CLIMATE ACTION

The climate is changing.  As our Mayor Victor Cumming states, there is an ‘urgency and importance of climate change’ that requires us to lessen our impact on the environment by reducing emissions and prepare for the changes that are coming quickly. 

Climate Action planning is underway in the City of Vernon.  The City’s Official Community Plan acknowledges that climate change is happening and sets goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  City Council has re-affirmed the City’s commitment to address this by recently joining the Federation of Canadian Municipalities “Partner’s for Climate Protection” Program and undertaking a Climate Action Plan.  The Climate Action Advisory Committee (see below) has been created to provide input and assist staff. 

Check back to this website and www.engagevernon.ca for updates on the planning process.  Contact us at sustainability@vernon.ca.

Climate Action Planning

Planning for Climate Change involves many components that impact all of us.  Below is more information. 

Reducing Emissions and Preparing for Impacts

These are the two major components to planning for climate change. Preparing for impacts (adaptation) will reduce harm to people, objects, and activities from climate change.  This includes activities such as preparing for more severe weather events.  Reducing emissions (mitigation) are steps to decrease the emissions that create greenhouse gases which are the driving force behind a changing climate. This includes requiring more energy efficient buildings, switching from gas heat to electric heat, as well as supporting and encouraging increased use of electric vehicles and alternative forms of transportation (biking, walking and public transit). 

Climate, Weather, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Weather is what we experience day to day, such as rain, snow, wind and temperature.  Climate is the long term patterns of weather, such as increased average temperatures, and changing frequency, intensity or duration of weather events.  A changing climate includes hotter summers, dryer summers, erratic weather and more frequent or intense storms.  Other impacts include smaller snow packs, and changes to stream flow, which for example can result in drought, forest fires and water shortages in the summer. All of these events will have damaging effects to people, property and economies, such as negative impacts to the tourism economy or damage from fires and flooding. 

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, created by the burning of fossil fuels, are contributing to changing the global climate.  As they are released into the atmosphere and build up, the capture heat and cause the planet to warm.  Carbon dioxide (C02 is the most important of the greenhouse gases and scientists have found that it is higher now than any other time in the past 400,000 years, and this increased has happened in the past 100 years.  97% of the worlds climate scientists agree that human activities are the cause of this increase!

To reduce the possibly devastating impacts of this and slow climate change on the earth, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced significantly.   The below pie chart shows Vernon’s current sources of GHGs:

Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the City of Vernon

The City's current goal is a 54% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (of 2012 amounts) in Vernon by the year 2050.  Further and faster reductions in a shorter amount of time will be necessary here, and beyond, if climate change is to be slowed.  

Climate Action Planning - Process

City Council endorsed a climate action planning process for the City of Vernon in March 2019.  This process will see creation of a new Climate Action Plan over the course of 2019 and 2020.  A draft vision is that

“In 2050, Vernon is a leader in climate action, with significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and is resilient to the changing climate”

The climate action planning process involves engaging with the community, hiring experts, and working together to form an action plan.  The process will be broken into several components:

Emissions Inventory – The greenhouse gas emissions inventory will look at our current state of greenhouse gas emissions, where they are coming from, and what reductions need to be made. 

Risk and Vulnerability Assessment – Using climate projection data and models of future climate, this process will look to identify what climate hazards exist and how they will impact the City, including impacts on people, physical assets, and economic function. 

Impact Reviews and Action Identification – adaptation and mitigation actions will be identified following an analysis of all information gathered. 

Public Engagement – There will be several points along the way for the public and stakeholders to be involved and provide input into the planning process, through the use of surveys, workshops, public sessions, and the Engage Vernon website.  More details will be provided throughout the process. 

Council Consideration – Once all information is compiled, a draft plan will be prepared by staff and presented to Council for consideration.  Implementation of the plan will begin immediately. 

Implementation – The Climate Action will set out what needs to happen and changes that need to be made.  Following completion of the Climate Action Plan, updates to the Official Community Plan and other bylaws/policies, as identified in the Action Plan, will be made.  This process will begin immediately upon completion of the Climate Action Plan. 

Climate Action Advisory Committee

The Climate Action Advisory Committee (Formerly the Climate Action Task Force) was created by Council in 2018 to provide a means for community experts and volunteers to assist staff and Council in the process of preparing the Climate Action Plan, as well as things we can do to prepare for impacts and reduce emissions.  The Climate Action Advisory Committee is made of 9 volunteers and one member of Council.  They meet on a monthly basis. 

Climate Ambassadors Program

The Climate Ambassadors Program allows volunteers in the community to help City Staff and the Climate Action Advisory Committee share information about climate change, what needs to be done in Vernon, and what is already being done.  

Climate Ambassadors are trained and then give presentations and information to the friends and peers.  If you are interested in becoming a Climate Ambassador, contact sustainability@vernon.ca 

What else can I do?

There are many ways you can help:

  • Participate in the planning process by attending an open house, workshop, or completing a survey.  Check this website and www.engagevernon.ca for updates.
  • Walk, bike, or take public transit.
  • Purchase an electric vehicle.
  • Carpool.
  • Invest in energy efficient upgrades to your home.
  • Turn down the heat in your home.
  • Reduce your waste.  Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle!
  • Share knowledge with your friends, family, co-workers and neighbours.
  • Get involved by becoming a Climate Ambassador.
Other Information and Reference Links
Canada's Climate Action Plan

 

CleanBC

Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change through Conservation of Nature

 

Vernon's Recent Climate Action reports
Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program

The City is a participating municipality in the provincial Climate Action Charter.  We report on and demonstrate annual progress towards goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the Province of British Columbia.  

Since 2010, Vernon has reported annually on the City's corporate and community wide climate action and sustainability initiatives. For the 2016 reporting year, the City has achieved "Level 3: Accelerating Progress on Charter Commitments" recognition as part of the Provincial-UBCM Green Communities Committee (GCC) Climate Action Recognition Program for BC local governments.