Activist optimistic about Regina's 'ambitious' framework for net-zero emissions by 2050

The City of Regina released its long-gestating Energy and Sustainability Framework this week. City council will vote on it by the end of the month.

City council will vote on Energy and Sustainability Framework at the end of March

Yvette Crane is a member of of Regina Energy Transition and says she's happy with the Energy and Sustainability Framework the City of Regina released this week. (Alexander Quon/CBC News)

A framework that is supposed to help Regina reach net-zero emissions by 2050 is being met by optimism from at least one environmental group in Saskatchewan's capital. 

The City of Regina's proposed Energy and Sustainability Framework was released this week. 

On Wednesday, Regina Energy Transition, a group that calls for the city to address climate change, called the program ambitious but attainable. 

"That's what we need to do. We're behind the ball," said Yvette Crane, a member of Regina Energy Transition. "Other cities have been on this already, so we need to go." 

Crane said she was overjoyed by the clear and precise language used in the document, which describes inaction on global warming and a changing climate as having "catastrophic" consequences. 

"We get discouraged when people dance around the issue or deny climate change," Crane said. 

Regina City Council still needs to approve the plan. It's set to come before a special executive council meeting on March 24. Council will then vote to approve the plan on March 30. (Alexander Quon/CBC News)

The Energy and Sustainability Framework was first proposed in 2018, when city council voted unanimously for Regina to address climate change and become a 100 per cent renewable energy community by 2050.   

Four years later the framework is finally ready.

It lays out how the entire city will reach net-zero and ensure that all electricity, heating, cooling and transportation will be powered by renewable energy or offset by reduced greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere. 

Other cities including Halifax, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Guelph and Charlottetown have developed similar plans. 

Regina's document is headlined by seven so-called "big moves" that the city needs to take: 

  • Building retrofits.
  • Clean heating.
  • Net-zero new construction.
  • Renewable energy generation.
  • Low-emissions vehicles.
  • Increase active transportation and transit use.
  • Clean and re-energize industry.

There's little doubt that the implementing the framework will take work, Crane said, but it must be done. It's a sentiment echoed by the document itself. 

"Action must now occur at a scale and pace that will present both challenges and opportunities for Regina," the executive summary of the framework reads. 

LISTEN| Hear how the City of Regina has a plan to become carbon neutral by 2050: 

The plan was developed by Sustainability Solutions Group, which has completed more than 80 climate change plans in partnership with whatIf? Technologies.

Brittany MacLean, a senior consultant with Sustainability Solutions Group and lead analyst on the project, said the framework was developed based on the city's emissions in 2016. 

At that time, Regina's emissions were around 5 million tonnes, or 23.5 tonnes per capita. 

"[That] is one of the highest we have seen per capita emissions rates we've seen in in the communities we've worked in across Canada," MacLean said during an interview with The Morning Edition with Stefani Langenegger on Wednesday. 

However, the city and its residents should not be discouraged by where they are starting, MacLean said, as the technology to make change is available. 

The proposed plan is expected to reduce the city's emissions by 52 per cent and cut energy consumption by 24 per cent. 

So far, Regina has put $6 million toward advancing municipal actions, but the entire framework projects a city-wide investment of $12.5 billion by 2050.

The framework would bring the community in stride with the global climate mitigation targets. In Oct. 2021, Canada and other countries — as part of the G20 intergovernmental forum — agreed to keep global warming below 1.5 C of what the temperature was before industrialization. At the time, it was recorded at 1.1 C.

Regina's plan still has to go in front of city council to be approved.

On Wednesday afternoon, Coun. Cheryl Stadnichuk said she's happy about the proposed plan. 

"It's something that's been in the works for a long time and we don't have a lot of time. We need to take action now," she said. 

A special executive council meeting is scheduled for March 24. Council will then vote on the framework at the end of the month.

Crane said she's confidant that a majority of the councillors will support the project. 

With files from CBC's The Morning Edition with Stefani Langenegger, Dayne Patterson


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