The City of Salmon Arm’s carbon footprint is going up, not down, despite attempts to reduce it.
Like most B.C. municipalities, the city signed onto the BC Climate Action Charter in 2008. It is a non-legally binding agreement between the province, the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) and local governments “that acknowledges that climate change is a reality and establishes a number of goals to address the issue going forward,” explains a report from city staff.
Local governments, such as Salmon Arm, agreed to have their operations carbon neutral by 2012. However, that has still not happened.
Local governments also agreed to measure and report on their greenhouse gas emissions while creating more energy efficient communities.
In 2017, city operations produced 2,100.5 tons of carbon emissions, up 237 tonnes or about 10 per cent from the year before.
The emissions inventory tracks energy consumption – such as natural gas, electricity, gasoline, diesel and propane – from operations and quantifies the corresponding GHG emissions.
Staff told Monday’s meeting of the city’s development and planning services committee that there are practical reasons for last year’s increase, including lower temperatures and a busy year for public works and capital projects.
The largest creator of greenhouse gas emissions in the city, with 932.53 tonnes, is the arts, recreation, parks and cultural services area, which includes the Shaw Centre and the SASCU Rec Centre. Coming in second place in emissions with 451.26 tonnes is drinking, storm and waste water services, while roads and traffic operations came in third place with 415.59 tonnes of emissions.
In 2016 the city’s total was 1878.9 tonnes while in 2015 it was 1866.3.
Despite its lack of carbon neutrality, the city has been receiving Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP) grants for the past 10 years for continuing to measure and report its carbon emissions, as well as trying to reduce them.
Coun. Kevin Flynn pointed out that the service areas that create the most emissions are also those that make up some of the largest portions of the city’s budget.
City politicians will discuss their plans for climate action further at their Monday, April 23 council meeting.
To be carbon neutral, council could elect to purchase carbon offsets from the province, but successive councils have elected not to. As well as being costly, the city would not be in control of how the funds are spent by the provincial Ministry of Environment.