Now that Council has indicated that they want London transition to a greener future in this budget cycle, Londoners should consider how they can support this transition as well. London has set a new target of net-zero by 2050 and it requires that all Londoners work together towards achieving that goal.
The majority of London's emissions come from two sources; driving our cars (gasoline) and heating our buildings (natural gas) and the more emissions we put into our atmosphere, the worse the impacts of climate change. As an individual citizen you have control over your own impact, and you can inform your elected officials about the change you want to see in your community. You can start by finding out what your carbon footprint is by completing the Project Neutral carbon calculator.
To reduce carbon emissions from vehicle use - you and your family need to prioritize walking, busing, biking or carpooling as often as possible (or switch to an EV or hybrid if you can). In London there are 286,000 cars for 303,000 driving aged Londoners (which is .94 cars per driving age Londoner) and this number has been steadily increasing. Gasoline to power personal vehicles accounts for 25% of our energy use in London and costs our community $580 million annually, which is the largest energy expenditure in the city. We must significantly reduce our emissions from driving in order to achieve net-zero by 2050.
To reduce emissions from your house - you and your family need to retrofit your home to be as efficient as possible (think windows and doors and insulation) and then switch from a natural gas furnace to electric, air source or geothermal. Or if you rent - encourage your landlord to make these improvements to your space. In 2018 in London, building heating and cooling emissions spiked because we had extreme weather events. Extreme weather events are on the rise because of climate change, and to mitigate the worst impacts our buildings need to be as well-insulated as possible. After retrofits, switching from a fossil fuel energy source like natural gas to electric or renewable is the next priority. The City is investigating different ways to make this transition for homeowners more affordable - so stay tuned for more details in the coming year.
The best part? By reducing driving and retrofitting our homes and switching to electric or renewable energy, we are able to save money and keep more money locally. When we purchase gasoline, propane, diesel, fuel oil or natural gas, we are sending money to other provinces and countries. Spending money on electric keeps money in London and creates more local jobs. Plus London would hit our net-zero by 2050 target!
Another way you can reduce emissions is by encouraging your workplace to join Green Economy London so your workplace can also reduce emissions, waste and water usage. Green Economy London helps businesses and organizations set and achieve sustainability goals, outline projects for reductions and celebrate when targets are achieved. In London, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from residential homes and employment buildings account for 50.2% of the community greenhouse gas emission profile. That's why reducing emissions at home and at work will help London meet it's target to get to net-zero by 2050.