Co-benefits of greenhouse gas reductions

March 19, 2015

This is a picture of a community garden.

I attended a public consultation last night on Ontario’s Climate Change Discussion Paper. It was a full house with lots of informed input. Fortunately, there wasn’t a climate change denier to be heard – apparently that was not the case in other communities.

If the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change takes an integrated approach to climate change mitigation our province will realize many co-benefits – especially when you look at the essential role of communities in achieving carbon reductions. Cities influence almost 60% of Canada’s energy consumption and 50% of greenhouse gas emissions; they are also responsible for over 60% of infrastructure – without them on board, the best plan will fall short.

Energy efficiency is an obvious co-benefit; changing the economics of production leads to increased global competitiveness, market differentiation and business retention and expansion. Opportunities for new job growth in the energy sector are already being realized and would grow.

Lower energy bills for people means greater housing affordability and less money leaving communities. Increased system efficiency reduces waste and could put more electric vehicles on the road with the right provincial strategy. Increased system reliability that is realized through distributed energy improves the energy security of a community. Better urban design improves air quality and builds more walkable and connected communities.

A smart Climate Change Action Plan will achieve its targets and maximize these and other co-benefits.