Logo for the City of Kitchener's sustainability report

Kitchener – The City of Kitchener has released its second annual sustainability report, showing a dramatic reduction in its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions. While some of these changes are the result of pandemic-related closures, City staff have been working hard to ensure long-term improvements. Meaningful climate action is a marathon, and the City has worked throughout 2020 to make the long-term investments and partnerships that will reliably reduce emissions every year.

The City of Kitchener's Corporate Climate Action Plan aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by eight per cent by 2026 (compared to 2016). In 2020, emissions actually fell well below that goal, more than 20 per cent below our benchmark year.

This is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which closed many facilities and altered the way the City provides services. Although this has been far from a typical year, we’ve shown it can be done.

Graph showing the City of Kitchener’s greenhouse gas emissions from 2010-2020, as well as the goal year of 2026. There is a significant decrease between 2010 and 2016, and then a steady decline until 2020, which is much lower - 20% lower than 2016, the year the City uses as a baseline.

Sustainability report highlights

  • added five hybrid SUVs, four electric cars, an electric zero turn mower and an electric utility vehicle to the City’s fleet
  • continued converting the City’s 2,600+ ornamental post-top lights to LED - these conversions will result in a 62% energy reduction and annual savings of approximately 887,343 kilowatts and $177,468.
  • diverted well over 635 tons of waste from going to landfill

For the City’s Corporate Sustainability Officer Claire Bennett, the unique emissions of the past year aren’t the only story the data highlights. The partnerships being built by the City are what will have the longest-lasting impact.

“The City has made tremendous progress incorporating sustainable practices into our operations,” said Bennett. “Now we get to do the fun part – collaborating with our partners in the broader community. We’ve been using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to frame strategic planning and then translate it into the City’s operations; it’s been incredibly rewarding to see progress being made. With the important foundations being established at the City, we’re setting the stage for success in the broader community with core partners ClimateActionWR.”

Last week, the draft of a community strategy for all of Waterloo Region was released for public input by ClimateActionWR and its partners, including the City of Kitchener. For Kitchener residents passionate about climate change, the best way to get engaged is to review the draft strategy and provide your feedback.

Climate change does not impact everyone equally, and most often, those that contribute to it least are most affected. In the transformation to a sustainable operation and community Kitchener is localizing global models such as the SDGs and doughnut economics to ensure equity is at the foundation of decision making and program design.

“Our sustainability initiatives are already having a tremendous cost-saving and emissions-reducing impact,” said Bennett. “This year we’re building on that momentum by building a more equitable approach for all of Waterloo Region with our partner organizations and community members.

Find out more about the City’s Corporate Climate Action Plan and the other ways the City demonstrates environmental leadership through its 2019-2022 Strategic Plan.