[Recently emailed to Ecology Ottawa supporters particularly concerned about climate change. To get on that list add your name to our Ottawa climate pledge.]
Because of the actions of people like you, the City of Ottawa renewed its commitment to action on climate change.
Ecology Ottawa has now had enough time to do a preliminary evaluation of the plan made public by the city on Tuesday. We’ve consulted with experts so we can provide you with an early summary of the new plan as well as our reaction to it. The plan contains a “short-list” of actions and we’ll be reviewing these more closely over the coming weeks. Once we’ve done that we’ll let you know how they stack up.
Overall we strongly welcome the emergence of this new plan and urge the city’s Environment Committee to endorse it in their May 20 meeting and urge full City Council to approve it when it comes before them later in the month.
If you haven’t told your city councillor recently that you support the city taking action on climate change now would be a good time. More on that here.
In short – despite some notable weaknesses – we are extremely pleased with the new plan. It represents a real reengagement by the city in tackling this important challenge. If successful it will not only help in our battle against climate change but also make people’s lives better with improved transit, more greenspace and cost savings on energy. The plan reflects a candor and depth of analysis which should only be present in documents explicitly endorsed by our elected leaders – as this one is – when there is a political willingness to pursue the issue.
The failings of the plan rest in its unambitious GHG reduction target of 20% per capita by 2024 and its reliance on undefined initiatives to achieve reductions among the general population who produce the bulk of the emissions. The 20% per capita target has certainly been a source of criticism that we’ve heard in feedback. Other Canadian cities have set more ambitious goals and these will be needed if we are to approach the 80% reduction by 2050 target that has been adopted by G8 countries and the province of Ontario. Achieving such targets will require strong collaboration with senior levels of government and we particularly regret the failure of leadership that the federal government has shown.
However, the plan itself indicates that there is more to do than encompassed by the actions specifically identified therein. It identifies five areas of focus and directs the majority of its specified actions to only the first of these five. Other actions and in particular actions engaging the broader community are left to the future but with a planned horizon starting soon after the October municipal election.
Ecology Ottawa sees this plan as a very hopeful start to a new approach and is optimistic about examples such as the plan’s recommendations on district heating, building energy benchmarking, and renewed partnerships to implement existing building energy upgrades. The city is investing heavily in light rail and the plan anticipates a considerable portion of targeted reductions will depend on this project. We’re also happy to see the City of Ottawa embarking on climate change adaptation planning which will help protect our citizens from some of the health, security and property impacts of climate change that we know already represent higher risks than they have historically.
So today the news is good. Your support of Ecology Ottawa and your engagement with city hall in concert with other Ecology Ottawa supporters has brought our city to a new and hopeful pass. At an Ecology Ottawa steering committee meeting held just this week this achievement was described as one of the shining examples of the most productive period in Ecology Ottawa’s history.
The New Plan in Summary
As to the specifics of the document, the 2014 Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan runs to more than 160 pages including appendices and can be downloaded here.
We’ve boiled that 160+ pages down to about 2 pages and you can read that here. Of course one or two details were lost during distillation, so if something in our summary catches your interest, go looking for the original content in the full document.
The new plan will be considered on Tuesday May 20 by City Councillors sitting on the Environment Committee and if endorsed there will go before full City Council likely on May 28.
Again, if you haven’t told your city councillor recently that you support the city taking action on climate change why not do it now; contact info here.
If you haven’t added your name to the Ottawa climate pledge now’d be a good time for that too.
Thanks for your support on this.
Volunteer Climate Change Campaign Lead