The City has approved a Green Fleet Strategy with an eye to becoming carbon neutral by 2012; and to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent below 2008 levels by 2020, and by 80 per cent below 2008 levels by 2050.
To meet these goals the City says it must “aggressively” cut emissions as much as possible and purchase carbon offsets to balance its remaining emissions.
“This is one step in moving us along that line,” said Mayor Kerry Cook.
To date, Williams Lake, along with other municipalities in B.C., has made a voluntary commitment under the Climate Action Charter. Nigel Whitehead, the City’s carbon neutral planning assistant, says part of the incentive to reduce emissions is that communities that do will receive a rebate on the carbon tax they pay.
Whitehead says the province has delayed the deadline for communities to become carbon neutral and says if municipalities can demonstrate they are progressing to becoming neutral by measuring their emissions, working to reduce emissions, and reporting on their progress, which demonstrates a decline in emissions, that will suffice for now.
The City’s Green Fleet strategy is one way to move in this direction before the province officially mandates it and requires carbon offsets to be purchased.
The strategy identifies actions to be taken by staff and managers in order to reduce fleet emissions. It allows for the City to make an organized and directed approach to improving the overall efficiency of the City’s fleet. It has the side benefit of reducing fuel and maintenance costs, improving the resiliency of the fleet, and promoting environmentally conscious actions to the community.
It includes, for example, investment in emission reduction through driver training, alternative technology vehicles, the use of alternative fuels and alternative transportation, as well as the implementation of idle-reduction technology.
Coun. Surinderpal Rathor credited the City for leading by example.
“We are on the right track,” he said.
Coun. Sue Zacharias noted she would like to see the City’s fleet reduced in size by moving business out to the private sector.
“I would like to see us work towards putting work out to the private sector so we’re not carrying such a large fleet of equipment.”
The fleet is the largest emitter of the City’s corporate emissions responsible for 349 tonnes of the City’s 763 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, according to 2009 data.
Whitehead says aside from the strategy the City is drafting a corporate carbon neutral plan that is directed at addressing the emissions of their corporate operations including buildings, street lighting, sewer, water and waste collection.
Whitehead adds there are plenty of lessons for the public to learn about reducing their own emissions from the City’s strategy.
“Reducing your emissions comes down to increasing your efficiency. So if you are increasing your efficiency you will be paying less for fuel so it’s a savings at the end of the day.”