Today, climate change is widely recognized as a serious global concern and is already affecting many parts of the world. Some of the impacts likely to affect our region include more frequent extreme storms and rain events, sea level rise, increased incidence of drought and associated air quality concerns, and changes to ecosystems including altered stream flows and increased invasive species and pests.
Altered stream flows would affect salmon in the Fraser River, while invasive species and pests would affect agricultural production and natural ecosystems.
What is Climate Change?
Climate change refers to the current accelerated rate and scale of change in global temperatures and climate patterns, compared to the past range of variability, due largely to the emissions of greenhouse gases by human activities. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, and other products of combustion.
Canadians produce among the world’s highest quantity of greenhouse gases per person.
What Are We Doing?
Climate change planning usually falls into two categories.
- Mitigation means reducing greenhouse gas emissions to lessen one of the main drivers (causes) of climate change
- Adaptation means preparing for the inevitable impacts of climate change to the degree possible
Burnaby’s Response to Climate Change
The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate global climate change is recognized in the City of Burnaby Official Community Plan, together with air quality improvement objectives. Burnaby is also a member of the Partners for Climate Protection, a collaborative initiative of local governments. The City of Burnaby participates in regional climate initiatives such as the Integrated Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Management Plan.
In June 2010, the City of Burnaby adopted an interim target for community scale greenhouse gas emissions reduction, of 5% below 2007 levels. This target is anticipated to be met relatively easily through policies and initiatives already in place or in progress, and complies with the Province’s Bill 27 Local Government (Green Communities) Statutes Amendment Act. Meanwhile, the City is preparing to embark on a more comprehensive approach to address both corporate and community emissions reduction. This approach will likely integrate sustainability goals related to issues including health (air quality), transportation, sustainable energy initiatives and land use planning and development.
What We're Doing Today:
Existing policies and programs that contribute to GHG emissions reduction and climate change adaptation include:
- Corporate initiatives in Energy Planning and other corporate green initiatives.
- A “smart growth” land use and development approach with a strong relationship to alternative transportation options and other support services and infrastructure, resulting in more efficient buildings, less reliance on personal automobiles for transportation, with overall less greenhouse gas emissions.
- Green Development practices and features in private and City developments, with energy efficiency resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions.
- A protected network of greenspaces and stream corridors that provide some buffering of extreme weather events and temperatures, including the Urban Forest that stores and sequesters carbon from the atmosphere.
- Transportation Planning, involving a strong emphasis on walking, cycling, transit and other initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Urban Agriculture programs, helping to reduce reliance on imported food and associated greenhouse gas emissions.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
- Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (University of Victoria)
- Impacts of climate change on British Columbia’s biodiversity: a literature review by Donald Gayton, BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management
- Climate Change and Health (Health Canada)