If you were tuned into the news at all yesterday you will have seen mention of the US Governments release of its third National Climate Assessment. The conclusions were stark and made clear that Climate Change is upon us in the form of extreme weather and acidifying oceans and only we humans could be responsible and only we humans could take action to keep things from getting significantly worse. You can see more details on my Alberniweather blog or download the full report here.
This is one of my main planks in my ‘platform’. I believe politicians have waited too long, either through reluctance or ignorance, to take meaningful action.
So what can we do to really make a difference and reduce our CO2 emissions? Well, there are many many things we can do. How about car sharing? Could a car share company work here perhaps for people commuting over the hump or going to and from Comox or Nanaimo Airport or the Ferry?
Speaking of Commuting, what about increased transit service to the Beaver Creek and Sproat Lake areas?
There has never been bus service out there. Perhaps the residents out there could be polled and the Regional District could look at implementing bus service for the rural areas.
Bus service could also dovetail into better bike lanes and trails in the City to help move people around. There are even companies popping up in major centres like Postmates Where a small army of bicycle riding delivery people go from business to business, restaurant to restaurant, and house to house delivering anything you need right to your doorstep within the hour. All you need as a computer or smartphone and a credit card to make an order. This could be great for our aging population as well as to give our young and old new active jobs in the City!
And speaking of active, the City can always encourage people to do more walking. We have the distinct advantage from many cities on the Island that our City is fairly compact. We have a number of ‘centres’ for business and services and we have lots of walking trails!
This is an image from a website called “Map My Walk”. It’s another great little app that people can use to record and share their walks online so that other people can perhaps discover trails they never knew were in the Valley! I would like to see the City produce a comprehensive map book and trail and walking system so that people can combine our City streets and City Parks to be able to get all over the City either by foot or bike or board.
A big one for CO2 and energy reduction (and money saving!) is heating costs. The City and the public have access to a full Greenhouse Gas and Energy Community Inventory from the BC Government. The City needs to create a GHG and Energy Budget that fits right alongside their normal fiscal budget so that Administration and Council can develop and approve plans that will reduce the CO2 and energy use of the community as a whole.
This could be everything from providing incentives for people to upgrade their home efficiency (saving money on their utilities bill and creating local construction and home improvement jobs!). Big improvements could come from switching homeowners from CO2 producing heating oil or natural gas heating to electric and high efficiency (clean) wood or pellet heating or for larger business and institutions like the Hospital, hooking into the City’s upcoming District Energy system. Moving industry from trucks the road to trains on the rails or ships on the sea would also provide big reductions in CO2 and energy costs for local industry.
What is looking to be a more and more sure thing is that the price of any carbon-related energy will rise as governments look to clamp down on GHG emissions. These rises will come both directly in the form of carbon taxes and indirectly through service cost increases (like ferries and air travel). BC currently has a $30/tonne carbon tax… I’ve been told by folks at University of Alberta that a starting price of $40/tonne would be needed globally in order to start to change markets and reduce demand for CO2 producing energy. This price would have to rise by 2-3% per year. This will make long term investments in things like the oilsands and natural gas fracking much less attractive and investments in things like wind, solar, run of river, biomass (think wood-waste), geothermal and sea-based alternative energy much more attractive.
Port Alberni and the surrounding region has significant untapped potential for alternative energy including wind, run of river, tidal, and yes, even solar. There are great opportunities for localizing our energy which also means local jobs.
So if you are a little worried about climate change and overwhelmed, don’t be! There is plenty we can do and make our City much more livable and enjoyable in the process! If you have any ideas, please contact me or leave a message in the comments.