Victoria’s Community Plan is a strategic plan. Risk management is a big part of organizational strategic plans, but I was surprised to see it so explicitly in the climate change session.
Risk management says there are four ways to respond to a threat that may occur:
- Accept: do nothing
- Transfer: make it someone else’s problem (insurance is the most straightforward example)
- Avoid: change your plan to reduce the impact (called “Adaptation” in a climate change context)
- Mitigate: reduce the probability that the threat occurs
Most emissions happen in urban areas, but the City of Victoria is just one municipality in the region and just one city in the world, so mitigation is more about setting a good example and doing our part. Victoria’s emissions are divided about 50-50 between building heating & cooling and transportation (solid waste is insignificant and reducing it is a distraction from the real problems).
For heating & cooling, it’s more important to retrofit old buildings than set standards for new ones (most of Victoria’s buildings that will be standing in 30 years have already been built). I didn’t get a chance to ask if we have a potential for deep water cooling, but there are a few geothermal heritage-retrofit projects in Victoria.
The Capital Region per capita transportation emissions are 0.6 tonnes higher than the City’s per capita emissions, so the most important thing is supporting regional transportation plans (like keeping rail on the Johnson Street Bridge, hmm?). It turns out that not that many people are commuting directly downtown, so sticks like reducing parking may not be as effective as carrots. But there’s also lots of opportunity to reduce transportation emissions within the City.
Given that some climate change is inevitable, we also have to avoid the impacts. Victoria is well above sea level. We need emergency management to deal with increasingly weird weather. Our biggest problem is water security:
- water supply
- water-borne disease
- handling wastewater