County answers reader’s climate plan questions

The County of Haliburton was asked by Haliburton Echo staff to respond to the questions posed by reader Dave Love within the Letters to the Editor section (“Questions on county’s climate plan”) in their Aug. 25 edition. We appreciate the opportunity to address Mr. Love’s concerns.

Q1. What will this planned reduction of 15 per cent by 2030 cost local taxpayers? There was no mention whatsoever in the article about the cost of these initiatives nor where those funds would come from.

The draft Corporate Climate Change Mitigation Plan outlines an estimated cost and potential funding opportunities associated with each suggested initiative. Costs will be determined each year resulting from the municipal procurement process and funds allocated during budget planning; some actions are dependent on securing funding from external sources. A dynamic approach is required as changes occur over the next decade; including declining costs of new technology and the introduction of funding programs.

Q2. If electric vehicle charging stations are installed, what energy source would be used? Is our local electric power produced from hydro, nuclear or natural gas?

The county benefits from the same electric power grid as all of Ontario. More than 90 per cent of electricity produced in the province is carbon free; from nuclear, hydro and renewables. The remainder comes from natural gas.

Q3.  Also no mention of Haliburton’s forests, which, like those across the rest of the country, absorb CO2. With so much forested land within the county absorbing a relatively small (per square kilometre) level of CO2 emissions, will such a program make any noticeable difference to our air quality in Haliburton County? What are the current measurements of CO2 in the county, and what are they expected to be if this plan is 100 per cent successful?

A county-wide greenhouse gas inventory is planned for 2021 as part of phase three of climate change planning (the community plan). Targets to reduce emissions will be established in consultation with the community. Forestry will be included as part of the community plan. Forests in Canada currently emit more carbon than they absorb, due to natural disturbances such as forest fires and insect outbreaks. Managed forests currently only negate about three per cent of Canada’s emissions produced from energy, transport, industry, agriculture and waste.

While the forests in Haliburton County are important to protect, they do not make up for the amount of carbon we produce. Community initiatives aimed at reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and household waste will result in the greatest greenhouse gas reductions for our communities.