Oil-Rich Calgary As 'Climate Change Crusader'?

<p>Sprawling Calgary, Alberta, may have the biggest ecological footprint of any city in Canada -- and no municipal recycling program -- but will soon supply 75% of its energy needs through wind power.</p>
September 30, 2007, 5am PDT | Michael Dudley
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"Calgary has the largest per-capita ecological footprint of any municipality in Canada. It takes 9.86 global hectares (gha) of land and water to provision your average Calgarian - well above the national average of 7.25 gha.

This distinction probably comes as no surprise. Calgary, after all, is synonymous with oil wealth, expansive suburbs and half-ton trucks, a city whose National Hockey League team celebrates big goals by firing off natural-gas torches inside the arena.

There is one left turn in the city that obliges drivers to make a three-kilometre circumnavigation of a broad meadow of big-box retail sprawl. Such outsized living naturally needs a ranch-sized patch of the planet to sustain it.

All of which just makes the latest development at City Hall the more unexpected: As of next month, the government of this wasteful boomtown will officially become the Canadian champion of greenhouse-gas-emissions reduction.

On a flat stretch of farmland near the town of Taber, about 275 kilometres southeast of Calgary, Enmax, the city's wholly owned subsidiary power company, has built an 80-megawatt, state-of-the-art wind farm for the express purpose of supplying Calgary's municipal buildings and other civic operations with fully 75 per cent of their electricity needs.

Once the entire wind farm comes online in October, it will join a host of other green-minded initiatives to reduce the city's emissions by a projected 40 per cent from their 1990 levels - in easy reach of the 50-per-cent target it has set for 2012."

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Published on Saturday, September 15, 2007 in The Globe & Mail

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