Esquimalt approves plans to address climate change impacts, GHG reductions

Esquimalt approved its climate action, mitigation and adaptation plans this month as it prepares for more work to address the risks facing the township.

These projects identify strategies to reduce greenhouse gases to avoid the worst effects of climate change and improve the infrastructure needed to cope with extreme conditions.

The city expects average summer temperatures to rise by 3.3 degrees Celsius by 2050, with year-round temperatures rising to 2.7 degrees Celsius by then. The number of days with extreme heat (over 30°C) is expected to quadruple by 2050, with an 11-fold increase by 2080. Reports predict further heat-related health impacts, particularly for the most vulnerable, and significantly increased demand for cooling.

Summer months will see longer periods of drought with 18% less rainfall by 2050. However, annual rainfall is likely to increase with October to December seeing the highest increase in rainfall. The report added that rains will be heavier, storms will be fewer but more intense and heavy storms will occur more frequently.

Warmer conditions leading to thermally expanded seawater and more glacial melt are expected to raise water levels around Esquimalt by up to one meter this century. The climate plan states that most of the township is well above sea level, but areas such as Esquimelt Gorge Park, West Bay and Department of National Defense lands will be at risk of rising sea levels.

The reports highlight how much of Esquimalt’s infrastructure was installed during the 40s and 50s – and how its underground pipes are particularly vulnerable to climate change. The only climate risk with a “high” score was more intense storms that cause overflow in sewers — which could cause the system to become overwhelmed, the plans say.

The adaptation plan calls for modeling to determine where stormwater capacity improvements are most needed and increased utility budgets for ongoing repairs to sewer and sanitary systems.

In an effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, the township is aiming to cut emissions by about 15,000 tons per year by 2030 and says it is on track to do so.

Meeting this eight-year target will require decarbonising both transport and the way buildings operate. The biggest reductions will be made by retrofitting existing buildings and their fuel consumption, as well as electrifying passenger vehicles, increasing transit ridership and improving active mobility.

The compliance report states that the township should educate residents about the benefits of oil and gas home heating maintenance and the rebates available to them, address barriers to heat pump installation and provincial Heat pump programs should increase rebate top-ups.


jake.romphf@blackpress.ca. Follow us. Instagram.
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Climate change