Population density260 people per square kilometre
2015 carbon emissions4.3 megatonnes
2016 carbon emissions4.1 megatonnes
2017 carbon emissions4.1 megatonnes
Durham has high agricultural emissions and low waste emissions
Agricultural emissions in Durham are higher than anywhere else in the GTHA. But with over seven million residents in the GTHA, Durham’s agriculture only produces a small fraction of what it takes to sustain the region. So, Durham’s higher agricultural emissions only represent a small part of the agricultural emissions that actually go into feeding the GHTA.
Durham has one of the highest waste diversion rates in Ontario. This reduces the quantity of emissions from waste, as does the waste-to-energy incinerator in Durham.
Despite these notable regional characteristics, as in the rest of the GTHA most of Durham’s emissions are from the transportation and buildings sector.
Durham’s Pathway to Carbon Neutrality
Durham has the lowest population density of the GTHA regions, and Durham residents have the highest percentage of long distance commutes (22.4 per cent take more than an hour each way to work [City of Toronto, 2017]). Investments in public transit and electrification of transportation need to take this density into consideration, and examine how residents are commuting within or outside of Durham. Residential buildings in Durham are predominantly single-family homes, so building retrofit policies and programs need to prioritize these buildings to improve their efficiency.
SCALABLE SOLUTION FROM DURHAM, FOR THE GTHA
Waste Emissions Reductions
Durham achieved a 65 per cent waste diversion in 2017 – the third best rate in Ontario and higher than any other GTHA municipality. Durham Region operates a two-stream recycling program which collects paper materials and containers separately, and may reduce contamination of recycling. This may help keep recycled material free from contamination, allowing more to be properly recycled. Although waste represents a relatively small portion of overall emissions, getting to carbon neutrality will require addressing waste diversion rates in all GTHA municipalities, and Durham is a leader in this area.
The Durham region also contains the Durham York Energy Centre. As this waste-to-energy plant produces electricity and waste heat, its carbon impact could be improved if the waste heat was also used to provide heating for adjacent industry facilities.