This post was contributed by Laura McFarlan.
Easy to Think You’re Alone
Even as a student in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo, I’m always wondering how much of a difference my environmentally conscious decisions are really making? If I turned off the lights every time I left the house, hung my clothes instead of putting them in the dryer or took the bus instead of driving how much of a difference was I really making? Am I really making an impact and reducing global greenhouse gas emissions or do large industries have to change?
That was my old way of thinking
Climate action plans have sprung up everywhere across the world. With 80% of all greenhouse gas emissions coming from the burning of fossil fuels, it’s clear to see where the focus of these action plans should be. From the Paris Agreement to Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan, people across the world are putting climate change at the forefront of their minds. As greenhouse gas emissions increase with growing populations, we have the responsibility to innovate new, more efficient technologies and reduce our emissions globally.
Now the real question is: How am I involved?
HOW WATERLOO REGION GOT INVOLVED
It all started with a few simple ideas in 2010: installing electric charging stations at Conestoga Mall, the Reep House for Sustainable Living opened its doors for the first time to showcase water and energy saving ideas, and the City of Kitchener installed Canadas largest solar roof. As the ideas started building and passion for environmental sustainability across the region grew, a Climate Action Plan or ClimateActionWR was developed and passed! Since 2013, Waterloo Region has been committed to decreasing GHG emissions by 6% from 2010 to 2020.
The road so far
After thinking for so long that my simple environmentally conscious decisions weren’t making a difference, I can see that they are! The steps my neighbours and I are taking have an impact. Since 2010 The Region of Waterloo has already reduced carbon emissions by 5.2%, meaning it’s not impossible for us to foresee a day where even with a growing population we can continue to do our part in decreasing carbon emissions through simple everyday actions.
The reduction of carbon emissions has come from a variety of ideas, such as:
- TravelWise trip planning software
- Community Bikeshare access growing
- Community CarShare expansion
- Improved Home Reno Rebates available to all homes heated by oil, natural gas, electricity, propane or a wood-burning system
- Leadership of businesses in the Regional Sustainability Initiative
So far the Region has taken the equivalent of 58 000 cars off the road and that can keep growing. Greenhouse gas emissions from cars account for almost 50% of all emissions in the Region of Waterloo! Making effective and reliable transit a key factor in decreasing our emissions.
In 2021 another official update in regards to the specific CO2 emission reduction will be released to see if we’ve met out 6% target. Can’t wait until 2021 for the next report? Don’t worry! Check out the bi-yearly updates.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
With Waterloo Region expected to grow by 20-30% over the next 15 years, it is a pivotal time for current residents to get onboard with awesome ideas!
ClimateActionWR, a collaboration led by Reep Green Solutions, and Sustainable Waterloo Region, ClimateActionWR, is looking for your ideas on updating our targets and how we can work together to reach them. Be sure to participate in the engagement opportunities over the next several months!