Our long-term social and economic stability requires a just energy transition that creates new jobs, takes responsibility for our contributions to the climate crisis, and mitigates the worst impacts of a rapidly warming planet.
We need to support changes in the transportation and housing sectors in ways that are equitable and encourage innovation, technology adoption, and training for skilled labour. With the adoption of renewable energy sources and innovation in technology, Edmonton also has the opportunity to build a green hydrogen economy to support the transition here and in other markets.
One of our biggest challenges will be retrofitting our existing building stock at scale. According to Retrofit Canada, 70-80% of the buildings we will have in 2050 (when we aim to reach net-zero emissions) are already built. While retrofitting our 1952 bungalow we experienced first hand both the individual and systemic challenges we need to overcome to achieve these goals. These challenges are also opportunities for new businesses, educational opportunities, jobs and innovation. We have the industry knowledge, research and professional expertise and skilled labour to embrace this opportunity.
Removing the significant hurdles for building new net-zero or net-zero ready multi-family housing is also essential. My mother, sister and many friends are building Urban Green Cohousing and I’ve watched closely for many years. Making this easier, requires working with community members, NGOS, the building trades and trade schools, developers, construction companies, supplies, utilities, regulators and (if possible) the province and federal government.
A more efficient transportation network that connects people to places more easily, regardless of how they travel, is the fundamental for reducing our emissions. Economic and energy efficiency is supported by more dense complete communities. To benefit from this, we need density done well, including housing diversity, amenities, services and natural areas connected through good transit, safe sidewalks, active transportation corridors and safe streets.
Our City plays an important role in bringing all the different players together to create solutions and remove barriers to achieving these ambitious goals.