The current climate change plan in place for the City of Halifax will be changing according to officials to make sure it’s more adaptive.
A Community Energy and Climate Action Plan is being worked on by the city with the goal to develop targets for energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions as well as comprehensive strategies for reaching them.
The plan is a serious attempt at dealing with the changing threat of climate change and a tender was put out Tuesday for a consultant to craft accurate ideas of future energy consumption and emissions up to 2050 in a variety of sectors important to the municipality.
Obviously models going fifty years into the future are going to be inherently ineffective, but this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be created and attempted.
The projections aim to help the City of Halifax understand what needs to happen for climate change goals to be meet says Shannon Miedema, the municipality’s energy and environment manager.
“We’re talking about transformative change…. Where would we even start? What would it take? How drastically would we need to change the way we essentially function?”
The municipality’s current target is to reduce emissions within the corporation — including buildings, outdoor lighting and all fleet vehicles with the exception of Halifax Transit — to 30 per cent below 2008 levels by 2020.
Miedema said the municipality is doing “not great” at achieving that goal, having only reached about a third of the target so far.
“I don’t think we’re going to hit it,” she said. “And the problem is, we’re a growing city and so we’ve built some really large facilities, and even though we’ve built them arguably green, or greener, or more sustainable than just the standard building, they still consume a lot of energy.
“Even if you’re shaving energy here and there on retrofits or lighting replacements and different projects, when you’re building a big shiny new library or a big four-pad [arena], you’re still increasing your emissions.”
The city doesn’t want to risk failing to make necessary changes to prepare to adapt to climate change. The municipality faces hazards include sea-level rise, flooding, high winds, storm surges, wildfires, diseases and invasive species, Miedema said.
“Climate-related emergencies are becoming more frequent, more extreme and therefore there’s more need to prepare,” she said.
The municipality has previously taken some steps to prevent climate change-related damage which include restricting plans for new developments that take sea level predictions 80 years into the future into consideration. But there’s a lot more work to be done, Miedema said.
“We have a lot of infrastructure that may be in the path of these hazards.”