Kelowna has experienced the havoc that climate change can cause to a community, with back-to-back years of record spring precipitation causing historic flooding followed by hot dry summers that contributed to droughts and wildfires (2017 and 2018).
A recently completed climate projections study for the Okanagan shows that as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue to grow, changes like these will become more common in the next three decades with hotter, drier summers; warmer winters; increased precipitation in all seasons except summer; and a shifting of the seasons. For more information on how these changes have and will impact our community, read the 2017 Community Trends Report: A Changing Climate.
Reducing GHG emissions
Climate change affects everyone, and everyone must do their part to reduce GHG emissions to limit the extent and impacts of climate change. Kelowna is leading the change by example, demonstrating our commitment to reduce corporate GHG emissions and create efficient compact communities.
The Community Climate Action Plan and the Corporate Strategic Energy Management Plan identify new opportunities for both the community and corporation to reduce emissions. Here are a few examples of the exciting things we’re working on, or have recently completed, to influence and lead energy and emission reductions in our community:
- Energy Step Code requirements
- Official Community Plan update
- Transportation Master Plan
- LED Street Light Conversion
Finally, we report to the Province each year on the numerous initiatives we’re doing to reduce GHG emissions as a corporation (e.g. energy efficient upgrades and changes to fleet) as well as what we’re doing to help reduce community GHG emissions (e.g. expansion of sidewalks and bike lanes, planting trees and waste reduction programs).
In both 2018 and 2019, the City of Kelowna received Level 3 recognition from the Provincial Union of B.C. Municipalities Green Communities Committee Climate Action Recognition Program for commitments toward addressing climate change issues in our community. A Level 3 designation is awarded to local governments for accelerating progress on B.C. Climate Action Charter commitments.
Ways residents can help take action on climate change
We all have a role to play in addressing climate change. Simple changes in our lives, like the examples listed below, can help reduce emissions and conserve energy.
- Use an alternate mode of transportation: walk, bike, carpool or use public transit to get to where you need to be. Visit smarttrips.ca to learn more.
- Reduce idling: turn the engine off or pull over and park if you’ll be stopped for a period of time
- Adopt fuel efficient driving techniques: combine your trips into one outing, follow speed limits and conduct regular car maintenance
- Consider a fuel-efficient or electric vehicle for your next set of wheels
- Reduce your home electricity and natural gas consumption: turn lights off when exiting a room, lower the thermostat when you’re asleep or out of the house and invest in energy efficient appliances
- Visit kelowna.ca/energy to learn about opportunities to make your home more energy efficient.