Kelowna has experienced first-hand, the havoc that climate change can cause to a community. In 2017, Kelowna experienced one of its most extreme weather years with record levels of spring precipitation causing historic flooding followed by hot, dry summer that contributed to a devastating wildfire season as summarized in the 2017 Community Trends Report: A Changing Climate. 2018 also started with extremes, with snow pack levels across the Okanagan well above normal causing the Emergency Operations Center to be activated for multiple weeks to address localized flooding and prepare for possible larger impacts. These types of extreme weather events are expected to occur more regularly as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue to grow.
Reducing GHG Emissions
Climate change affects everyone, and everyone must do their part to mitigate 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 a Corporate Energy and GHG Emissions Plan identify new opportunities for both the community and corporation to reduce emissions. Just a few examples of the exciting things we are working that influence and lead energy and emission reductions in our community include:
- 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 are doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a corporation (e.g. energy efficient upgrades and changes to fleet) as well as what we are doing to help reduce community GHG emissions (e.g. expansion of sidewalks and bikelanes, planting trees and waste reduction programs).
In both 2018 and 2019 the City of Kelowna has 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. Through a number of daily actions and simple changes in our lives, we can all be active in helping reduce emissions and conserve energy.
Here are a few examples of things you can do at home today to help address climate change:
- Use an alternate mode of transportation: walk, bike, carpool or use public transit to get to where you need to be
- 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 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 are asleep or out of the house and invest in energy efficient appliances
- Take advantage of the number of energy rebates available when renovating or building a home