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Surrey's Climate Commitments

This Climate Change Action Strategy (CCAS) outlines the actions that the City will take, together with other levels of government and partners, to reach the targets adopted by the City. As stated in the City’s Official Community Plan, these targets are to:

  • Reduce Surrey’s community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from non-agricultural and non-industrial activities to net zero before 2050.
  • Show corporate leadership by demonstrating best practices in climate change mitigation by reducing City of Surrey corporate GHG emissions to absolute zero before 2050.

Following council’s direction, the CCAS also establishes an interim target for reducing community GHG emissions which is to:

  • Reduce Surrey’s community GHG emissions from non-agricultural and non-industrial activities by 45% by 2030 compared with 2010 levels.

Jurisdictions use interim targets to track their progress and calculate how much of the “carbon budget” can be emitted while staying within a given temperature limit.The target stated above is aligned with the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change scenarios to limit warming to 1.5ºC.

CoS Community_Corporate GHG Target Emissions_Net_NO 2040

Understanding the terms

Refers to gases emitted by human activities that are driving climate change, including carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxides, methane, and fluorinated gases. GHGs are usually quantified as “tonnes of CO2 equivalent” (tCO2e), a measure of their potential to contribute to global warming as compared with a tonne of CO2. The term “carbon pollution” is also used interchangeably with “GHG emissions” in this report.

Means that any remaining human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere are balanced by the withdrawal of GHGs from the atmosphere through deliberate human activities (e.g. tree planting). This “balancing” of emissions with negative emissions as defined below may be needed to compensate for GHGs that are not feasible to eliminate entirely.

Refers to the process of actively removing GHG emissions from the atmosphere. This includes nature-based methods, such as tree planting, as well as direct air capture (DAC) technologies. Tree planting locations are limited in Surrey’s urban context, and DAC technology is not yet available at the needed scale, therefore it will be critical for reaching net zero to reduce overall emissions to as close to zero as possible, with negative emissions making up a small balance remaining.

Refers to entirely eliminating GHG emissions without relying on negative emissions or offsets. This target is feasible for assets within the City’s direct control, principally buildings and fleet vehicles which have known pathways to decarbonization. It also demonstrates the City’s commitment to impactful climate action. For these reasons the City’s corporate emissions target focuses on a 2050 target of absolute zero emissions.