Community Energy Plans in Canadian Cities

Credit: Gilmoth
In a nutshell, Canadian cities are tweaking and overhauling their energy support systems too slowly to make the kind of drastic reductions to greenhouse gas emissions that we need.

My latest research came out this month in the academic journal Local Environment - The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability. I studied five Canadian cities and found that, so far, their community energy plans are not yet enabling them to make the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that are required to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Some local governments created dedicated Community Energy Plans, like Guelph, Ontario, while others have folded energy management policies and targets into larger sustainability initiatives, like Vancouver, British Columbia. My research focused on these two cities in addition to Pickering in Ontario, Halifax in Nova Scotia, and Calgary in Alberta. I took a look at the energy management projects that these cities outlined in their community energy plans and researched whether they had made any progress in actually implementing them.

The cities had success in the implementation of energy management in municipal operations despite barriers in jurisdiction, perception of cost, communication and capacity. They had some more trouble with energy management in the broader community though.  Overall, long-term changes to community energy systems were not prevalent.

This dynamic was reflected in the greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations compared to the broader community. The cities had reduced the amount produced by municipal operations, but not as much progress had been made in the community's overall greenhouse gas emissions.

If community energy planning is to significantly impact community-wide GHG emissions and energy use, it is key that they influence a city’s long-term functions and growth. Otherwise, community energy plans will just nibble around the edges of action.

Find the full article here.