Pandemic helped Region reduce greenhouse gas emissions

A drop in transit ridership and conducting business virtually amid the pandemic are both credited with helping York Region reduce its corporate greenhouse gas emissions by 18 per cent last year compared to pre-pandemic emissions targets.

Its gas emissions dropped by 710 tonnes to 65,980 tonnes, according to its 2021 Corporate Energy Report, the region’s primary tool for reporting progress toward achieving emission targets approved by Regional Council. All municipalities are legislatively required to have Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plans. 

Initiatives like fleet electrification, hybrid police patrol vehicles and building system upgrades also helped produce “immediate and measurable emission and cost reductions,” the region reports. YRP has deployed more hybrid patrol vehicles than any other police service in Canada and is planning to replace half of its front-line patrol vehicles with hybrids by the end of this year. To date, those vehicles have saved 217,500 litres of gas or $241,000 and achieved 510 tonnes of emission reductions – that’s equivalent to average annual emissions from 93 cars or light trucks.

Office consolidations, conducting business virtually, digital processes and reduced employee vehicles also contributed to the region’s emissions reductions and put $1.8 million back into its coffers. Corporate energy costs, meanwhile, increased by five per cent to $45.6 million in 2021 and were driven by the rising costs of gasoline, diesel fuel, natural gas and the federal carbon tax. Annual costs associated with the carbon tax are expected to add $9.7 million to the region’s annual operating costs by 2030.

The region expects corporate emissions will rebound with an increase in transit service but says success from long-term efforts will continue beyond the global pandemic and long-term climate change action plans under development will guide future efforts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions.

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