissions? It’s easier than you think! It means reducing the energy we use, recycling, and using everyday items more efficiently.
- Get a programmable thermostat. You can program the thermostat to automatically lower the temperature in your home when you are not normally there or when you are sleeping. For every 1 degree Celsius you lower your thermostat, you save 2% on your heating bill.
- Get a new air conditioner filter. Cleaning or replacing your air conditioner filter increases the efficiency of the unit. Filters can be found along the length of the return duct in walls, ceilings, furnaces or in the air conditioner itself.
- Turn down your water heater. Every 10 degrees that you lower your hot water heater, you reduce your energy consumption between 3 and 5%. Most homes can set their heater between 46C and 50C and still enjoy hot water.
- Space heaters are energy consumption monsters. Consider applying plastic to windows to keep out drafts.
- Area rugs and carpets help insulate from the ground up. If your feet feel warm, you’ll feel less like turning up the thermostat.
- Buy Energy Star appliances. They meet strict energy guidelines and reduce energy bills.
- Shut off your computer when you aren’t using it. It could save you $55 per year!
- LED light bulbs are a great way to save on emissions and cash! Replacing ten 100-watt bulbs with LEDs saves as much carbon dioxide in a year as a SUV would produce in the same period of time and can save you up to $450 per year!
- Open your curtains! Sunlight is brighter than light bulbs and it’s free.
Waste and Recycling
- Think about what you throw away. Reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible. Did you know garbage generates greenhouse gases in a landfill? Landfill garbage produces methane, a gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
- Use recycled paper – recycled paper requires less energy to produce. Every pound of recycled paper you buy prevents 4 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. Look for the highest available post-consumer content.
- Compost – not only does composting kitchen and yard waste invigorate the soil, it also reduces the amount of waste going to the landfill.
- Xeriscaping– designing a yard and garden specifically to conserve water.
- Collect rain water – use a rain barrel to capture and store rainwater for irrigation. Make sure your barrel is covered to keep mosquitoes out!
- Water conservation – think about when you water. More than half of the water applied to lawns and gardens can be lost to evaporation and run-off due to over-watering. Water when it is cool in the evening or early morning.
- Leave grass clippings on your lawn when you mow. Clippings will quickly break down, helping your lawn retain moisture, adding nutrients and reducing the need for fertilizers.
- Plant trees on your property. They provide shade to help keep your house cool in the summer and remove carbon dioxide from the air.
- Is there another way to get where you need to go? For the average person, vehicles are one of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Think about carpooling to work, starting a walking school bus for your kids, taking a City bus on your errand or walking to the local grocery store.
- Think about a Hybrid vehicle for your next vehicle purchase. Hybrids are great for city and highway driving. On average you will double your mileage on highway trips and triple your mileage driving in the city!
- Slow down – Driving at 115 km/h uses 13% more fuel than 100 km/h.
- Don’t idle your car – You will save gas and significantly reduce your emissions. In the winter, running your car for one minute before driving is sufficient. Plug your car in but use an outdoor timer. Set the timer to start up 4 hours before you need to drive your car.
- Regular maintenance – a clogged air filter can increase gas consumption by 10%!
- The right tire pressure can make a huge difference on your fuel costs. If your tires are under-inflated by 10 pounds, you’re losing 4% fuel mileage.
- Aligning your tires saves gas, reduces inefficiencies and extends the life of your car.
Thanks to Drive Neutral, SaskPower and the City of Regina for some of the information provided.