Going Green in Grey- Grey County’s Climate Action Plan

Grey County has a Climate Change Action Plan! This is good news, and was about 3 years in the making. But the hard work is still ahead; implementing the plan and reducing greenhouse gas(GHG) emissions in Grey County. The plan is focused on mitigation, which means that its goals are aimed at reducing GHGs emitted in Grey, but a good Climate Action Plan also requires that we have good adaptation strategies in place for when climate extremes hit. The development of these strategies is still a work in progress.
The GHG reduction goals that Grey County has set with feedback from its residents are:
Corporate (Grey’s buildings, fleet, waste management, roads, etc):
40% reduction of GHGs by 2030 relative to 2018 levels
Net-zero reduction by 2050.
Community (Municipalities, Residential Buildings, Commercial, Private vehicles, etc):
30% reduction of GHGs by 2030
Net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
These goals align with our national goals. They are very aspirational and it is hoped that they will inspire action at all levels of government, businesses, agriculture, non-profit groups and individual citizens.
Megan Myles, Climate Change Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for Grey County spoke to the club in September about this plan. She gave a brief overview of the reasons why Grey County feels it is important to have a CAP, and of the CAP itself. This article is written to complement that presentation and to present some ideas about where Saugeen Nature might fit into this effort. Feedback from the membership on what you think we can do is welcome. Reducing local, regional and global greenhouse gas emissions is a daunting task when considered from the ‘big picture’viewpoint. Yet there are things we can do individually and collectively, which when combined with similar actions by others, can add up to make a significant difference.
In the Community section of the plan, the goals are laid out under seven themes: Nature-based Solutions and Agriculture, Waste, Transportation, Buildings and Development, Energy, Climate Adaptation, and Outreach and Engagement. Of these, Saugeen Nature’s role in public education on the appreciation and conservation of nature fits within the first and last themes. And our joint role with Ontario Nature, of protecting and stewarding the Kinghurst Nature Reserve, and the Murray Tract contributes to the overall absorption of greenhouse gases by natural areas in Grey County.
Some thoughts that a few of us have had regarding what Saugeen Nature can do to learn about and support the mitigation goals of Grey County’s plan include the following:

1. Have one meeting a year focused on nature-based solutions. Some examples include talks on pollinator gardens; planting a Miyawake mini-forest; the GHG absorption value of forests, wet-lands, meadows and croplands/soils. Or closer to home, the value of planting a tree in your gar-
den, replacing some of your lawn with a pollinator, or kitchen garden.

2. Dedicate one outing a year to tree planting with other community members; or other active restoration initiative on our own or collaborating with others.

3. Invite Grey County or municipal staff as speakers to tell us what climate actions have been carried out, and what the measured GHG reductions have been. Ask them hard questions like, ‘How is the implementation of Green Building Standards going in Grey County?’ or ‘How is the public transit program in Grey County going?’ as well as other questions about progress on the metrics
that are listed in the plan.

4. Invite speakers to talk to us about topics like green building standards in Ontario and what we
can do in our own homes; or what public transit in a large area like Grey might look like, and talk
to us about progress in electrification of buses. About 42% of total emissions in Grey come from private vehicles.

5. Invite members of the business/commercial community to talk to us about how they are trying to
become more sustainable. We have already had a couple of really good agricultural speakers
present, but more on this topic would be appropriate for our region. About 33% of emissions in Grey come from agriculture.

6. Widely promote meetings like these to draw in and educate more members of the public and local councilors.

7. Hanover councilors suggested we come on a tour of their new Fire Hall when it is done so that
we can learn about the green building standards that have been incorporated to lower the GHG emissions of this new building.

8. Hold a members’ night where members share what climate actions they are doing. Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing us today, along with the Biodiversity Crisis – maybe more on that one later. We welcome your feedback on the ideas presented in this article, and other thoughts you may have about what the club can do support the regional effort to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

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