The tourist town of Banff, Alberta is aiming for a rapid shift to renewable energy, as one part of the effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050.
“The town of about 8,000 people is trying to reduce its carbon footprint with solar panels, hybrid and electric vehicles, anti-food waste initiatives, wildlife awareness, environmental rebates, and more,” Star Calgary reports. “Banff’s latest initiative is replacing many of its municipal vehicles, including a street sweeper and ice resurfacer, with hybrid or electric models. The town also recently put more compost and recycling bins near businesses in an effort to encourage better practices.”
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Mayor Karen Sorensen said the town already draws 25% of its energy from renewable sources, including solar panels on six municipal buildings as well as the elementary and high school.
“I’d like to think that convenience is probably the biggest barrier, and then cost,” she told Star Calgary. “So I think as long as we can continue to create programs that make it easy for people to do the right thing…I don’t know why somebody wouldn’t.”
Sorensen traced the town’s interest in decarbonization to its close connection to the iconic national park that bears its name. “I think everybody in Banff—residents and businesses—understand that what we have here is special and unique and we all want to conserve and preserve the national park,” she said. That high profile also gives the community a chance to set an example.
“We want to also take the opportunity to educate the…over four million visitors who come every year to show them what a small community can do in terms of sustainability,” Sorensen said. “I think that’s why I love municipal government. We can make real decisions quickly,”