Transportation accounts for more than 50% of the total energy use and emissions in the West Kootenays. The Big Moves for transportation are electrifying passenger vehicles, and shifting beyond the car to shared transportation and active transportation, like cycling and walking. Commercial vehicles are a big gap, since there are no timelines for commercial vehicle electrification in BC.
- Coordinate strategy for Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure
- Support coordination of transportation information to make it easier to combine ridesharing, car sharing, active transportation, and park and ride.
- Advocate to the Province for a timeline for electrification of commercial vehicles
Buildings account for the second highest amount of emissions, and in some communities they account for more energy use than cars. The Big Move strategies for buildings are to help community members reduce energy use in existing buildings by one-third, and to gradually increase the standard for new buildings to be 80% more efficient. Incentive and education programs are an important part of these strategies, which can avoid nearly 400 tonnes of carbon pollution from 2020 to 2050. Natural gas accounts for most of the remaining non-renewable energy for buildings, since there is not a clear path to meeting the existing demand for natural gas with a renewable replacement.
- Regional collaboration to supporting community members in improving the efficiency of their homes
- Coordinate timing and support for higher standards for new buildings
- Advocate to the Province for a building standard for energy retrofits
Organic waste that goes to the landfill and produces methane gas accounts for 7% of current greenhouse gas emissions. A regional collaboration to create composting facilities is underway. Meanwhile, reducing food waste and increasing backyard composting are also important actions. Finally, capturing the methane gasses from existing landfills (and ideally making into renewable natural gas). Regional composting facilities have the advantage of being easier for community members, and also addressing waste from commercial and institutional sources like restaurants and hospitals, many of which do not have access to composting facilities.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, generating more renewable energy has the least potential to reduce carbon emissions and eliminate non-renewable energy. Renewable energy contributes only 1/200th of our region’s potential carbon reduction. That’s because the most abundant and accessible renewable energy is electricity, which our region already has a surplus of. Nevertheless, there are opportunities to generate heat from renewable sources that can be distributed, and localized generating capacity could help to reduce the vulnerability of the electrical grid in rural areas if provincial policy allowed it. Meanwhile, rooftop solar panels on homes and businesses can reduce stress on the electrical grid and save money for owners.
- Explore renewable energy opportunities like bioenergy, microhydro, geothermal, and solar
- Collaborate across the region to coordinate purchases of solar panels in order to save money on bulk pricing
- Advocate to the province of BC for community-based renewable energy facilities to have access to the electrical grid
The Big Picture
By working together wherever possible and committing to key actions, local governments can make big steps toward 100% renewable energy. Taking these actions will reduce carbon pollution significantly. To get to 100% renewable energy will require changes to policy and technology that will address emissions from commercial vehicles (including trucks, vans, and SUVs) and from natural gas. In addition, in order to move to an energy system that relies more on renewable electricity, the region’s electrical grid will need to be improved. Windstorms, snow storms, and wildfire cause interruptions to electrical service, and climate change is likely to make these problems worse.