Sudbury approves plan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
Sudbury city council voted in favour of the Community Energy and Emissions Plan
Sudbury city council has approved a plan that will guide the city toward its goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The commitment means that by 2050, the city would produce no more greenhouse gas emissions than it is able to offset through other measures, such as reforestation.
The Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP), which councillors unanimously approved this week, lays out actions and priorities for the city over the next 30 years, including significantly decreasing community water use, retrofitting buildings, electrifying the city's bus fleet and increasing reforestation efforts.
"This is the most important thing, dealing with climate change, that we will likely deal with in our entire lifetimes," said Coun. Geoff McCausland.
"This challenging time will unfortunately probably not look as challenging when we get a few years down the road. So, let's act now."
Working on implementation plan
The plan has 18 goals that fall under eight strategic areas. Jennifer Babin-Fenske, one of the lead city staffers on the plan, said every action is important, but noted transportation and heating homes are the largest contributors to energy use and emissions.
"This means that the biggest impact we can have is to alter our modes of transportation, and increase the efficiency of buildings, specifically residential buildings," said Babin-Fenske.
Babin-Fenske said the city has already started implementing some parts of plan, such as construction of the Paris-Notre Dame bikeway, and converting city streetlights to LED bulbs.
Now that city staff have approved the plan, city staff will come back to council with an implementation plan in December. Babin-Fenske says the city will plan the implementation in five year increments, given the "uncertainty" that comes with a 30 year plan.
"We aren't sure what technology will be coming or going, new funding opportunities, or even new social opinions of them," she said.
Everyone's actions are required
Ahead of the meeting, a number of organizations and community groups wrote to council voicing their support for the plan, among them, the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury. Co-chair Naomi Grant was in the packed city council chambers in May, 2019, when council declared a climate emergency.
"We have heard many times since then, 'When is that declaration going to turn into real action?'" Grant said.
She said she was glad to see the completed plan, which she says is "doable" and will benefit the community, by improving cost of living through lower heating costs and better access to sustainable transportation options.
While Sudbury may be just one small city, Grant says its plan is no less significant.
"If you're thinking of being a small fish in a very large global problem, I think it's helpful to think about it this way: everyone's actions are required," Grant said.
"If we don't do our part, we will fail. Everyone needs to do their part, big and small."