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Greenhouse gas emissions in New West drop faster than expected

City of New Westminster greenhouse gas emissions: “This is 23.5 per cent lower than what would have been expected.”
New Westminster City Hall
New Westminster is crediting its Seven Bold Steps for helping to reduce GHG emissions.

The City of New Westminster’s greenhouse gas emissions are dropping at a faster pace than expected.

Staff recently updated council about the city’s corporate greenhouse gas emissions.

“I was quite astounded in reading it,” said Coun. Nadine Nakagawa. “I had to read it several times, that it's 23.5 per cent lower than where we would have been had we not done the Seven Bold Steps. I think that's astounding work by the city. I think that's good reason to have done the climate declaration.”

The city has reduced corporate greenhouse gas emissions by 28.7 per cent from the 2010 baseline year, said a report to council.

“This is 23.5 per cent lower than what would have been expected without the climate emergency declaration, and exceeds the city’s previous community energy and emissions plan (2021) target by 4.6 per cent,” said the report. “The city is actively working to accelerate these reductions and achieve the target set by Bold Step 1: carbon free corporation, whereby the city will strive to be net-zero by 2030.”

In 2019, city council declared a climate emergency and endorsed Seven Bold Steps to be taken by the city in response to the climate emergency, with the goal of moving the city toward meeting the greenhouse gas targets set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“A lot of people asked me afterwards if it's binding in some way, and of course, it was not, but it did lead to this work. And that's an incredible result,” Nakagawa said. “Obviously, let's not applaud ourselves too hard, because there's still lots of work to go towards the 2030 goal, but I just really thought that deserved to be highlighted because that is a tremendous reduction.”

Divya Gupta, the city’s energy and emissions specialist, said provincial changes contributed to the reduction.

“That helped us reduce our building emissions, control our building emissions,” he told council. “And given that 2021 was partially a COVID year still going on; we don't know that, but most facilities opened with a limited capacity.”

Gupta said the city was able to perform “exceedingly well” in 2021 and is continuously trying to improve on what it’s doing.

Mayor Jonathan Cote said he thinks council would benefit from more detailed information about the reasons for the reduced emissions.

“I'd love to see for future council reports, even more details as to where did those numbers come from, how did we achieve those goals there,” he said. “To really kind of break that down. Because, I think, not only would council be interested, but I think the community would be interested.”

Cote wondered if the closure of Canada Games Pool contributed to the city’s reduced emissions and questioned if emissions would rise once the new aquatic centre opens, even though it will be a carbon-neutral facility.

“I don't think there will be any jump in overall emissions in terms of electricity,” Gupta said.

The report noted that the city received $285,082 from the province’s Local Government Climate Action Program in September 2022. The program aims to help local governments that have signed on to the B.C. Climate Action Charter to advance climate actions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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