reducing emmissons

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Breakdown

The following is a breakdown of our greenhouse gas emissions for Waterloo Region as documented by each of our published progress reports. When creating the first community Climate Action Plan, a community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory for Waterloo Region for the year 2010 was conducted. It identified our carbon footprint: the amount of GHGs the region emits. 

For a more detailed methodology on what specific data is accounted for in each emitting sector please review the current Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data Management Manual for Waterloo Region.

The first Climate Action Plan for Waterloo Region, which was released in 2013, established a target of reducing our local greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 6% by 2020. This target was a critical first step on our way to achieving our current long-term goal of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.

In 2017, ClimateActionWR completed a re-inventory of our Waterloo Region’s carbon footprint to monitor progress toward the 6% reduction by 2020 target. This re-inventory revealed that by 2015, Waterloo Region had reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2% below 2010 levels!

The full results of this re-inventory can be found in Our Progress, Our Path.

In Spring of 2023, the final chapter of our first Climate Action Plan and our most recent GHG re-inventory was published and brought to all 8 Municipal councils in Waterloo Region. This final re-inventory closed the chapter of the very first community climate action plan.

As you can see with the graph below, our community achieved a 3.7% GHG emission reduction in 2019, and a final 14.4% decrease in 2020 (from 2010 levels). Both 2019 and 2020 data was analyzed to get a better understanding of the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on our GHG emissions. 2020 data was to account for the end of the 6% target and 2019 to look at a year that would more closely resemble “business as usual”.

Although we celebrate surpassing our 2020 target, we are cautioned that without the dramatic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’d be unlikely to have met our 6% target (based on the 2019 data representing as business as usual).

The results and conclusions of the 2020 target are found in the GHG re-inventory report, Our Progress, Our Path 2020.

Since 2010 transportation emissions remain the largest contributor of emissions and continue to increase despite increased fuel efficiency. Changing the ways we move goods and people is imperative to reducing our community’s GHG emissions. 

As Workplaces/ICI and Homes related emissions continue to be our second and third largest emitting sectors; we are presented with many opportunities for energy efficiency and fuel switching to make a transformational change. We can achieve significant reductions despite population growth by reducing energy consumption, switching to lower carbon energy sources and generating electricity locally. 

As Waterloo Region works to reduce our community’s greenhouse gas emissions, a number of local programs and initiatives have contributed significantly towards achieving our 6% emission reduction goal in 2020. On this page, you will find just some of the many actions that have been taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within each sector. Click the links below to jump to a specific sector:

If you are looking for additional resources to support you in reducing your own emissions, check out our Sustainability Resources page.

At 47.1%, transportation is the single largest contributor to our greenhouse gas emissions! Access and incentives to sustainable methods of transportation are key to achieving our reduction target. Below are some of the projects and programs working towards reducing this part of the region’s footprint:

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How our workplaces operate can make a big difference. Together the industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) sector make up 27.8% of Waterloo Region’s greenhouse gas footprint. The following initiatives are underway to make change in our organizations:

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Real change begins at home! The cumulative greenhouse gas footprint of Waterloo Region homes equals 18.4% of our community emissions. Helping us all to reduce our residential impact are these projects and programs:

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Where our food comes from and how it’s made play an important role in reducing our impact on the environment. The greenhouse gas (GHG) impact of the local agricultural sector is estimated based on data available from Statistics Canada regarding methane emitted from livestock. Currently, the methane emitted from livestock accounts for 5.4% of Waterloo Region’s total emissions. Although the current methodology does not include emissions from fuel used in agricultural equipment, crop and fertilizer emissions, or the energy costs associated with importing/exporting food over long distances, these activities do impact global sustainability.

We can strengthen our local food security by optimizing the efficiency of local food production on the farmland available to us in Waterloo Region. When we reduce the environmental impact of the food choices we make, we will unlock economic opportunities associated with a robust local food production, processing and distribution system – from farms to forks. Proper manure management and land stewardship within agricultural resources helps to protect water quality and sensitive environmental areas as well as potentially mitigating climate change.

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Everything we use creates waste, which fills up our landfills and creates emissions. Methane and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) released during decomposition account for 1.2% of Waterloo Region’s footprint. The following initiatives are underway to divert waste and reduce emissions:

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