Emissions from city snow removal equipment pushed the city’s emissions significantly higher in 2017. File photo.

Emissions from city snow removal equipment pushed the city’s emissions significantly higher in 2017. File photo.

Snow-clearing pushes Abbotsford’s CO2 emissions skyward

Emissions higher than ever, despite goal of 40% reduction by 2040

A chilly January and February pushed the City of Abbotsford’s 2017 greenhouse gas emissions to their highest point since recording began more than a decade ago.

This week, the city released its annual emissions report, which is required in order for the municipality to receive gas tax funds from the province. (The report documents the municipality’s corporate emissions – those generated by city staff, buildings, and cars. It doesn’t count emissions by residents or private businesses.)

Although the city has aimed to reduce its emissions by 40 per cent by 2040, the report shows emissions increased 13 per cent last year to 6,360 tonnes of carbon dioxide and its equivalents, when contractors are factored in. That figure appears to be the highest since 2006, although The News was unable to find data from 2011.

Staff blamed the rise on the need to heat city facilities and to fuel up its snow-clearing equipment. Indeed, emissions by the city’s fleet of vehicles rose more than 20 per cent from the previous year.

The winter of 2016-17 took a significant toll on the city’s efforts to curb emissions. When a previous city report revealed emissions rose between 2016 and 2015, staff attributed that jump to the November and December of 2016.

Prior to that record-setting winter, the city had seen a few years of modest greenhouse gas reductions, although corporate emissions remain above 2006 levels. The recent jump in emissions have also masked success in a couple of areas.

Emissions from street lighting and traffic signals are half of what they were in 2012. Water and sewer management emissions have also plunged.

Emissions
Infogram

Around half of all the city’s emissions are generated by its fleet of vehicles. Another quarter comes from heating recreation facilities, with the remaining quarter roughly divided between city buildings, contractor emissions and water and sewer management.

Last year, the city was rewarded Level 3 recognition acknowledging “accelerating progress” on its Climate Action Charter commitments.

That allowed the city to boast it’s a “green community.”

But the report shows the city still has a way to go to match 45 other local governments that have achieved carbon neutrality. They include large cities like Vancouver and Victoria, smaller communities like Ashcroft and Keremeos, and Abbotsford’s neighbour to the west, the Township of Langley.