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Progressive science-based carbon pollution targets touted by regional district

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
March 8th, 2022

The regional district has adopted “progressive” greenhouse gas emission targets that expect to hit 100 per cent carbon neutral by 2050.

The “progressive science-based carbon pollution” reduction targets are expected to be 50 per cent below 2018 levels by 2030, hitting the century mark by 2050, and with a forthcoming four-year climate action plan as pathway to that lofty target.

The board recently passed the directive to begin the new phase of its climate action odyssey — it previously had Carbon Neutral Kootenays, Integrated Community Sustainability Plan and the Strategic Community Energy and Emissions Plan in place — and limit the effect of the global crisis in the Regional District of Central Kootenay.

The plan and its implementation are much needed in the regional district, noted RDCK sustainability planner Paris Marshall Smith in her report to the board.

“The flood, fire, drought and extreme heat of 2021 served as grim reminders of just how real the climate crisis is and how it impacts our daily lives,” she wrote.

“The physical and emotional loss and uncertainty experienced by so many residents highlights the need for the RDCK to clearly articulate its response and identify how it will work to reduce carbon pollution within the boundary of the RDCK, and thus help to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis on our planet.”

She explained that the framework of the climate action plan can integrate “emerging technology and capabilities while developing sustainable land use patterns through robust planning policy and regulation to mitigate flood, geohazard and wildfire risks, while preserving the landscape.”

The plan was necessitated by the desire to further define climate targets within the regional district, said Marshall Smith, with the ability to group the actions to achieve those targets into four-year plans.

For the last four years the regional district has been able to rely upon the Climate Action Strategy and the State of Climate Action report to support the planning and reporting of climate action.

Carbon pollution targets

The reason the regional district will be switching to science-based targets is they are measurable and actionable environmental targets aligned with the 1.5-degree pathway (as outlined in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report).

The targets represent carbon pollution reduction based on historic emissions or current development level, said Marshall Smith, and cover all community and corporate carbon pollution emissions produced within the regional district.

“Setting science-based targets gives local governments and residents confidence that planned carbon pollution reductions are in line with what is needed to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change,” she said.

“It is understood that there is a significant gap between what can be currently accomplished and the targets proposed, primarily in resource recovery, fossil gas combustion, and commercial vehicles.”

That problem is not exclusive to the regional district, said Marshall Smith, and is a challenge being faced globally.

“Advances in technology will help eliminate some or all of the shortfall, for example with development of renewable-powered commercial vehicles and increased renewable gas production.”

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