Nestled between two ordinary houses in Calgary’s neighborhood of West Hillhurst, an equally unassuming blue bungalow houses the base of operations for Calgary Climate Hub (CCH), an advocacy group dedicated to campaigning for a greener city.
It is from this tiny base of operations that the grassroots group embarked on a big mission last year to make Calgary’s publicly owned utility company net-zero by 2050.
In February 2021, the group began to push Enmax to outline their plan to deal with climate change. Earlier this year, scientists with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that if the world hopes to prevent the worst ravages of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must start to fall by 2025.
Calgary Climate Hub had a direct goal in mind: push Enmax to get to net-zero in the next few decades. Robert Tremblay, co-chair of the CCH, spearheaded the group’s campaign to get Enmax to change.
“We focused on making sure that the city had committed to net-zero by 2050, making sure that items were in the climate strategy to support getting there,” said Tremblay.
Calgary Climate Hub petitioned Enmax to cut their greenhouse gas emissions with online activism. Campaigning over Twitter, Instagram and their website they tried to convince Enmax to spell out their goal to get to net-zero by 2050.
Most notably, the environmental group created a public petition to convince the energy provider. In May 2021 the petition reached 300 of their 500 signatures. At that time Enmax also committed to reduce or offset 70 per cent of their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from their 2015 baseline. Enmax said it would meet this target by increasing efficiency at their natural gas-powered electricity generating facilities, offsetting and managing their own emissions and investing in more renewable energy sources.
A big part of Enmax’s plan involves revitalizing their vehicle fleet with electric vehicles and setting themselves up for a fully decarbonized electrical grid.
Enmax is optimistic about their initial progress.
“I think the framework that was established was a really strong framework,” said Jennifer Saldana, director of social and corporate governance performance and reporting at Enmax. “You have to keep moving forward and make sure that you’re measuring your progress.”
Tremblay is pleased Enmax outlined a more detailed plan on what exactly they would do to cut their emissions.
“Because in a way, the commitment to net zero by 2050 really means a commitment to net zero by 2035 for electricity,” said Tremblay
Tremblay was originally involved with the Alberta Party before he found the CCH through a Facebook livestream on their page and became the co-chair during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tremblay says his involvement with the CCH is a way to advance energy transition.
“I feel like I’m in a place where I’ve got a responsibility, almost,” said Tremblay. “I think I can help.”
In 2021, Enmax released their latest report card about their progress. The report reiterates the company’s promise to fully electrify their mobile fleet of vehicles by 2030. Enmax also plans to pilot test two fully electric medium trucks. Two of the electric-powered trucks are in use now.
“Some of the challenges that we’re working to address are that balance between energy affordability, energy reliability and cleaner energy,” said Saldana. “I’m really optimistic that we can do all three together.”