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EcoSociety calls on city to end reliance on non-renewable energy sources

The West Kootenay EcoSociety called on the city to commit to a motion regarding the development of strategies and implementation of projects to achieve the long-term goal of an end to the reliance on non-renewable energy sources in Nelson by 2050. — Submitted photo

Martin Luther had a dream of an end to racism.

The West Kootenay EcoSociety also has a dream of an end to the reliance on non-renewable energy sources in Nelson by 2050.

On Monday in city council chambers the region’s premiere environmental organization shared its dream on transitioning the city to 100 per cent of its net energy from renewable sources by 2050.

EcoSociety co-executive director Fiona Galbraith called on the city to commit to a motion regarding the development of strategies and implementation of projects to achieve that long-term goal.

Galbraith said 50 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are within direct or indirect control of municipalities, meaning the city could make a difference when it comes to climate change if it acted now.

The scientific consensus to avoiding global warming increasing beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100 is that the world needs to “de-carbonize” by 2050, Galbraith noted.

“Each country and community will need to do its fair share to transition to a renewable energy economy to avoid the worst climate impacts,” she said in her presentation to council.

Through the Renewable Kootenays campaign the EcoSociety has assembled a petition supporting the move in Nelson and across the West Kootenay with over 2,000 Nelson signatures, 40 endorsements from businesses, and 3,500 signatures from across the Kootenays.

The Renewable Kootenays campaign itself aims to transition West Kootenay communities to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050 in order to do the region’s “fair share” in reducing carbon pollution for generations to come, Galbraith explained.

“This will include not only a transition to renewable energy, but a reduction in energy use and an increase in energy efficiency,” she told council.

According to information from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, 50 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are within the direct or indirect control of municipal governments, read a report from city staff to council.

In fact, the report noted that cities are leading the renewable energy transition in Canada and around the world, with Vancouver, Saanich, Oxford County, Victoria and, just last week, the Village of Slocan in the Slocan Valley having pledged to get to 100 per cent renewable by 2050 in community emissions sectors of transportation, electricity and buildings.

“In adopting a motion to commit to a 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050 goal, the City of Nelson would be the sixth community in Canada to do so,” the report read.

The renewable energy scenario proposed by the EcoSociety through the campaign is based on existing energy consumption and forecasts for the residential and commercial sector (buildings and transportation), as well as current renewable energy technologies.

It involves 100 per cent renewable energy at the community level — heating and cooling, transportation and electricity — with a target of 34 per cent less energy demand by 2050.

Toward that end, transportation is the key area where the scenario would see the greatest reduction, from 1.220 terawatt hours (TWh) to 0.305 TWh. A terawatt hour is used for metering larger amounts of electrical energy to industrial customers and in power generation. The terawatt hour and petawatt hour (PWh) units are large enough to express the annual electricity generation for whole communities or even countries.

In terms of the model proposed, electricity usage would increase slightly from 0.758 TWh to 0.809 TWh, while heating would remain the same at .561 TWh (and would include renewable natural gas, biomass and electricity as its sources).

The energy demand overall is targeted to go from 2.539 TWh to 1.675 TWh, with the projected energy mix comprising 43.7 per cent hydroelectric, 27.2 photovoltaic, 11.8 per cent biomass electricity, 10.6 per cent biomass heat and 6.7 per cent renewable natural gas.

The campaign is gaining some momentum in the area, with the village of Slocan recently becoming the first municipality in the Kootenay region — and the fifth community in Canada — to declare a move toward 100 per cent renewable energy usage.

The West Kootenay EcoSociety is a non-profit, community-driven organization that works to bring together local residents to protect the natural environment while building just, equitable, healthy and live-able communities in the West Kootenay region.