What is climate change?

    Climate change refers to persistent, long-term changes to the normal patterns of weather in a region. The consensus of the scientific community is that climate change is largely due to human activities that change the composition of the atmosphere and land-use, and to a lesser extent by natural processes and events such as volcanic eruptions. 

    What is a greenhouse gas?

    Greenhouse gases, often shortened to GHGs, are gases that trap heat inside the atmosphere. They allow sunlight to pass through to the Earth’s surface, but they prevent the heat generated from escaping the atmosphere. The most common GHGs are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapour. 

    Fossil fuels have helped human society. Why should we move away from them?

    Fossil fuels have helped much of the world, including Alberta, to increase our quality of life over the past several hundred years. Unfortunately, burning these fuels is also an important contributor to global climate change. If we continue to burn these fuels at the same speed that we currently do, scientists predict that the quality of life of people around the planet, including in our city, will be negatively affected in many ways by the resulting change to worldwide weather patterns. 

    How is climate change affecting Spruce Grove?

    Climate change is already changing our local weather patterns and will continue to do so in the future. Some of these changes provide beneficial opportunities, like a longer growing season and warmer winters. Other changes result in damaging impacts, such as increased flooding, increased periods of drought and extreme summer temperatures, more fires, and more pests and invasive species because of the warmer winters. According the the Government of Canada's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, despite the benefits provided by climate change, the overall social, economic and environmental consequences will be overwhelmingly negative.

    What is climate change preparation?

    This refers to actions taken to reduce the negative effects we anticipate from climate change. For example, if we expect to have more intense rainstorms in the future, then one way to prepare for this would be to improve the stormwater drainage system so that the city does not experience flooding due to rain. There are many other types of preparations that can be taken - some by residents, some by businesses, and some by different levels of government. 

    What is climate change mitigation?

    This refers to actions that will reduce the impacts of climate change. While some of these actions relate to pulling GHGs out of the atmosphere (eg. planting trees, or technological options such as carbon capture and storage), most solutions relate to reducing GHG emissions. This can involve finding sources of energy that emit fewer or no GHGs (geothermal, wind, solar, etc.) than current methods. It can also include reducing the amount of energy used (eg. using more energy efficient light bulbs, improving home insulation so less energy is needed to keep it warm, etc.). 

    Many types of mitigation options will be explored during the creation of this plan. 

    Why is Spruce Grove taking action on climate change?

    The City of Spruce Grove has a long track record of being a responsible steward for both city residents and the city’s environment. Taking action to address climate change continues to helps the City accomplish both of these goals. 

    Completion of this plan was approved in the 2021-2023 Corporate Plan. The Climate Change Action Plan will serve as a 10 year guiding document for the City to address climate change. Having a structured plan will allow the City to take actions that will best serve the community while also preparing for and reducing the impacts of climate change. The plan will have a strong socio-economic approach, ensuring that all recommended actions are balanced from an environmental, social and economic standpoint.

    What will happen at the end of this project?

    The Climate Change Action Plan created this year will be presented to City Council in early 2022. If adopted, this plan will act as an important guiding document for many actions taken within the city over the next 10 years. We encourage you to participate in some of the public engagement opportunities so that your ideas are reflected in the final plan.