Taking action on climate change

Funding will help several communities in the Columbia Basin adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Aerial view of valley flooding.

Multiple groups will focus on water related climate change impacts, such as flooding, ice jamming and water conservation. — Photo courtesy Columbia Basin Trust

(Columbia Basin) – Columbia Basin Trust is supporting 12 climate action projects through the first year of its three-year Climate Action Program with $540,000. This support will help several communities in the Columbia Basin adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Taking action on climate change is a high priority among many Basin communities,” said Tim Hicks, Columbia Basin Trust Senior Manager, Delivery of Benefits. “Through these projects, communities will be working to both reduce their contributions to climate change and become more resilient to climate challenges.”

Several communities will focus on water-related climate impacts. For example, the City of Cranbrook will install automated stream flow monitoring stations on nearby creeks to support community water supply and flood mitigation planning and actions.

“The flow monitoring stations will be equipped with real-time sensors with the ability to transmit high-flow warnings to City staff and operators,” said Mike Matejka, Project Manager, City of Cranbrook. “This will be an important new asset and source of information for proactive flood response, as well as for planning future upgrades and replacement of downstream infrastructure.”

Other communities will tackle composting, which reduces the greenhouse gas emissions from organic waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill. The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) will advance a food waste composting program within the city of Revelstoke, beginning with the commercial sector, which generates about 1,400 tonnes of food waste annually.

Community composting site.

Several communities will tackle composting, which reduces the greenhouse gas emissions from organic waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill. — Photo courtesy Columbia Basin Trust

“There’s strong support from Revelstoke residents to implement organics collection,” said Ben von Nostrand, Team Leader, CSRD Environmental Health Services. “There is also an appetite to conduct the compost process locally as opposed to hauling food waste to the nearest facility, which is a three-hour round trip from Revelstoke. This will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting organic waste.”

The year 2017 had one of the hottest, driest summers on record for the Basin. Across the province, 1.2 million hectares of forest burned, surpassing the previous record of 855,000 hectares in 1958. As global temperatures continue to increase, so do the risks of drought, wildfire and flooding.

To assist Basin communities in understanding the climate changes underway, the Climate Action Program engages leading climate scientists to provide up-to-date local climate change information, and brings people around the region together to collaborate on climate action priorities. Find these resources at ourtrust.org/climateaction.

To date, the Trust has met with 15 Basin communities, totalling over 300 community leaders representing 225 Basin organizations. During these meetings, leaders have learned how their local climates are changing, explored the range of projected impacts and identified opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. The program provides funding, technical resources and information to help communities take local action.

Cover of Climate Action booklet.

A booklet on Climate Action in the Columbia Basin details how the region’s climate is changing and the ways communities are making progress. — Photo courtesy Columbia Basin Trust

“Climate change is not always an easy topic, so it has been inspiring to experience such a high level of interest and positive engagement in the communities we’ve met with so far,” said Meredith Hamstead, Climate Action Program Coordinator. “This is still a relatively new topic for many people, so these meetings provide time for learning, exchange and inspiring action.”

Climate action in the Basin has also been supported through the Trust’s Environment Grants program, Energy Retrofit Program for affordable housing, and Community Development Program for community wildfire risk mitigation projects. The Trust is a partner in Accelerate Kootenays, which is establishing a network of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the region, and it also supports valuable climate-related research and data collection through partnerships such as the Columbia Basin Snow and Glacier Research Network and a new partnership with the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute to develop an interactive climate science portal in 2018.

To learn more about climate change, climate impacts and climate action in the Basin, visit ourtrust.org/climateaction. Here you’ll find the latest resources, including the newly released “Climate Action in the Columbia Basin.”

Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit ourtrust.org or call 1-800-505-8998.

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