January 22nd, 2021

City council to get more ambitious about greenhouse gas reductions

By Kalinowski, Tim on March 10, 2020.

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


City council has voted to set an even more ambitious target for greenhouse gas emission reductions in City operations than recommended by its own climate-change advisers.

Originally council had been told during last week’s Community Issues Committee meeting that a reduction of 35 per cent below 2018 levels by 2030 would be easy to meet, and would likely be exceeded by changes already taking place with the City’s landfill gas capture project, which is set to be completed by 2021.

The portion of that reduction the City would be directly accountable for was 20 per cent with the other 15 per cent coming from federal and provincial initiatives to shut down the province’s coal-fired power plants.

Coun. Jeffrey Coffman proposed an amendment during Monday’s council meeting which would double the City’s own greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to 40 per cent below 2018 levels by 2030, making for a total potential reduction of 55 per cent to City operations in the next 10 years.

Coffman implored his fellow councillors to be visionary, aspire for more than the low-hanging fruit offered by the 20 per cent target, and to “reach for the stars.” Coun. Jeff Carlson spoke out in opposition to setting such an ambitious target, feeling it might be too unrealistic and difficult for City staff to achieve.

Coffman’s amended target passed by a vote of 6-3 anyway.

Council then passed the fully revised motion as amended, which included the 55 per cent target, by a final vote of 8-1; with only Coun. Blaine Hyggen voting against setting the final target.

Coffman said he was proud of the way council showed environmental leadership on this issue.

“What was being proposed was to consider 15 per cent (greenhouse gas reduction) coming from the federal and provincial governments,” he said. “The reality, in my mind, is we are responsible for our own organization, we are responsible for our own community; so we need to lead this change. We need to lead on the reductions, and we need to lead the incentive to actually achieve environmental targets in our community.”

Coffman said even if the City ultimately falls short of its own internal 40 per cent reduction goal, there is still something profound to be gained.

“If we set a target of 40 per cent in 10 years, and we only get to 32 per cent – well, that’s 12 per cent more than what we were actually going to give (initially) as an organization, and that’s great,” he said. “Anything we do to create environmental efficiencies for our community and for the planet is going to be a bonus.”

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