GHG Emissions Inventories

In today’s society, there is a widely held consensus, in the scientific community as well as increasingly in society as a whole, that rising global mean temperatures can largely be attributed to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) that are the result of human activity.

The ensuing climate changes being observed throughout the world are henceforth undeniable – more frequent weather related anomalies and natural disasters, receding glaciers, sudden declines in agricultural productivity, etc. – and the effects of these changes will continue to be felt if nothing is done to slow the increase in the rate of GHG emissions.

As a result, many communities around the world and across Canada have begun to realize the importance of conducting GHG emissions inventories and, based on the results obtained, begin taking the necessary actions to reduce their emissions and overall carbon footprint to improve the health of the environment as well as create a more sustainable lifestyle for their residents.

During the past few years, Eco-West has conducted more than three dozen GHG inventories in various municipalities and communities across the province of Manitoba, and several others have expressed an interest in getting involved in the process in the very near future.

Understanding the usefulness and advantages of a GHG emissions inventory

A GHG emissions inventory is designed to collect data on community and municipal energy use as well as solid waste generation in order to estimate GHG emissions in a given year. The local action plan (LAP) – which covers municipal operations as well as community-led initiatives – is a strategic document that outlines how the municipality will achieve its GHG emissions reduction objectives.

A GHG inventory thus serves as a management tool to:

  • Identify emissions sources based on the types of energy used, the sectors involved (transportation, building, water treatment plants, residual materials management, etc.), and the equipment being utilized.
  • Provide useful information: An inventory of emissions is the first step in the creation of a local action plan. Inventorying significant sources of GHG emissions helps municipalities to establish adequate measures to reduce emissions and create an efficient LAP.
  • Help reduce energy-related expenditures: The inventory helps to track the dollars spent on energy. That which can be measured can be managed. An inventory highlights opportunities to invest in energy efficient upgrades.

The inventorying of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can ultimately lead to the creation of a local action plan to address climate change, which in turn will create opportunities to bring ‘green’ technologies to the marketplace, attract foreign direct investments and train a skilled workforce.

The ‘Partners for Climate Protection’ Program (PCP)

The Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program is a network of Canadian municipal governments that have committed to reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) and turn the tide against climate change. Since the program’s inception in 1994, over 250 municipalities have joined PCP, making a public commitment to reducing emissions. PCP membership covers all provinces and territories and accounts for more than 80% of the Canadian population.

The PCP is a partnership between the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability.

The program empowers municipalities to take action against climate change through a five-milestone process that guides members in creating GHG inventories, setting realistic and achievable GHG reduction targets, developing local action plans, and implementing plans using concrete actions to reduce emissions.

The PCP Process

Together, milestones 1, 2, and 3 of the Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program form an example of a GHG emissions reduction plan. This type of plan, which is also known as a climate change action plan or local action plan (LAP), must include certain elements required by the PCP program.

Milestone 1 – Creating a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and forecast

Milestone 2 – Setting an emissions reduction target

Milestone 3 – Developing a local action plan (LAP)

Municipalities are strongly encouraged to join the PCP program as there is no membership fee, and it includes the following advantages:

  • Obtaining the means to fight against climate change
  • Asserting the need for joint authority and global action on climate change
  • Becoming a positive example for your community and other Canadian municipalities
  • Sharing your knowledge and experience on how to reduce GHG emissions

Benefitting from Green Municipal Fund (GMF) program services offered to municipalities such as grants and loans for local greening initiatives.