Balancing climate action priorities

May 17, 2021



Fossil fuel consumption accounts for approximately 70 to 75% of a community’s greenhouse gas emissions. So, if you want to make an impact on climate change, building a more efficient and clean energy system must by a priority. Energy related emissions arise from the heating and cooling of our homes and buildings, the powering of industries and the movement of people and goods.

Community energy planning pays attention to both direct and indirect energy-related emission. Direct emissions are released by community activities like heating our homes with natural gas or driving a car that is fuelled by gasoline. Indirect emissions arise from the electricity we purchase which is generated outside of the community.

Community energy planning might also consider opportunities for non-energy related emissions mitigation like carbon sequestration and other land use measures, increased anaerobic treatment of bio-waste, reduced fugitive (leaks) emissions, and reduced process emissions.

Green infrastructure also offers some climate benefits. Recent reports from the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices and Smart Prosperity Institute highlight Canadian research that is beginning to quantify the benefits of urban trees, wetlands, and green roofs in the fight against climate change. Not everyone welcomes the idea of quantifying the value of natural systems. However, assigning a dollar value to a tree might just engage a broader audience in the conversation as does showing people how energy efficiency can save them on their energy bills.

Climate change is a wicked problem with many solutions. Good data is key to ensure resources are efficiently and effectively allocated to those activities that will have the biggest and most enduring impact.