Committee approves climate change master plan

OTTAWA – The city’s Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Waste and Waste Management approved new targets today (Dec. 17) to reduce emissions by 100 per cent by 2050.

“To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has called for a 100-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” city staff released in a statement today. “To align with that target, the city’s Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management today recommended Council approve new targets to reduce emissions by 100 per cent – by 2040 as a corporation and by 2050 as a community.”

The Climate Change Master Plan unveiled today will help Ottawa meet the new targets. Over the next five years, the city would continue to implement Energy Evolution, develop a climate resiliency strategy, apply a climate lens to the new Official Plan and infrastructure, pilot corporate carbon budgets and encourage community action. Staff would come back to the committee by mid-2020 with details on 20 additional projects to help reduce emissions.

According to the city’s latest greenhouse gas inventories, emissions decreased by 14 per cent in Ottawa between 2012 and 2018. The city’s corporate emissions, which account for about five per cent of Ottawa’s total emissions, decreased by 36 per cent. Staff would provide annual reports on emissions, progress towards the carbon-neutral target and the master plan.

“The committee also recommended council approve the new Tree Protection By-law, which would come into effect May 2020,” city staff said. “The new by-law would consolidate two existing by-laws, streamlining regulation and enforcement. Other changes include requiring compensation for permitted tree removals, implementing new fines for tree removal without a permit and changes to internal processes to ensure greater consideration of trees earlier in planning processes.”

 Two new forestry inspectors, funded through increased revenue from the new fees, would enforce the by-law and monitor tree protection, while a new forester would handle tree issues in infill development.

Staff would return to the committee in late 2020 with further recommendations to protect existing trees, along with reviewing the need for strategies to protect heritage trees and rural woodlands next to the urban boundary.

City council will consider these items at its meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 29.