Whitehorse Daily Star

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SHARP INCREASE IN EMISSIONS EXPLAINED - The significant expansion in the city’s greenhouse gas emissions is largely due to the Canada Games Centre, seen here this morning, switching its primary heat source from electricity to oil, a report explains.

City’s emissions have risen by 40 per cent

The City of Whitehorse has not only missed its reduction target for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from city operations, emissions have increased by 40 per cent in the last five years, says a new city report.

By Chuck Tobin on October 16, 2020

The City of Whitehorse has not only missed its reduction target for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from city operations, emissions have increased by 40 per cent in the last five years, says a new city report.

The report says GHG emissions from city operations – vehicles, heat, lights – have risen from 5,011 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2015 to 7,023 tonnes per year in 2019.

The reduction targets established by the city in 2014 called for a 10 per cent reduction from the 2015 emissions by 2020, and a 25 per cent reduction by 2030.

The 34-page report points out the increase in emissions is largely due to the Canada Games Centre switching its primary heat source from electricity to oil because Yukon Energy began cutting back its secondary sales of excess energy in 2017 because of low water.

There were limited secondary sales in 2018, no sales in 2019, and no sales for the first nine months of this year.

The Crown corporation began providing secondary sales again on Sept. 1, as its water reservoirs – Southern Lakes, Aishihik and Mayo lakes – are now full.

The Games Centre is back on secondary sales but secondary sales of excess energy will only last until Yukon Energy begins using diesel and natural gas generation to meet peak demand in the winter.

In 2015 and 2016, when the Games Centre was primarily on electric heat, for instance, GHG emissions were right around 500 tonnes of CO2 annually, or slightly lower.

Emissions jumped to 1,000 tonnes in 2017, to almost 1,600 tonnes in 2018 and to just over 1,800 tonnes last year, the report indicates.

Even when the Games Centre was using electric heat, the city calculated the GHG emissions using a formula that takes into account the portion of electricity generated by Yukon Energy using diesel and natural gas. The calculation is applied to all electricity use by the city.

The report also emphasizes greenhouse gas emissions from the city’s landfill and sewage lagoon are far above the emissions by the city’s corporate operations – far, far above.

It’s estimated the sewage lagoon emitted 400 tonnes of methane in 2019, or the equivalent of 11,195 tonnes of CO2, as methane is 28 times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

The landfill, however, is the largest contributor of GHGs. It’s estimated it emitted 1,621 tonnes of methane last year, or the equivalent of 45,381 tonnes of CO2 – 6.5 times more than all the emissions from corporate operations.

The report notes the city has made successful strides in its efforts to divert organics from the landfill to its composting stream and it’s increasing those efforts.

The report concludes: “In 2014 the city set a target to reduce corporate emissions by 10% by 2020. That deadline has come and gone and our emissions have unfortunately risen by 40%. This result highlights that the current staffing levels, prioritization, and project funding approach have not been sufficient to make progress on GHG emissions reductions. To get the city back on track as a leader in sustainability and climate action, a renewed focus is required.”

The report, titled Corporate Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, was posted online by the city on Oct. 2.

City council was told at its meeting on Tuesday that an analysis of the emissions inventory is being conducted.

Aside from the jump in emissions by the Games Centre, the emissions inventory indicates the city has been keeping overall emissions from operations pretty much in check, with no major increases in other areas but no major decreases either.

Emissions from the city’s fleet of vehicles and equipment, not including transit, has hovered right around 1,800 tonnes of CO2 per year from 2015 to 2019, with a slight spike in 2017 related to a cold winter.

Last year, on the other hand, total emissions from the fleet were slightly lower than the previous four years.

Total emissions from the fleet of transit buses have averaged right around 1,250 tonnes annually since 2015, though there was a slight increase last year following a slight decrease in 2018.

Annual emissions from all city-owned buildings, other than the Games Centre, were in the same ballpark from 2015 to 2019, with a low of just over 1,000 tonnes in 2016 and a high of over 1,200 tonnes in 2018.

The inventory points out emissions from city buildings will rise in the short term as the new Operations Building off Range Road is heated by propane. But those increases will be offset with the eventual closure of the old and rundown Municipal Services Building (MSB) on Fourth Avenue.

While the Operations Building is more than twice the size of MSB, it will produce the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions related to heating because it has been built to energy efficiency standards 80 per cent higher than National Building Code standards, the report points out.

The Operations Building, the city’s second largest building next to the Games Centre, has also been fitted with an array of solar panels on the roof that will provide all of the building’s electricity when the sun is high and solar generation is peaking.

The report notes the city has taken other steps such as increased use of LED lighting to reduce its use of electricity, and thereby cut back on its greenhouse gas emissions related to Yukon Energy’s use of fossil fuels for generation.

Electricity accounts for 62 per cent of the city’s energy costs while 36 per cent is for oil, gas and diesel, and two per cent is for propane. The city spent approximately $5.4 million on energy last year.

The report indicates the city reduced its use of electricity by approximately 22 per cent from 2015 to 2019, the report indicates.

While there are no GHG reduction targets for the landfill, the city has set a goal of diverting 50 per cent of the waste to composting and recycling.

As of 2018, the city had achieved 30-per-cent diversion.

Comments (11)

Up 25 Down 1

Obi on Oct 19, 2020 at 3:49 pm

A 40% increase in emissions in our 32,000 populated city, in our 42,000 populated 226,000 square mile territory, in five years.
It won't be long now for the Chinese to show up over here, complaining, and demanding we save the planet. Just about the most important thing I have to worry about today.

Up 36 Down 3

c on Oct 18, 2020 at 9:42 am

This pandering to green in the Yukon is such a joke. Elected officals playing the smoke and mirrors game rather than telling voters the truth. Anyone who would come out and tell the truth would get in by a landslide. Remember, when you elect people that smoke (MJ) and then add the mirrors things don't get any better. No wonder we have the highest per capita consumption rates in the nation. Apparently you have to hide corruption and deceit with something.

Up 12 Down 14

Nathan Living on Oct 17, 2020 at 5:32 pm

This is outrageous. Our mayor needs to be tough and set the course.

Up 44 Down 1

My Opinion on Oct 17, 2020 at 4:20 pm

Wait till the bills start rolling in for heating that HUGE City building. The idea was that it would save energy, not a chance on that. It has about 20 Huge overhead doors, Make up air system to get rid of humidity. Will cost a fortune to heat. Plus they are tendering for rental of extra office space in town to house a number of departments as they won't even fit in that Gigantic Building. GREENWASH.

Up 34 Down 4

Jake The Bosun on Oct 17, 2020 at 3:30 pm

There is a solution, it's available and eventually the majority will accept it:
Stop building more, and bigger, and switch from "feel good" to reality based decisions!
Two liquid metal cooled micro-nuclear reactors in the Minto Copper pit !
Technology is available. It's cheap relatively. It's proven safe. Transmission lines are in place.
They even come and remove it when the fuel is expended.

Up 45 Down 2

Unfeckingbelievable! on Oct 17, 2020 at 11:22 am

Hmmm... So our local and territorial governments have failed to solve a problem and have made it worse. These governments then blame the people and charge them more through taxes, user fees and other to continue the charade while spending more money to convince people to vote for them and their plan to fix things... That is insanity!

Up 34 Down 1

Jake The Bosun on Oct 17, 2020 at 8:26 am

Over 2000 metric tons of methane escaped from our sewage and garbage last year!
Too bad that's not captured and burned like it is in some jurisdictions.
Rather than paving some more of the planet into a pointless freeway this would be more logical (and even safer?) .

Up 27 Down 5

Matthew on Oct 17, 2020 at 7:00 am

Over 600 new houses in Whistlebend, each house pumps out a minimum of 10,000W.. as each baseboard heater is 1500W.. now you tell me how that's "environmentally friendly" do the simple math folks.. LED lighting LOL! They are so lost it's unbelievable. Free and clean energy is already here, some simple research tells you this.. but then the entire energy sector would be jobless..

Up 24 Down 3

bingo on Oct 16, 2020 at 8:25 pm

Who cares..Yukon Energy used 1 million litres of Diesel in 13 days in January 2020, this does not include LNG so I say...who cares if the government want to pass green electric heat...who cares!

Up 21 Down 3

JC on Oct 16, 2020 at 6:31 pm

Don't worry about it. It's just food for the dried out forests and vegetation.

Up 45 Down 1

Gringo on Oct 16, 2020 at 6:00 pm

So they can offset 90000 litres of oil by going electric. Me thinks that electric heat is produced by the 30 gen sets we now have in the Yukon. 90000 litres will pale in comparison to what those gennys consume. Can some official with some stones put an end to the hypocrisy?

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