Esquimalt, like many governments, has a long history of setting ambitious climate change targets, and then not doing much to ensure we actually meet them. Back in 2013, council adopted some of the most ambitious targets in BC- a 38% reduction by 2020. When it became clear in 2018 that we were in no position to meet that target, it was quietly pushed forward to 2030.
Back in 2019, council declared a climate emergency, and then spent 3 years coming up with a plan that has very few concrete actions. The recent pandemic has demonstrated that, given a crisis, governments can react quickly if they want to.
Rather than making a big deal of our targets and intentions, I’d like Esquimalt to start developing some concrete actions and policies to match its ambitious plans and targets. The existing plan relies heavily on retrofitting existing buildings and on converting our vehicles to electric vehicles but provides very little detail as to how Esquimalt is going to achieve its ambitious 2030 targets. With only 8 years to go, concrete plans and actions are needed.
I’d like Esquimalt to:
- Develop a plan for providing electric vehicle charging facilities near older apartments and condominiums. Over 50% of households in Esquimalt live in apartments and condos, and most will be difficult and expensive to retrofit with at-home charging facilities. With 100% of new vehicles sold in BC to be electric by 2035, residents are going to need a place to charge their vehicles.
- Determine what actions and budget the Township can and needs to do in order to help Esquimalt residents and businesses the GHG emissions from their homes and places of businesses. The Township’s Community Climate Mitigation Plan relies heavily on retrofitting existing buildings to meet the 2030 target: we need to start now or revise the target to be realistic. We should target any incentives at lower-income residents or those who’s homes would require above average costs to retrofit.
- Increase standards for new construction. Esquimalt is one of the few municipalities remaining in BC that does not require new developments to meet increased energy or GHG standards. A new building built now will require expensive retrofit to meet our targets within its lifetime: why not start now?
- Increase our tree planting program on public lands, such as in parks and on streets. Many neighbourhoods are losing tree cover due to development: increasing tree planting on public lands provides shade and habitat in the long term, in locations that are protected over the long term. While this doesn’t reduce our GHG emissions in a meaningful way, it does provide many co-benefits as we adapt to a warming climate.
- Provide leadership in reducing emissions from Township operations: the Township has set a goal of reducing its own emissions by 45% by 2030. The latest update (from 2018) indicates that little progress has been made. Every capital decision on Township buildings and fleet needs to be evaluated using this target as a lens.