A new academic study assessing the quality of municipal climate change plans places Saanich and Victoria in the middle of pack.
The study published in the journal Climatic Change ranks the respective plans of Saanich and Victoria 31st and 33rd in terms of overall quality. Kingston, ON., topped the list of 63 surveyed communities, with New Westminster, B.C., ranking last.
The study — which describes itself as “a first attempt at assessing the quality of Canadian municipal climate change plans” — assesses plans against 46 indicators spread across eight large categories of quality characteristics: fact base, goals, policies, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, inter-organizational coordination, participation, and plan organization and presentation.
The report evaluated Saanich’s Climate Action Plan dated 2010 and Victoria’s Community Energy and Emissions Plan dated 2012.
Saanich’s Climate Action Plan receives generally strong marks in all but two areas: monitoring and evaluation (which the report defines as the “systemic framework” to tracking implementation activities and assessing their outcomes); and participation (which focuses on how the public and various stakeholder groups participate). Compared to Saanich, Victoria scores worse in the categories of fact base, goals, policies, coordination, and organization and presentation, while ahead in the other categories.
Overall, the report finds that Canadian municipalities “prioritize” climate change mitigation over adaption; implementation, monitoring and evaluation appear as relatively aspects of municipal climate change plans; and Canadian municipalities appear to have given insufficient consideration to public participation.
In other words, Canadian municipalities have ambitious goals when it comes to mitigating climate change, but struggle to implement and track those goals, while failing to involve the public. The paper also chides Canadian communities for a lack of specificity, when it comes to the local effects of climate change.
“Almost all plans failed to include an assessment of the municipality’s vulnerability to specific climate change impacts,” it reads.
The report written by Dave Guyadeen of Guelph University and Jason Thistlewood and Daniel Henstra of the University of Waterloo appears as Saanich council Monday receives an update on efforts to update Saanich’s climate action plan.
It calls for an 80 per cent reduction in both corporate and community-wide greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 2050 below 2007 levels as Saanich seeks to become a 100 renewable energy community by 2050.
As of this writing, Saanich will fall well short of this goal. If current policies continue, Saanich will reduce GHGs by nine per cent by 2050.