The City of Edmonton has developed its first ever “carbon budget” to measure the energy transition required to become a “climate-resilient city.”

The 2023-2026 Carbon Budget says the city is warming at one of the fastest rates in the world, and that GDP costs increase with each degree of additional warming. 

Moving forward, the city says carbon budgeting should guide decision-making and actions by providing additional carbon emissions information. 

“GHG emission impacts for each budget request within the 2023-2026 capital, operating, and utility budgets should be used to inform financial investment decisions throughout the budget deliberation process,” the budget reads.  

“To support Edmonton’s transition to a low-carbon future, the 2023-2026 budget will be the first time a carbon budget is completed and delivered to Council in conjunction with the capital, operating and utility budgets.”

The city’s carbon planning follows the council’s decision to declare a “climate emergency” in August 2019. Edmonton’s current emission reduction targets are carbon neutrality by 2050.

Citizens advocacy group Common Sense Edmonton said the city should not be creating climate budgets because the federal government already justified its national carbon tax saying it will incentivize individuals to make the best environmental choices for themselves. 

Common Sense spokesperson Will Vishloff said Edmonton is still making decisions on both economic and environmental factors, even though the environmental factors are now already built into the economic factors, “meaning environmental factors are being double counted.”

“The entire existence of this plan proves that the City doesn’t understand how the federal carbon tax works, that they don’t believe that the federal carbon tax works at all, or both,” Vishloff said in a statement to True North.

“Either way, this document is a massive waste of time, resources, and taxpayer money.”

The carbon budget assessed all budget requests for qualitative and quantitative carbon impacts, meaning it examined both the type of carbon produced and the amount of carbon produced. 

It calculated emission impacts for Greenhouse Gasses (GHGs) measured in “carbon dioxide equivalents,” including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and more. Direct and indirect emissions impacts were assessed for low, medium or high impacts, though emissions impact below the low ranking were not considered. 

About 400 budget requests were measured. Of those, 270 were deemed to have direct GHG emissions impacts and the city could measure the emissions resulting from 60 of those projects.

For example, as indicated in the chart below, a proposed LRT extension would reduce emissions by 23,700 tonnes and cost $2.4 billion. The Edmonton EXPO Centre rehabilitation project would cost $61.1 million and result in 3,000 tonnes of GHG emissions reductions.


  • Rachel Emmanuel

    Rachel is a seasoned political reporter who’s covered government institutions from a variety of levels. A Carleton University journalism graduate, she was a multimedia reporter for three local Niagara newspapers. Her work has been published in the Toronto Star. Rachel was the inaugural recipient of the Political Matters internship, placing her at The Globe and Mail’s parliamentary bureau. She spent three years covering the federal government for iPolitics. Rachel is the Alberta correspondent for True North based in Edmonton.