Municipal Action to Combat Global Warming
Global warming is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Warming of the climate is unequivocal and the facts are there to remind us: rising average temperatures of the atmosphere and oceans, widespread melting of glaciers, rising global sea levels and ocean acidification. (GIEC, 2013).
The causes of Global Warming
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, around 1750, the greenhouse effect has been amplified by the release of large amounts of greenhouse gasses (GHG) into the atmosphere. The massive use of fossil fuels (petroleum products, coal, natural gas, etc.) as well as deforestation, certain industrial processes and many agricultural practices have all contributed greatly to the increase of greenhouse gas emissions. (MDDEFP 2002)
These human activities have resulted in increased concentrations of GHG in the atmosphere. The greater their concentrations, the more they trap heat on Earth’s surface causing temperatures to rise.
It is expected that the climate will warm throughout the entire province of Quebec more significantly during winter than in summer. Thus, in winter 2050, the temperatures will rise by 3°C in southern Quebec. Increases in summer temperatures will be about 2.5°C (Ouranos, 2010).
Impacts on Southern Quebec
The consequences of climate change are many in our region of southern Québec (Ouranos, 2010):
- Increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events (heavy rains that affect roads, buildings and facilitate the transfer of contaminants to the water supply).
- Decrease in snow accumulation due to rising temperatures and the shortening of the cold season.
- Reduction of stream flow during low flow periods (summer and fall), resulting in, among other things, increased risks of drinking water shortages for some bodies of water.
- Greater vulnerability of ecosystems that provide essential functions to communities (i.e.: filtration of air and water, food and wood production) and increased pressure on biodiversity.
- Human health will be challenged by more frequent and more intense heat waves, by new diseases transmitted by living organisms (e. g.: West Nile Virus) as well as by changes in air quality.
How to reduce GHG emissions?
Cities and municipalities have the power to act in reducing the province’s GHG emissions. Under the Climat municipalités program, the Municipality of Rawdon has evaluated its greenhouse gas emissions and prepared an action plan identifying measures to reduce GHG.
By 2017, the Municipality is committed to reduce corporate GHG emissions by 2.6% (38 tons of CO2) and to reduce community GHG emissions by 0.2% (80 tons of CO2), as compared to the 2009 levels. To achieve this, several of the following actions will be implemented:
- Reduce consumption of fossil fuels (ex: fuel oil, propane) in municipal buildings.
- Purchase more fuel efficient vehicles and whenever possible, hybrid or electric vehicles;
- Ensure proper vehicle maintenance (a poorly maintained vehicle consumes more fuel);
- Heighten the awareness of citizens to recycling and composting (landfill waste generates GHG emissions);
- Increase monitoring of septic tank emptying (emptying reduces GHG released by sludge).
As citizens, you can also do your part to reduce your GHG emissions. Here’s a list of simple actions you can take:
- Favour electric or manual lawn-mowers;
- Limit the use of your barbecue as it produces GHG;
- For short distances, travel by bicycle or walk;
- Take public transit or carpool whenever possible;
- Reduce your driving speed. You can save 20% of fuel by driving 100 km/h instead of 120 km/h;
- Choose eco-friendly, hybrid or electric cars;
- Choose recyclable or composting products;
- When you purchase wooden products or furniture, make sure the wood comes from a sustainable managed forest. You can recognize it by the FSC certification;
- Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables cultivated locally through sustainable agriculture;
- Reduce your meat consumption. Meat production can be damaging to the environment by CO2 emissions or by the amount of water used in the production process;
- Plant a tree or protect a small forest. Trees capture a lot of CO2.
- Get involved and make your opinion heard on strategies to counter global warming.