Absolute or Per-capita?

The targets described on the previous page are absolute, and hence do not consider the effect of population growth. As the population grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to meet absolute targets since the additional population demands additional energy; even significant energy efficiency improvements could be completely negated by the arrival of additional residents.

The Province recommends setting local targets based on the province-wide target, but scaled down according to that locale’s share of the provincial population in a specified year. This formula results in mandates for emission reductions that are inherently less aggressive in lower-growth communities, but more aggressive in higher-growth communities. The Provincial growth plan anticipates steep population increases for Guelph, making the Provincial target-setting formula problematic.

While a per-capita target would produce less disparity between regions, this approach would have to be used province-wide and would need to be revised based on actual population increases. The carbon budget, which is the amount of CO2 we can emit while still having a likely chance of limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, respects only absolute numbers.

Previous page: Federal and provincial targets

Next page: The people have spoken