Calgary

City council approves climate strategy to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050

Calgary city council voted last night to approve a new climate strategy, replacing a 2018 strategy and following council's decision last fall to declare a climate emergency.

$87B price-tag listed; administration says it's not a budget ask but an estimate to get to net-zero

A moonrise over Calgary is seen in this file photo from Sept. 23, 2010. In November 2021, Calgary joined the ranks of Canadian cities that have declared a climate emergency. (© Alan Dyer/AmazingSky.com)

Calgary city council voted Tuesday to approve a new climate strategy, replacing a 2018 strategy and following council's decision last fall to declare a climate emergency.

The plan outlines that numerous actions will need to be taken between now and 2050 to help Calgary reach its climate target of net-zero emissions.

Some councillors questioned the estimate in the strategy that it could take $87 billion dollars in spending by all levels of government, by the private sector and by citizens to reach that target.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said that figure does not relate solely to city taxes — it just outlines the current estimate of the magnitude of the change that's needed to reach the target.

"The question of $87 billion was asked and answered several times today," Gondek said. "That was simply a way for administration to demonstrate that there is significant investment that is needed for Calgary, writ large. This is not money that is required by the City of Calgary alone."

According to the report prepared by city administration, the consequences of climate impacts could increase to as much as $8 billion annually by the 2080s, which would impact all Calgarians but especially vulnerable residents.

"Left unchecked, the impacts of climate change will stretch government and municipal resources, exacerbate inequity, disrupt business operations and damage our environment," the report reads.

The report states that the investments under the plan will be put into mitigation measures such as building retrofits, renewable energy and zero-emissions mobility, and the province's transition to a low-carbon economy could create more than 160,000 jobs in clean technology and generate more than $60 million in economic activity by 2050.

The city said modelling demonstrates that a net-zero emissions future could lead to cumulative energy savings of $60-80 billion for Calgarians by 2050. 

Deborah Yedlin, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, said climate change has become "table stakes for companies and the jurisdictions in which they are based."

"Calgary is no exception. This work sends a signal to the world — and the talent we need to attract to our city — that Calgary is ready to follow through on its climate commitments with action and impact," Yedlin said in a release.

City manager David Duckworth said the climate strategy is like council's strategic direction, adding that the funding plan will come later this fall but a strategy is needed first.

Council voted 9-6 to approve the strategy. 

With the strategy approved, Gondek said city administration can now use it to help develop the city's four-year budget plan. That will be presented to council this November.

With files from Scott Dippel

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