Climate Action Powell River

Carbon Wise Homes

We have called this our flagship project, partly because it is the first concrete project that CAPR started, but mostly because it is so central to ourclimate action strategy. It is modeled after several existing programs that we studied and adopted. You may recall the
One-tonne Challenge that was begun by the Liberal Party in the late 1990s andimmediately shut down by the Harper government. What a total shame that is,simply because it had such tremendous potential to lift citizen engagement andunderstanding of the mechanics of climate change and its solutions. A greatdeal of insight and planning went into the creation of that program so that it would be easy and palatable for average Canadians. It was not the first of its kind in Canada, but it was the most widely promoted and professionally presented. The list of similar programs throughout the world has to number in the hundreds if not the thousands and still hold the same great relevance that they did in the beginning. All such programs are meant to make us aware and take responsibility for our carbon footprints.  


The heart of most of these programs is a carbon calculator. This technology has almost risen to the status of an art form. The City of Calgary has the most visually appealing and fun version that we have found. The first calculators were relatively simple compared to the ones we find today. The technology has continued to evolve and allow deeper analysis of our environmental sources and
impacts and they measure much more than our GHG emissions. They typically ask us to record our household spending habits and dietary patterns. For some, this may initially seem too invasive orpersonal.  For too long we have been conditioned to think that our everyday consumer choices are somehow neutral andour business. They are not. 


You will see on the ROAD Map timeline that CAPR is designing a customized calculator for Powell River. Last year when we started Cool Homes (Carbonwise), we recommended that our participants use the calculator on the Tree Canada website, where they can get
a “reading” on the standard emission sources in their life for each category (heating, transportation, travel, etc.) and a total for that year. One of our goals is to record this data confidentially and be able to track domestic and other emission reductions. Our new calculator should have that ability. Postal codes look like they will be the common identifier, to be completely respectful of people’s privacy, while still givingus adequate tracking capability.  


On the timeline, we wrote our Carbonwise membership targets for the next couple of years: 100 households in 2017, 200 in 2018, 500 in 2019. To seriously address climate change and take concrete action, whether it is political, social, or technological, it is incumbent on us to measure and reduce our individual and household emissions. Our totals are likely to go up and down year to year. Having a record of personal emissions is much like a bank balance or personal budget. In fact, it is suggested that a sustainable carbon budget for everyone on our planet might be as high as one tonne of CO2e per year. That is difficult to attain in North America, but it is good to know the limits and our responsibility. Carbonwise will collect data and be able to analyze where emissions are occurring and how to support further reductions.