Climate Action Now

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Surrey’s Plan for a Zero Carbon, Climate-Resilient City.

We are developing a new Climate Change Action Strategy to reach Surrey’s ambitious 2050 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets and improve the community’s resilience to climate change impacts.

Climate change is happening here and now.

Here in Surrey, we’re experiencing things like more flooding, hotter summers, and poor air quality from wildfire smoke. Impacts in far-away places also affect us here.

Climate change is mostly caused by burning fossil fuels.

When we burn fossil fuels – like gasoline, diesel and natural gas – to power our vehicles and heat our homes, we release greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. The gases act like a blanket around the earth that traps the heat of the sun. The more fossil fuel we burn, the thicker we make the blanket, and the hotter it gets. Global heating since the industrial revolution is causing extreme weather and sea level rise, damaging ecosystems, and harming people.

The science is clear: climate change is a global crisis.

We know what we need to do, and there’s still time to act.

Fortunately, we know most of the solutions to turn the crisis around, but we need to act quickly. We can reduce the need for burning fossil fuels in the first place, by making buildings more efficient, by planning our city so more of our daily needs are close to home, and by investing in safe walking, cycling and transit. We can use clean electricity to power our cars and homes. And we can protect and restore our ecosystems like forests and wetlands.

Many of these choices will also make us healthier and help us prepare for the future.

Get Involved

Read about the key components of our climate action framework and take the survey to have your say!


Our Climate Action Framework:


Resilient Zero-Carbon Neighbourhoods

What if we could meet our daily needs without needing to use a car?


Safe Zero-Carbon Transportation

Climate-friendly mobility puts people and the planet first.


Healthy Zero-Carbon Buildings

The Great Indoors: Making Space for Climate Action


Climate-Positive Resilient Ecosystems

Our ecosystems are not simply valuable; they are priceless natural assets.


Bold City Leadership

Leading the way to our equitable zero-carbon future.



Our targets

In 2019 Surrey City Council declared a Climate Emergency, joining a growing wave of other cities and countries worldwide. In 2020 Council approved bold new targets to reduce our carbon pollution before 2050. Council also directed staff to create a plan to reach these targets. Our 2050 targets are in line with the global science, with other local governments and with Metro Vancouver. They are:

  • Before 2050, we will reduce our city-wide* carbon pollution to “net zero”. This means we will reduce community emissions very close to zero. From there, we expect to use natural solutions and technology to remove carbon pollution from the air and balance any remaining emissions.
  • Before 2050, the City will eliminate all the carbon pollution from City operations, like buildings and vehicles we own and operate.

The City can’t do this alone. We will need the support and cooperation of other levels of government, industries, and the organizations that provide our energy and our transit system. And we need your support!

*Our climate plan follows the Global Protocol for Cities method. We measure emissions from sources within the city limits, with the exception of most agricultural and industrial emissions which are accounted for in the provincial and regional climate inventories and plans.

Sign up for the Sustainability & Climate Action News & Updates to be informed of events and opportunities to get involved.


Surrey’s Plan for a Zero Carbon, Climate-Resilient City.

We are developing a new Climate Change Action Strategy to reach Surrey’s ambitious 2050 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets and improve the community’s resilience to climate change impacts.

Climate change is happening here and now.

Here in Surrey, we’re experiencing things like more flooding, hotter summers, and poor air quality from wildfire smoke. Impacts in far-away places also affect us here.

Climate change is mostly caused by burning fossil fuels.

When we burn fossil fuels – like gasoline, diesel and natural gas – to power our vehicles and heat our homes, we release greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. The gases act like a blanket around the earth that traps the heat of the sun. The more fossil fuel we burn, the thicker we make the blanket, and the hotter it gets. Global heating since the industrial revolution is causing extreme weather and sea level rise, damaging ecosystems, and harming people.

The science is clear: climate change is a global crisis.

We know what we need to do, and there’s still time to act.

Fortunately, we know most of the solutions to turn the crisis around, but we need to act quickly. We can reduce the need for burning fossil fuels in the first place, by making buildings more efficient, by planning our city so more of our daily needs are close to home, and by investing in safe walking, cycling and transit. We can use clean electricity to power our cars and homes. And we can protect and restore our ecosystems like forests and wetlands.

Many of these choices will also make us healthier and help us prepare for the future.

Get Involved

Read about the key components of our climate action framework and take the survey to have your say!


Our Climate Action Framework:


Resilient Zero-Carbon Neighbourhoods

What if we could meet our daily needs without needing to use a car?


Safe Zero-Carbon Transportation

Climate-friendly mobility puts people and the planet first.


Healthy Zero-Carbon Buildings

The Great Indoors: Making Space for Climate Action


Climate-Positive Resilient Ecosystems

Our ecosystems are not simply valuable; they are priceless natural assets.


Bold City Leadership

Leading the way to our equitable zero-carbon future.



Our targets

In 2019 Surrey City Council declared a Climate Emergency, joining a growing wave of other cities and countries worldwide. In 2020 Council approved bold new targets to reduce our carbon pollution before 2050. Council also directed staff to create a plan to reach these targets. Our 2050 targets are in line with the global science, with other local governments and with Metro Vancouver. They are:

  • Before 2050, we will reduce our city-wide* carbon pollution to “net zero”. This means we will reduce community emissions very close to zero. From there, we expect to use natural solutions and technology to remove carbon pollution from the air and balance any remaining emissions.
  • Before 2050, the City will eliminate all the carbon pollution from City operations, like buildings and vehicles we own and operate.

The City can’t do this alone. We will need the support and cooperation of other levels of government, industries, and the organizations that provide our energy and our transit system. And we need your support!

*Our climate plan follows the Global Protocol for Cities method. We measure emissions from sources within the city limits, with the exception of most agricultural and industrial emissions which are accounted for in the provincial and regional climate inventories and plans.

Sign up for the Sustainability & Climate Action News & Updates to be informed of events and opportunities to get involved.

Questions

Do you have a question about the Climate Change Action Strategy? We would be happy to respond to your question and will get back to you within a week.

Read our Moderation Policy to ensure your question meets our engagement etiquette and rules.

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    Why is new residential construction still using natural gas appliances?

    Pat O’Connor asked 6 days ago

    Hi Pat, 

    Good question. Currently, municipalities in BC (with the exception of Vancouver)* don't have the authority to make specific requirements regarding the type of energy used for heating in new construction. This authority resides with the provincial government in the Building Act. Several years ago the Province enacted the Energy Step Code, which does allow municipalities to accelerate requirements for higher energy efficiency, but this Code does not directly address GHG emissions - a gap recognized in a report commissioned by the government in 2019. Many local governments in BC, including Surrey, have been advocating to the Province for authority to set GHG emissions limits alongside energy efficiency. Recently, the NDP government committed in its mandate letter to the Attorney General, to provide local governments this authority. Discussions are now underway by the Energy Step Code Council to determine what this might look like. We are hopeful that the outcome will allow the City to set requirements to phase out carbon pollution in new construction beginning as soon as next year. 

    Otherwise, and meanwhile, it is still within the City's jurisdiction to *encourage* zero-carbon energy, for example by offering two options - a high energy efficiency performance option with no restrictions on heating systems, or a modest relaxation in energy efficiency if using zero-carbon energy. This is something the City already has in place for large multi-family buildings, and we are exploring options to strengthen and expand this approach. You can read more about that, and weigh in, in this survey which is supplementary to the Climate Action Now survey. 

    Sorry for the long answer, it's kind of complicated! 

    *Note, the City of Vancouver is an exception as they have their own Charter and can write their own energy and emissions bylaws, whereas other municipalities in BC are subject to the BC Community Charter. 

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    It seems to me that increasing the transit options, investing in biking and walking infrastructure is more in line with the city’s climate action strategy than putting a road through the south end of Bear Creek park. I think linking up the various greenways to enable non-car commuting is an investment in our climate future.

    Gordon Powell asked about 1 month ago

    Hi Gordon, thank you for the comment. We agree that walking, biking and transit need to be prioritized in order to meet our climate targets. With the 84th Avenue project The City has sought to achieve a balance of  competing objectives  to meet current transportation needs, by providing a direct east-west connection that includes multi-modal options. In the longer term, we hope that the climate plan, together with the Surrey Transportation Plan, can help to set direction for more transportation options, so there is less need for new roads for cars. Please also refer to the more detailed FAQ response.

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    Why are builders allowed to build multi family complexes without providing a playground or park? Why do they get away with cutting down hundreds of trees and planting a few dozen?

    Michelle asked 21 days ago

    Hi Michelle, 

    Re: Playgrounds - Developers provide and fund neighbourhood amenities such as parks and playgrounds through Community Amenity Contributions. They often incorporate public amenities on the site, and/or build amenities nearby, and provide cash in lieu that the City uses to build such facilities. Developers are also required to pay Development Cost Charges, which are used in part to acquire land and develop new parks. 

    Re: Tree cutting - Development lots are subject to Surrey's Tree Bylaw. As outlined in the Bylaw, permitted trees over 30cm that are cut must be replaced at a ratio of 2 replacement trees planted for every tree cut (or 1:1 for cottonwood and alder). Where there is not enough space on the lot for replacement tree planting, developers must contribute "cash in lieu" of $550 for each replacement tree. This goes into the Green City Program fund, which is used for tree planting and tree care throughout the city. 

    Generally, building multi-family complexes supports sustainability, since they have a smaller footprint, use less energy, and provide affordable options. Building more of this kind of housing, especially in areas close to transit and existing services, means we can preserve more of our intact ecosystems and agricultural lands, and avoid building new infrastructure to service these areas. Read more in the Resilient Zero Carbon Neighbourhoods component of the climate action framework to read about additional ways we could ensure that new development supports our climate targets.


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    Will there be any action to lower the carbon emissions of corporations? We can only do so much, but they are the main contributors.

    Joseph asked about 1 month ago

    Hi Joseph, 

    In short, yes. The City’s net-zero GHG target is based largely on the work done by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report states that the world must reach net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 to avoid some of the worst impacts of global warming. This means everyone—individuals, corporations, governments, and others—will need to eliminate or very nearly eliminate GHG emissions that result from their activities, whether that be driving, building, or mining.

     

    We know that our society is set up to be dependent on fossil fuels, including for heating our homes and getting around. It makes sense that this happened because fossil fuels are powerful energy sources and the majority of people only came to understand the consequences of burning them well after our society became dependent on them. That's why our strategy, much like CleanBC, will have a big focus on systems change, so that it's easier for individuals to make choices for day-to-day living that are clean, safe, healthy and affordable. Much of this change needs to be accomplished by corporations and private industry.

     

    Since cities are responsible for around 70% of global GHG emissions there's a lot we can do in our community to reduce our contribution to climate change, influence the private sector, and lead the way for other cities. 


    Thanks for your interest in climate action in Surrey!

     

     

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    1) How will we ever get people to stop or reduce the amount of time they drive in their cars? Most people drive solo in the city short distances when it's entirely not necessary. 2) Will every home be assessed for energy efficiency? Or will information be mailed to homeowners to decide on their own if they want to make energy efficient changes?

    Anita asked 15 days ago

    Hi Anita, 

    Thanks - great questions! 

    Re: Helping people to drive less. Based on successes in other cities, we need to make alternatives to driving enjoyable, safe and convenient. Otherwise, we can't expect people to make different choices. Take Amsterdam for example. In the 1970s it was highly car-dependent, just like most cities in North America. But after a growing number of children were killed by vehicle drivers, citizens demanded change. The city eventually responded by redesigning its roads to reduce vehicle speeds and create safe routes for walking and cycling. Now it's known as a world leader for active transportation - people of all ages walk and cycle for their daily needs - but it wasn't always this way, it was by design. Similarly, we need to improve and expand frequent transit so that it's easy to use. Today, we have many examples, studies and data from around the world to draw on, to know what we need to do. In Surrey it's a bit more challenging because our community is so spread out. That's why we need to think about not only our transportation infrastructure, but also how our neighbourhoods are laid out, so people can live in closer proximity to their daily needs. Please have a look at both the "Safe, Zero-Carbon Transportation" and "Resilient, Zero-Carbon Neighbourhoods" sections of our survey. The Surrey Transportation Plan also has an exciting survey with some specific questions about road design that speaks to these issues! 

    Re: home energy efficiency. Improving energy efficiency and phasing out fossil fuels in buildings will be important for meeting our climate targets, and offers the added benefits of making buildings more comfortable and improving indoor air quality, while also reducing unnecessary energy costs. For example, electrically powered air source heat pumps are super-efficient (more than 3x as efficient as a baseboard electric heater or a gas furnace), and also provide cooling, without burning any fossil fuels. Municipalities in BC (except for Vancouver) are limited in their authority to directly require energy efficiency standards or low-carbon heating systems under the provincial Community Charter and Building Act. We expect to work together with the Province, Metro Vancouver, neighbouring municipalities, and other key public agencies on efforts to reduce carbon pollution from buildings. In the short term, this might include providing information and education about available grants and loans. 

    I hope that helps! Thanks for your interest, and I hope you had a chance to complete our Climate Action Now survey. 

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    How can Surrey citizens best support and help to speed up the work of implementing policies to reduce emissions?

    Allison asked 2 days ago

    Hi Allison, 

    Thanks so much for your interest in supporting climate action. Here are a few ideas: 

    • Support Surrey’s CCAS, by responding to our survey (and encouraging others to do so also), sending comments to staff, and writing to Mayor and Council. 
    • Vote, and engage with your elected officials, at all levels of government, for example by sending letters, petitions, presenting to City Councils and Committees. This is a good resource for youth and the general public to find out more about how to engage with local government. 
    • Learn more about climate change, and which policies and actions can have the biggest impact across society. These generally focus on enabling system change, rather than individual lifestyle choices. As Jessica Tierney, a climate scientist says, “Climate change is a collective problem that requires collective action, and everyone's relationship to climate change is different. Let's focus on organizing local/state/national/international policy changes - that's how we beat this thing.” Another good resource is Mark Jaccard’s book The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success which you can download for free. 
    • Amplify your voice by joining or contributing (in time or money) to groups that raise awareness and coordinate action. In addition to having a bigger impact, you gain the support of a like-minded community. 
    • Talk about climate change with your friends and family, using empathy and seeking out shared values, even if they may not agree with your views. Check out this great talk by Katherine Hayhoe, about the importance of talking about climate change. 
    • Use your own unique skills and talents - whether you’re an artist, a teacher, a parent, an athlete, a student, a writer, a professional, etc. – to help to raise awareness among those around you. 
    • If you choose to make changes in your lifestyle, home or business to reduce emissions, consider sharing your experience, and advocate to policy makers and suppliers of products and services so that it’s easier for others to make these shifts. 


    The Surrey CCAS Team 

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    The IPCC has said we have to change our agriculture for personal health and that of the planet. Dozens of countries have called for halving our animal consumption yet Surrey has not, why?

    Pat O’Connor asked 6 days ago

    Hi Pat, 

    I think it comes down to three main reasons why Surrey's climate plan does not call for changing diets in preference for plant foods over animal foods: scope/jurisdiction; complexity of the issue; and personal and cultural choices. 

    In our emissions inventory, on which our climate plan is primarily based, we follow the Global Protocol for Cities, in how we measure our emissions. Consistent with other cities worldwide, our plan focuses mostly on emissions that are locally produced (Scope 1), and from grid energy used within the city's boundaries (Scope 2). So-called "upstream" or "consumption based" emissions (Scope 3) are those released outside the city's boundaries to produce, transport and dispose of goods, materials and food that are used and consumed in Surrey. Consumption-based inventories are more difficult to quantify, and the city has much less control over these emissions.  

    Secondly, the issue of climate change, agriculture and land is very complex. The IPCC report I assume you are referring to (SR - Climate Change and Land, 2019) notes that 25-30% of all food produced is wasted. Serious concerns include soil erosion, desertification and land degradation, which result from a variety of agricultural and non-agricultural land management practices. Many industrial agricultural practices contribute to significant land degradation and emissions, both animal- and plant-based. The IPCC outlines 28 "response options" to address these concerns, only one of which is "dietary change". In short, while a shift to more plant-based diets can be part of the solution, many other changes in policy, regulations, and practices, are needed. 

    Finally, diet is a deeply personal choice. Different people have different dietary needs, preferences, and cultural practices. Some people struggle just to have enough food and calories to maintain their health, and may not have the "luxury" of making choices based on environmental and climate impacts, even if these were easier to define. Surrey's Climate Change Action Strategy focuses primarily on "system change" rather than prescribing people's behaviour. 

    That said, in the "Climate Positive Resilient Ecosystems" component of our framework, there's a key strategy to "Encourage agricultural practices that increase soil carbon, restore ecosystems, and enhance local food production." This aligns with the IPCC report by addressing agriculture and land use as a system. 


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    What specific policies can be enacted quickly (within 18 months) after the plan is passed to start reducing emissions right away? What are the best policies that can be enacted in the near-term (2-3 years) to reduce emissions? What are the most important groundwork policies to get started on now that will reduce emissions dramatically in the longer term (10-20 years)?

    Allison asked 2 days ago

    Hi Allison, 

    These are exactly the kinds of questions that will be outlined in the Climate Change Action Strategy itself. Right now we’re testing the community’s support for visions, “key strategies” and draft targets, which will form the basis of the plan, along with additional details to come. Each of the sections of the Framework, which are laid out above on this website and in the Fact Sheets, identifies both short and long term policy shifts that will be needed to reach our targets. 

    Briefly, since our largest sources of emissions are from transportation and buildings, some of the biggest opportunities for reducing emissions involve setting regulations to phase out fossil fuels. For example, requirements for existing buildings to have higher energy efficiency and reduce and eliminate carbon pollution, which can take effect over five to ten years to allow the industry enough time to respond. Enacting similar standards for new buildings can happen much faster. Another high-impact change in Surrey is expanding fast and frequent transit to more areas of the City. While the City does not have direct authority in these areas we can (and do) advocate to senior governments and TransLink for these changes. 

    Some of the specific actions the City can take that have the potential to significantly reduce our emissions include: 

    • Allocating more road space to transit, for example priority bus lanes, and safe walking and cycling. The Surrey Transportation Plan has a survey open right now to test the community’s support for these kinds of measures.
    • Investing in safe cycling and “rolling” infrastructure – e.g. our framework includes a draft target to build a strategic bike network by 2025. 
    • Over the long term, concentrating new growth in areas close to frequent transit and amenities, and making existing neighbourhoods more “complete” and walkable – see the Resilient Zero Carbon Neighbourhoods section of the framework. 
    • Designing roads with more green infrastructure, like street trees and raingardens, that provide more cooling and manage rainwater to protect our watersheds. 
    • Supporting electric vehicle use such as by providing more public charging, as outlined in the City’s EV Strategy


    If we can show demonstrate to Council that the community supports these kinds of measures, there are actions that can be taken right away, for example by updating the City’s Zoning Bylaw, Official Community Plan, Building Bylaw (Energy Step Code), and other policies and bylaws; developing design standards, and allocating budget to build cycling networks. 

    The Surrey CCAS Team 



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    Why is there no subsidies for a home energy audit for low income homeowners that includes a blower test and specific recommendations on where the most heat is being lost as well as specific recommendations on procedures to remedy the situation. as well as rough. non binding cost estimates, so that the home owner can can do some of the simpler tasks, and as they can afford it some of the other less expensive options, as the home owner can afford to have them done

    Dennis asked 6 days ago

    Hi Denis, 

    Actually, there is something just like this! The Greener Homes program was recently launched by Natural Resources Canada. It provides up to $600 for a home energy audit and advice, up to $5000 total in grants to make energy efficiency improvements, and access to up to $40,000 in interest-free loans for deep retrofits. 

    Go here to learn more: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/homes/canada-greener-homes-grant/make-your-home-more-energy-efficient/plan-document-and-complete-your-home-retrofits/eligible-grants-for-my-home-retrofit/23504

    You can also find information about provincial rebates and financing for renovations or new construction here: https://betterhomesbc.ca/

    For example, you can get up to $3000 to install an air source heat pump to replace a gas furnace, or $4000 for a combined space heat and hot water heat pump. 

    Happy renovating! 

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    How does building new roads assist in achieving net-zero? Please explain how allowing more cars on the road, by building the 84th Ave connector, will lower carbon emissions? Yes, I know, it will lower carbon emissions at the intersection of 88/KGB, but it will RAISE emissions at the intersection of 84/KGB and RAISE them at the new intersection of 84/140 (which is located right next to a daycare, where our most vulnerable citizens [children] currently enjoy the benefits of the cleaner air provided by the Bear Creek Park Reservation area). So how, exactly, will this new road contribute to the overall lowering of carbon emissions? I have read the FAQ and my specific concerns (regarding the health of the children) are not addressed in them.

    hmt1973 asked 22 days ago

    Hi hmt1973, we hear your concern about increasing carbon and air pollution emissions. The 84th Avenue project, while not being advanced primarily as a climate initiative, evaluated a broad range of environmental considerations, and sought to achieve a balance of outcomes and interests that respond to Surrey's current land use context. In the future, our climate plan, together with the Surrey Transportation Plan and Official Community Plan, which is scheduled to be udpated in the near future, can set direction so that our land use and road network supports zero emissions modes of transportation.