Sustainability framework launched as Regina works to cut back emissions

Researchers at the University of Regina have released a new report meant to detail how Regina can become a “truly equitable city.”

The report, titled Implementing Equity: A Renewable Regina that Works for Everyone, explores “how the City of Regina incorporated climate equity into its Energy and Sustainability Framework and what the city can do to meaningfully incorporate equity into its actual city-level climate policy.”

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Authors Simon Enoch and Emily Eaton held an event Thursday to officially launch the report.

It presents a framework to ensure the looming energy transition is equitable for all residents of Regina. The report outlines a plan to bring Regina’s emissions to net zero by 2050, with an interim target of 50 per cent reductions by 2030.

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“We hope the City of Regina will accept our recommendation to ensure uptake from equity-deserving communities,” said Eaton, a University of Regina geography and environmental studies professor.

“We can’t afford to treat the framework and equity as an afterthought or on a case-by-case basis. It has to be a guide to a comprehensive strategy and should determine what kinds of projects and policies come before council.”

The report outlines how different city policies in Regina could be implemented and the cost associated with them.

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“We are in the middle of a global energy transition,” Eaton said. “Our economy here is very dependent on fossil fuel production, and our cities are designed to consume fossil fuels. So as those are phased out globally, we do need to prepare for this future.”

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The report also outlines the importance of not forgetting underprivileged communities when it comes to implementing equity with things like bike lanes, proper disposable infrastructure and transit services.

“Equity is at the heart of sustainability,” said Hayley Watson from Better Bus Youth. “This is apparent when you look at the need for accessible public transportation for youth. When kids can’t get to school or kids can’t get to work because they can’t afford the bus, that is sad.”

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In order to help reach a sustainable emissions reduction, the report recommends a centralized climate office be introduced with experts on the subject and act as a resource for the city.

“We cannot afford to delay, not even by a year,” said Regina city councillor Shanon Zachidiak. “It is imperative that we have an adequately staffed climate office to provide leadership on how to embed the framework into city operations and all components of decision making.”

A full copy of the report can be found online.

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