Today, council's Environment Committee will receive Energy Evolution, the latest and most comprehensive version of the city's climate action plan. There's a lot at stake to getting this right. Here are our thoughts...
- It's a massive effort, and it's encouraging to see detail on specific projects, budget requirements long-term analysis of cost savings in energy efficiency and electrification.
- There has been some coverage of the price tag, but the accompanying narrative is also important. If the city makes ambitious climate investments, it will see *billions* in return on investment beginning in 2032.
- Further, as many of us know, with climate change the cost of action is dwarfed by the long-term costs of inaction.
- There are clear gaps in this report that the committee should be aware of. We understand that the scope of this exercise was limited, but filling these gaps may cause substantial changes to the analysis.
- First, there are major policy gaps with regard to land use / intensification / sprawl. The authors recommend "Integration of climate mitigation policies into the new Official Plan" as the first of their list of 21 recommended projects, but there are no details.
- The model also fails to account for embodied carbon. So, new sprawling developments, highways, etc. simply don't count in the emissions total. How bad is this? Clean Energy Canada writes of a UK highway widening where 76% of the project's total carbon footprint resulted from embodied carbon.
- Issues aside, this is the only comprehensive climate plan the City of Ottawa has. Let's not make the perfect the enemy of the good, and let's start implementing. The targets are in some cases highly ambitious, and this will require an all-hands-on-deck approach.
- So, where is the climate action funding in council's 2021 budget? Does it align with the recommendations of Energy Evolution? What funding commitments run counter to the objectives of Energy Evolution (e.g., highway widening).
- An ambitious new Official Plan is critical to the success of our climate plan. Our land use policy is our climate policy, so we need council to be ambitious when it comes to creating dense, mixed-use neighbourhoods with more mobility choice (less car-dependency).