This week, council heard promising news about the positive effects our energy and climate action plans are having on the environment.

The Corporation of the City of Windsor achieved an 8.2 per cent reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions and a 5.7 per cent decrease in our energy consumption in 2018 compared to 2014.

This was largely realized by converting municipal street lights to energy efficient LEDs, introducing electric vehicles to our fleet and cutting down on emissions from our wastewater treatment facilities.

Anyone doubting the value of these single digit declines should consider this: the environmental impact of an 8 per cent reduction in emissions is equal to the carbon stored by 3,395 acres of forest or removing 613 passenger vehicles from the roads for one year.

These findings from the Community and Corporate Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy Monitoring Report presented Monday served as the first update to council on emissions and energy consumption in Windsor since we approved our Community Energy Plan (CEP) in 2017. The plan is our blueprint for combating the effects of climate change and positioning our city as a leader in environmental protection and energy conservation. I invite you to read it in full here.

As you’ll see, the report shows that as a corporation we are off to a promising start, but that we also need to do better as a community to ensure we reach our ambitious, and achievable, goals for 2041.

Our plan outlines a number of strategies to help us reach our targets. Some, like the Active Transportation Master Plan, are already underway to help encourage residents to adopt low and zero-carbon transport. Others, such as the Deep Energy Retrofit Program for Existing Homes that will help reduce energy use and emissions from residences, are works in progress that we expect to be presented to council in 2020.

But the fact is, we can’t do this alone. Climate change is a complex issue that requires all of our individual efforts.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a whole new way of looking at how we live, but how do we modify what we are doing,” Karina Richters, supervisor of environmental sustainability and climate change for the City of Windsor, told council. “I think there is not an understanding within the community yet about how much gas emissions we actually put out per person and I think that baseline education is actually going to help drive that conversation and how we move forward.”

– Mayor Drew Dilkens