URBAN HIPPIE: Previewing the city’s Greenhouse Gas Roundtable on March 23
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URBAN HIPPIE: Previewing the city’s Greenhouse Gas Roundtable on March 23

Urban Hippie by Jen Lahey is published every second Tuesday at OttawaMagazine.com. Follow Jen on Twitter ‏@Jen_Lahey.

This week, the City of Ottawa is finally doing something that environmentalists have been pushing it to do for awhile: it’s taking the first step toward addressing its out of date policy on climate change. The city’s Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan (AQCCMP), which expired at the end of 2012, will finally get the attention of politicians at a Greenhouse Gas Roundtable on March 23.

The AQCCMP was developed in 2004 and set out targets for reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.  So far, the city has made some progress, but hasn’t met its greenhouse gas reduction targets in any of the set out areas, not by a long shot.

A report by Ecology Ottawa, an environmental non-profit in Ottawa, points out that “[i]n 2012, [City] Council received the 2004 and 2008 Greenhouse Gas Inventories, which showed progress at the ‘corporate’ level (against a 30% target, a 12.5% greenhouse gas reduction was achieved, principally by capture and utilization of landfill gas) but not much progress at all at the ‘community’ level (community emissions representing 95% of all local emissions increased 0.9%).”

So what does a group like Ecology Ottawa hope to see happen at this weekend’s Roundtable? According to Trevor Haché, the group’s policy coordinator, two things would make the event a huge win.

First, he wants to see the city actually commit to developing Ottawa’s “next generation climate change action plan, which necessarily includes a focus on community [greenhouse gas] reduction targets consistent with national best practices.”

A second sign of success? Haché says the city needs to put its money where its mouth is and actually commit to a plan, and a timeline for executing that plan, with a goal of completing it within the year 2013.

According to Ecology Ottawa, the city would do well to focus its attention on the following areas to get the biggest bang for its environmental buck: transportation, the building sector, alternative energy and community energy planning /conservation programs, and sustainable land use planning and community greening.

Haché says his group is impressed with the city for even organizing the Roundtable, and that “the leadership being displayed by the Mayor’s office is particularly encouraging.”

Ottawans who want to take part in the Roundtable in person are apparently out of luck: the city has been sending out “we have reached maximum capacity” auto-replies to those members of the public who attempted to RSVP to the event.

Tech savvy Urban Hippies should have no fear, however: Ecology Ottawa will be livetweeting the event using the hashtag #otghg.