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.


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.


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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    To promote transit use & equity, why not increase discounts to all Surrey residents and provide free transit to lower income residents, seniors and children?

    3 months ago

    This question was submitted to the June 23rd online Speakers' Panel event.

    A: Managing transit fares is regulated by the provincial government and TransLink. Fortunately, they have recognized that providing transit discounts for people with lower incomes and who can’t drive is a well-recognized action that can both address equity and help increase ridership. The Province recently announced that children 12 and under will be able to ride transit for free as of this Fall. The Mayors Council on Regional Transportation has previously supported transit fare discounts, as a measure to be funded by the Province.

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    In order to provide a pedestrian friendly neighbourhood for residents, does the city plan to reduce the speed limits on residential streets from 50 to 30?

    3 months ago

    This question was submitted to the online public engagement event held on June 23rd. 

    A: Thank you for your question, which highlights the relationship between walkability, pedestrian safety and traffic speeds. The City acknowledges our obligation to protect the freedom to safely travel across our city – that is why we developed the Vision Zero Surrey Safe Mobility Plan. The Plan identifies four pillars of a Safe Systems Approach, and Safe Speeds is one of them. In response, we recently launched a Slow Streets Pilot Project to study how lower speed limits affect driver behaviour, and ultimately the safety on our roads. As part of the Pilot Project we will compare the impacts that 30 km/h versus 40 km/h speed limits have in Surrey neighbourhoods. 

    The City is also currently creating a new Surrey Transportation Plan, for which we identified four bold moves that respond to the community values and current Surrey transportation experience. One of the bold moves, Put Safety First, proposes to build streets that prioritize safety over the movement of vehicles, which could include reducing the speed limits. We are seeking your input on each potential bold move, including the tradeoffs, to help us prioritize key transportation investments over the next 10 years. 

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    Does the City plan on reducing the burning of wood waste carried out at its district energy facilities? It will exacerbate air quality issues and contributes to carbon emissions. Running a low carbon district energy utility will be a key way of demonstrating bold action on climate change.

    Harshan Radhakrishnan asked 3 months ago

    The City doesn't burn any wood waste in our district energy facilities, nor are we planning to do so in the foreseeable future. Surrey City Energy is powered by natural gas, as well as from biofuel from our own biofuel facility. There are plans to transition this facility to a sewer heat recovery system within the next five years to supply the baseload energy (about 70% of the energy) which will significantly reduce our emissions from the system. 

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    Who do we contact at eg, provincial or other levels to advocate for eg building codes such as "no GHG" energy for homes & bldgs", retrofits, etc.?

    3 months ago

    This question was submitted to the online public engagement event held on June 23rd. 

    A: The provincial government has committed, via a mandate letter to the Attorney General, to allow local governments to set carbon pollution limits for new development, something the City cannot do without this authority. Some of the provincial ministerial contacts with direct or indirect authority over this file include: 

    The Hon. Minister George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, ENV.Minister@gov.bc.ca
    The Hon. Josie Osborne, Minister of Municipal Affairs, MAH.Minister@gov.bc.ca
    The Hon. Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines, and Low Carbon Innovation, EMPR.Minister@gov.bc.ca
    The Hon. David Eby, Attorney General and Minister responsible for Housing, AG.Minister@gov.bc.ca
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    As a teacher, I see a great need for more education within the general public and school system. Can the CCAS partner with the Surrey School Board to promote?

    3 months ago

    This question was submitted to the online public engagement event held on June 23rd. 

    A: Education does play an important role in climate action – whether it means equipping our children and youth with facts and knowhow to feel empowered and prepared to respond to climate change, supplying the public with reliable and easy-to-understand information on the role they can play in climate action, or providing training and certification opportunities to expand workers’ skills to match the job opportunities associated with the low-carbon transition. 

    You are not alone in thinking that there is currently a need for more education on climate change in our schools. In its recent draft Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy, the Province proposed actions to expand climate resilience education, including developing learning resources for K-12 schools, and exploring opportunities to raise public awareness. Several independent organizations have also produced resources and lessons for teachers to cover climate change topics in their classrooms.

    We are currently in the process of reviewing our integrated environmental education program, which delivers waste reduction, and water and energy conservation lessons at over 100 schools across Surrey annually (this includes SD36 elementary schools, secondary schools, adult learning centres and private schools). Through CCAS implementation, we will explore how this collaborative effort between several City departments and Surrey schools can evolve to reach even more students. 

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    Why doesn't the initial CCAS report include a 45% emissions cut target by 2030 when the climate emergency declaration referenced the IPCC targets? Since vehicles account for nearly half of Surrey's emissions, why are there no interim targets (IPCC targets 45% reduction by 2030) in the transportation plan?

    Q from June 23rd public event asked 3 months ago

    These questions were posted to the public online engagement event held on June 23rd. 

    A: The short answer is: we are working on interim GHG targets that will be included in the CCAS. The purpose of the climate action framework is to solicit feedback on preliminary policy directions; this feedback will be used, together with additional analysis, to inform the CCAS. 

    • From the IPCC’s 2018 report on keeping warming below 1.5C, we know that deep, urgent reductions are crucial and 2030 is an important milestone date.
    • Council directed staff to assess and propose interim GHG targets as part of developing CCAS, and we are still going through this process. The final CCAS will include both interim GHG targets and related indicators the City can use to guide and evaluate actions across all sectors.
    • Staff are currently working through community-wide energy and emissions modelling scenarios, including assessing several different 2030 and 2040 GHG targets to understand what it will take to achieve them. This includes the IPCC guidance as well as CleanBC’s sectoral targets.
    • The intention is to align with the science done by the IPCC. 
    • Like CCAS, the Surrey Transportation Plan (STP) is still under development. Climate action forms one of the five “pillars” of the STP, and staff are working across multiple departments to ensure the CCAS and STP are aligned with each other, and will set us on the right track to reach our GHG targets. It’s likely the STP will reflect the interim GHG targets, and transportation sector targets from the CCAS.
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    Will the City offer any Municipal incentives to boost the Federal/Provincial incentives to purchase an EV? What about home charging station incentives? Is there some consideration to incentivize Condos to retrofit for EV charging?

    Q from June 23rd public event asked 3 months ago

    These questions were posted to a public online engagement event held on June 23rd. 

    A: The provincial and federal governments already provide various incentives for EVs, including rebates for purchasing new and used EVs, and for installing home charging. At this time, the City does not have plans to offer additional financial incentives. Rather, the City will focus on promoting those existing financial incentives across the community, and will continue to explore non-financial incentives, for example, high occupancy vehicle lane access, and preferential parking.

    One recommendation heard during the public engagement on the EV Strategy was to provide incentives for lower income/wealth individuals who may otherwise be unable to shift to zero-emissions transportation. While no financial incentives are planned at this time, staff may further consider this recommendation in the future.  

    Regarding incentivizing condos for EV charging specifically

    As noted above, there are provincial incentives available for installing EV charging in condos. It is not likely that the City will directly offer incentives for installing charging in condos, since it would be very costly and not likely the most efficient (nor necessarily the most equitable) investment of public funds for zero-carbon transportation.   

    However, staff responsible for the EV Strategy regularly engage with other municipalities, Metro Vancouver, BC Hydro, and EV-focused organizations like Plug-in BC to discuss EV policy issues and how to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles. Charging in multifamily buildings is an issue and City staff will continue to collaborate with others on solutions to this challenge. While municipal incentives are not planned at this time, staff will remain open to this should a suitable approach be developed.

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    Electric vehicles (EVs) are likely to be a big part of meeting our targets. How does the city plan to tackle equity concerns around EVs (charging infrastructure for old buildings)?

    Q from June 23rd public event asked 3 months ago

    This question was posted to the public online engagement event held on June 23rd. 

    A: Thank you for this question. It’s important to note that the CCAS follows the “transportation hierarchy” which prioritizes transportation modes in the following order: walking, cycling, transit, goods movement, shared vehicles, and personal (electric) vehicles. This is consistent with best practices to design the most efficient, equitable and sustainable transportation system. 

    However, as you note, electric vehicles will be an important part of achieving net-zero emissions. Equity is an important consideration, since many people can’t drive (e.g. due to age or disability), can’t afford to buy an EV, and/or don’t have the ability to install EV charging at home. Home charging can be particularly difficult to retrofit in existing apartment buildings.  

    The challenge of retrofitting is one reason the City put a bylaw in place that requires all residential parking spaces in new construction to have the necessary infrastructure for EV charging. This will make access to charging more equitable over time.  

    There are also a few trends and efforts underway that are likely to make it easier for more people to own an EV. First, more used EVs are becoming available for sale, and the provincial government is offering rebates for used EVs. Secondly, the City is installing more public EV charging infrastructure throughout the City, in both existing neighbourhoods and in new growth areas. We partnered with UBC students who built a tool to help staff evaluate potential locations for public EV charging by considering multiple factors such as proximity to existing rental apartment buildings, and socioeconomic factors.

    Finally, the EV Strategy lists several actions related to equity under the Supporting Home & Workplace Charging section. This includes advocating for "right-to-charge" legislation and collaborating with others to address the retrofit challenge. 

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    Is there an ongoing effort to catalog existing buildings for the sake of developing a retrofit strategy? Expected completion by...?

    3 months ago

    This question was posted to the online public engagement event held on June 23rd. 

    A: Yes! Data is a crucial piece of developing effective climate action and data-driven decision making is core to the way the City and its staff approach their work. 

    • Staff are currently working with a consultant to develop a building data tool that will include as much relevant, available data as possible. These data come from several sources (e.g. City of Surrey, Natural Resources Canada, StatsCan, the Province of BC, BC Hydro, Fortis BC). We are aiming to characterize building characteristics, energy and emissions performance, equity issues, and neighbourhood context such as zoning and anticipated development. 
    • The purpose of the tool will be to support staff in designing, developing, prioritizing, and implementing policies and programs focused on existing buildings. The tool will help staff to make informed decisions and develop policies as the City grows and changes. 
    • This tool will be used internally at first. We’re working with neighbouring municipalities, Metro Vancouver, and the Province with the idea to eventually develop a publicly available platform. 
    • The tool is scheduled for completion this year and be a key tool in developing a ‘resilient zero-carbon building strategy’ in 2022. 
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    What elements of the CCAS/Climate Action do you think Surrey is a leader in? Is there an area where Surrey is modeling behavior for other municipalities?

    3 months ago

    This question was posted to the online public engagement event held on June 23rd. 

    A: Here are a few examples of how the City is leading in some areas of climate action to date:

    • Surrey is home to the first of its kind passive house facility – The Clayton Community Centre, Surrey’s newest multi-purpose community centre combines arts, library, and recreation amenities into a sustainable building featuring Passive House design. Passive House buildings use up to 90% less energy, and this building is powered without any fossil fuels, making it a showcase for a high performance and zero-carbon building which has been a valuable learning experience for the City and other local governments.  
    • Surrey has the first closed-loop organic waste facility in North America, the Surrey Biofuel facility, which processes organic waste into renewable natural gas (RNG) and high quality compost. The RNG is used to fuel the organic waste collection trucks. 
    • Surrey is also proactively addressing coastal flooding and sea level rise adaptation to increase our community’s resilience to the impacts of climate change. We are currently implementing a suite of 13 projects, all addressing the common threat of coastal flooding. Two of those projects are using nature-based solutions to simultaneously address the need to adapt as well as provide environmental improvements. 

    These and other projects are important successes to recognize. Looking ahead, we know we need to go further, to make climate action central to all our decision making and how we do business. 

Page last updated: 20 July 2021, 11:54