Guelph Emissions Rise 8%

Newest data1 reveals that for the second year in a row city wide community greenhouse gas emissions increased by 8%. While this is very disappointing, it’s not at all surprising. Emissions dropped 17% at the beginning of the pandemic. Every year since has seen greenhouse gas emissions increase as COVID restrictions loosened. Unfortunately, we expect this pattern to continue. 

The residential, institutional, commercial and industrial sectors increased by 8% in 2022 while the transportation sector jumped 13%. All of these are headed in the wrong direction.

Guelph City Wide Emissions tCO2e20212022Difference% Difference
Residential Buildings167,871181,19613,3257.9%
Institutional & Commercial buildings177,936191,83113,8957.8%
Industrial Buildings170,990183,91112,9217.6%
Transportation232,000261,00029,00012.5%
Waste & Waste Water23,97217,077-6,895-28.8%
772,769835,01562,2468.1%

Unfortunately, the City appears to be doing little in these areas that make up over 60% of all emissions. These sectors are also some of areas that Our Energy Guelph was supposed to focus on – then the City pulled their funding. And as a side note, in April 2024 the City released plans that could lead to defunding many of its environmental programs that will have a further impact on climate change. 

There are some glimmers of hope including a 28% reduction from the Waste and Wastewater sector. This big reduction is more than likely due to changes at the wastewater treatment facility. In the past, the methane from sewage was either released into the atmosphere or flared off. Now the plant is capturing the methane, burning it to generate electricity. A significant improvement for sure.

What isn’t entirely clear is why the portion of renewable energy used by the City dropped from 24.7% in 2022 to 20.8%. The city says it “took a hit with digester gas volumes lower in 2023.” This could be either reductions in available methane from the former Eastview landfill site or at the sewage treatment plant.

There are some glimmers of hope.

It’s great that the city operational emissions were down by 4% compared to last year. However, it’s still greater than 2020 emissions.

On the residential side of things, the Guelph Greener Homes Loan and Grant Program is very good. This is a residential energy efficiency and conservation program including; building envelope (insulation and air sealing) Heat Pumps, windows doors and solar. 

While the program is very good, there are no plans to expand it to more than about 600 homes. If every one of these homes cut emissions by more than 50% (highly unlikely) it would impact city wide emissions by less than a fraction of one percent. At the current rate of energy upgrades it would take more than 75 years to complete the other 55,000 homes in Guelph. Since June of 2023 over 400 households have signed up. There appear to be no plans to do anything more once this initial target is met.

The City’s 2023 Environmental Sustainability Report can be found here

  1. 2023-Environmental-Sustainability Report
    Note that the City reports on two different calendar years in the following manner:
    “Community” emissions refers to city wide greenhouse gas pollution for 2022
    “Corporate” emissions refers to the operations of the City of Guelph through facilities, vehicles and other sources for 2023. ↩︎

42 Carden Street, 
Guelph, ON N1H 3A2
[email protected]
519-763-2652 

eMERGE Guelph fights climate change by energizing the community to achieve 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.

42 Carden Street, 
Guelph, ON N1H 3A2
[email protected]
519-763-2652 

eMERGE Guelph fights climate change by energizing the community to achieve 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.

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