Quick Starts for Elected Officials
Elected Officials can engage staff in taking climate action with a few simple strategies for target setting, leadership and asset protection. Find ways to save money, show leadership, improve community health and create local jobs by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
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Set a Target for Reducing Greenhouse Gases
Add an emissions reduction target to your Official Community Plan or Regional Growth Strategy. Assign clear responsibility and authority to staff for achieving your targets. See targets workbook at toolkit.bc.ca/eoq.
Find out how much greenhouse gas your community produces. What are the largest sources of emissions? There is a Community Energy and Emissions Inventory (CEEI) for every local government in B.C.Identify three things your government will do this year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Develop a Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP) to decide how best to reduce community-wide emissions and energy use.
Local governments all over British Columbia are taking innovative approaches to greenhouse gas reduction. Look at ways to reduce the “carbon footprint” from your local government’s operations.
Conduct an energy audit of existing local government buildings and facilities. Identify where you can save the most money and reduce emissions.
Convert streetlights and indoor lights to high efficiency bulbs. Don’t forget to turn off lights, computers, copiers, etc. when not in use. Check out BC Hydro Power Smart. Get an E3 fleet review to increase fuel efficiency, reduce emissions and reduce costs. Encourage staff to take E3 driver training to reduce emissions.
Carpool or take transit to meetings, and encourage staff to do the same.
Look at ways to capture and use heat and energy from “waste.”
Encourage, enable or require energy savings throughout your community.
Provide green building incentives or rebates for energy-efficient buildings. Ensure your bylaws make it easy for residents and businesses to use “green” energy sources such as geothermal and solar energy for hot water heating.
Create disincentives. Set higher rates for water use – less water consumed means less energy to treat and pump water and wastewater.
Set requirements for energy efficiency. Establish development permit areas for greenhouse gas reduction and energy/water conservation. Implement a community anti-idling bylaw to improve air quality and reduce emissions.
Educate and encourage residents to take action.
Develop an active transportation plan that provides people with alternatives to single-occupant vehicles, and encourages healthy living.
Forests and wetlands act as “carbon sinks.” Agricultural lands provide local food, supporting community jobs and reducing the distance that food travels from farm to plate.
Protect and plant trees to provide shade and windbreaks for buildings. This reduces energy use and absorbs carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas).
Protect wetlands and treed areas in and around communities. These “carbon sinks” absorb carbon dioxide. reducing greenhouse gases. Protect and provide places where people can grow food, even in high density developments. Community gardens, green roofs and parks all offer food-growing potential.
Protect agricultural land, and encourage local food growers and food processing businesses. This supports local jobs, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions as food has less distance to travel.
Work with your staff and community to achieve your emissions reductions. Think long term.
Plan ahead. Update accounting systems to track carbon when entering your fuel bills – this provides an emissions inventory without a lot of extra work.
Dedicate budget and staff time. Allocate resources to achieving emissions reduction – it can be cheaper to take action now than to wait for later. Engage staff in development of new ideas and approaches.
Create learning opportunities. Find out about BC Hydro’s funding for Community Energy Managers.
Involve key stakeholders and the public. Citizens can provide creative input into emissions reduction planning and can help with implementation.
Prepare for future climates. Consider the future impacts of warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, drought, storms, etc. in all land-use decisions.
Link energy reduction to other community strategies. Encourage “green jobs” (such as energy assessors or specialists in energy-efficiency home retrofits) as part of your economic development strategy or community social planning.
The Power Smart Sustainable Communities Program helps local governments meet the challenge by providing expertise, education, program support and financial incentives. http://www.bchydro.com/powersmart/ps_communities/local_government.html
Do you Have Questions?
Send your questions to toolkit.bc.ca/contact.
Resource list This is a list of useful weblinks that will provide Local Governments with information and funding opportunities related to Climate Action. This is not an exhaustive list and will be updated as new information is gathered.