Climate Emergency Action Plan

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The City of London has proposed a more-aggressive long-range greenhouse gas reduction goal for both municipal operations and the community as a whole to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This target will strive towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in London by the year 2050.


COVID-19 Update:

As part of our ongoing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, and in keeping with the Province of Ontario’s declaration of a State of Emergency, the City of London has moved to minimal operations and delivering essential services only until further notice.

Some work continues on the Climate Emergency Action Plan while we maintain essential services. Our events and in-person opportunities to participate in the plan’s development have been disrupted, but we are actively exploring what can be done online.

More information and engagement opportunities involving our Climate Emergency Action Plan will be posted to this page as soon as we can. You can subscribe for email updates on this page where more information will be shared.



The City of London has proposed a more-aggressive long-range greenhouse gas reduction goal for both municipal operations and the community as a whole to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This target will strive towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in London by the year 2050.


COVID-19 Update:

As part of our ongoing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, and in keeping with the Province of Ontario’s declaration of a State of Emergency, the City of London has moved to minimal operations and delivering essential services only until further notice.

Some work continues on the Climate Emergency Action Plan while we maintain essential services. Our events and in-person opportunities to participate in the plan’s development have been disrupted, but we are actively exploring what can be done online.

More information and engagement opportunities involving our Climate Emergency Action Plan will be posted to this page as soon as we can. You can subscribe for email updates on this page where more information will be shared.


  • What is being proposed?

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    04 February, 2020

    To accomplish a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in London by the year 2050, the development of a Climate Emergency Action Plan will involve the following:

    • Reviewing the previous guiding principles, along with new principles to be used for this plan.
    • Understanding that this has been called a climate emergency for a reason; meaning we need to do more now and make our actions a high priority and build climate change thinking into our daily lifestyles.
    • Identifying key partners and groups, and determining ways to engage them.
    • Identifying priority action areas, and compiling details about actions that are already being undertaken by key stakeholders and partners.
    • Identifying the challenges, opportunities, required adjustments, and the steps to lead to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
    • Ensuring that idea generation, the economy, the community, and the environment are all considered on the path towards long-term sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction.
    • Establishing objectives, strategies, actions, measurable goals, and milestones whereby accountability can be assigned.
    • Defining realistic time frames to undertake actions.
    • Enhancing the existing networks within the community and business sectors to foster and grow a culture of collaboration, action, empowerment and accountability.
    • Ensuring that during the development of the Climate Emergency Action Plan, we continue to increase our actions to reduce our use of fossil fuels.
    • Creating a Climate Emergency Action Plan for London with assigned roles and responsibilities that address:
      • How we can reduce fossil fuel energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (ex. climate change mitigation strategy and actions).
      • How we need to adapt, design and become more resilient for more severe weather (ex. climate change adaptation strategy and actions).

    The City of London will also seek to engage and collaborate with communities and partners on its current mid-term (2030) target for community greenhouse gas emissions, currently set for a 37% reduction from 1990 levels by 2030.

  • Why do we need a plan?

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    04 February, 2020

    London needs an action oriented plan that harnesses the community's desires and aspirations to address climate change, builds on the strength of businesses, collaborates with all levels of government, and establishes a measurable and progressive framework where we can hold each other accountable for our future. For now, we are calling it the Climate Emergency Action Plan. The evidence is clear, we all have a role to play. And our success will be measured by our level of collaboration and our pursuit in building a more sustainable city.

    On April 24, 2019, the Declaration of a Climate Emergency was approved by London's City Council "for the purposes of naming, framing, and deepening our commitment to protecting our economy, our eco systems, and our community from climate change." As of January 28, 2020, London is one of 1,325 jurisdictions in 26 countries to recognize and declare a climate emergency.

    There are two primary types of responses to address climate change:

    • Mitigation: mitigating future impacts through reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxides, primarily as a result of the use of fossil fuels (e.g., gasoline for personal vehicles, natural gas to heat buildings).
    • Adaptation: adapting infrastructure, homes, buildings, landscapes, etc. to better withstand current and future impacts of more frequent severe weather events that are created from a climate that is “wetter, warmer, and wilder”.

    The City of London needs a Climate Emergency Action Plan because decisions made by City Council regarding land use and transportation have influence on approximately 70% of London’s community greenhouse gas emissions.

    These include:

    • Planning policies that encourage mixed-use and mixed-density land use (i.e., “growing inwards and upwards”) that supports walking, cycling, and transit use as well as district energy systems.

    • Transportation policies and infrastructure that emphasize “complete streets” that prioritize pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders ahead of single-occupancy vehicles.

    • Waste management systems that maximize the resource recovery potential of collected materials, including the production of renewable energy and compost from organic waste.

    • Engagement programs that “connect the dots” and foster collaboration between London’s stakeholders, given that most of the control over fossil fuel use rests with Londoners – our citizens, employers, and employees. Individual and collective action on energy conservation, energy efficiency, clean and renewable energy is key to our sustainable future.

    The decisions made at City Hall have a direct influence in reducing London's greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the climate emergency.

    Adapting to a changing climate requires taking action to protect our natural, built and social environments. London can expect more frequent snow squalls and river flooding events, plus warmer evening summer temperatures.

    London has 43 km of Thames River located within its boundary and another 85 km of smaller creeks and waterways. Combined with the history of numerous floods, the majority of adaptation work has been focused on the river and stormwater infrastructure challenges.

    London has had five severe flooding occurrences in the last 30 years (March 1977, September 1986, July 2000, April and December 2008). Current infrastructure was designed and constructed on the basis of standards and codes that were developed decades ago. With the changes in these rainfall events and climate patterns, some infrastructure may no longer have the capacity to handle the new rainfall events. Embedding climate change considerations has now become a necessary component of the majority of infrastructure projects.

    There are many adaptation measures already completed or underway in London that will support a Climate Emergency Action Plan. Some of these adaptation measures include:

    • Rainfall intensity duration frequency curves research.
    • Increased public education campaigns.
    • Integrate climate change into asset management.
    • Middlesex-London Health Unit partnership to monitor for West Nile and other vector diseases.
    • Completion of the sewer system pollution prevention and control plan.
    • Low impact development installations (43 and counting).
    • Free downspout disconnect.
    • Update to the emergency flood plan.
    • Enhanced sewer maintenance and monitoring (including neighbourhood-scale precipitation monitoring).
    • Basement flooding subsidy program.
    • Increased number of public shade structures.
    • Enhanced invasive species removal.
    • Installation and monitoring of rain gardens.
    • Increased number of splash pads / cooling centres.
    • Update to the urban forest strategy with a tree inventory and tree protection by-law.
  • What can be done immediately?

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    04 February, 2020

    There are actions that London residents, businesses, and employers can do to take climate action immediately while the Climate Emergency Action Plan is created.

    Measure your carbon footprint with Project Neutral

    The first step you can take is to measure your household's carbon footprint. More than 1,000 London households have already used Project Neutral’s carbon calculator to create a personalized action plan, and start making a positive impact. Discover your carbon footprint in five minutes and better understand your climate impact.


    Actions you can take

    The following “Top Five Actions” for residents and businesses were identified through the Community Energy Action Plan engagement process. These represent actions that can be and/or are being implemented now and will be supported by City-led actions within the new Climate Emergency Action Plan.


    London Residents

    1. Drive less (or not at all) – make more trips by walking, cycling, transit, carpooling
    2. Reduce transportation impacts by switching to an electric vehicle, a hybrid vehicle, or a very fuel efficient one.
    3. Make your home more energy efficient and severe weather resilient– and work towards net-zero energy use and reduced stormwater runoff.
    4. Reduce food waste, especially for high-impact foods such as red meat and dairy.
    5. Go local – for food, for products, for vacations.


    Learn more with CityGreen

    These are just some of the many changes London can make to take climate action. Visit www.london.ca/citygreen for more ideas on how to take climate action.


    London Businesses and Employers

    1. Invest in energy efficiency and low-impact development measures for buildings and processes.
    2. Apply green procurement strategies to the supply chain.
    3. Invest in green fleet measures.
    4. Reduce business travel, especially by air, through webinars and video conferences. If business travel is required, consider carbon offsetting.
    5. Reduce employee commuting – promote cycling, transit, carpooling, and working from home.


    Learn more about how businesses can take climate action

    Enbridge and the Independent Electricity System Operator offer incentives for energy efficiency & conservation projects. Natural Resources Canada also offers incentives for energy management projects.

    In addition, businesses and institutions can join Green Economy London to help take the first step, engage with London Environmental Network for educational events, and explore commuting programs with Commute Ontario.

  • What is the City doing?

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    04 February, 2020

    As the level of political leadership closest to citizens, municipalities have the unique opportunity to leverage that connection to affect real, on-the-ground change even in the absence of strong leadership from higher levels of government. As reported in London’s 2018 Community Energy and Greenhouse Gas Inventory, the municipal government has direct control over only approximately 4% of London’s community greenhouse gas emissions (i.e., methane emissions from the W12A landfill and fossil fuel use by municipal operations), but decisions made by City Council regarding land use and transportation have influence on an approximately 70% of London’s community greenhouse gas emissions. The decisions made at City Hall have a direct influence on the establishment of norms and expectations for Londoners related to both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the City’s ability to adapt to the changing climate and increase resiliency for severe weather events.


    Climate Actions within Council’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan

    The 2019-2023 Strategic Plan for the City of London contains more than 30 specific strategies and actions that support climate change mitigation and adaptation. This is in addition to programs and projects that are part of regular city operations such as the recycling program, LED streetlights, maintenance of on-going energy efficiency equipment in facilities, and the Regional Rideshare carpool program, etc. The majority of these strategies and actions are associated with base funding and do not require new investment. However, a number of them may be augmented with additional funding as part of the multi-year budget deliberations starting in December 2019.

    • The development of a climate lens for decision making, and review of City-led policies and actions to include within the plan,
    • Completing a Climate Change Adaptation and Severe Weather Strategy with a focus on the impact of severe weather on London’s built infrastructure including an updated flood forecasting and warning system,
    • Completing a Climate Change Adaptation Risk Assessment Report to provide direction for staff and council of the City of London.


    Actions to take immediately (January-February 2020)

    • Establish a City-wide target for London to achieve net zero community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the year 2050.
    • Consistent with the direction of Council’s recently adopted Corporate Energy Conservation & Demand Management (CDM) Plan, pursue opportunities to achieve Corporate net zero GHG emissions prior to 2050 with the goal of demonstrating municipal commitment and leadership to Climate Emergency mitigation.
    • All Service Areas to identify immediate, incremental actions that can be implemented with existing resources, and using existing and new tools and educational materials created by the City to work towards the City-wide target.
    • Launch the process to develop a new Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP) and incorporate the upcoming engagement for the Community Energy Action Plan into this 170 process and ensure that the community understands that one comprehensive plan is being prepared.
    • Develop an interim screening Climate Emergency Evaluation Tool (CEET)
    • The interim screening tool will be structured around high-level questions regarding the potential impact to the community and corporation regarding climate change aspects such as reducing fossil fuel use, reducing stormwater generation, and improving resiliency to severe weather events and extreme heat events.
    • Create a new Climate Emergency area on the City’s web site, providing better communication to Londoners on the climate emergency, its implications and how they can assist. This new web site will build on the existing tools, details and processes at the City.
    • Advocate, as a municipal leader in Canada, for climate emergency action at the provincial and federal government level.
    • Advance those actions and strategies identified in Council’s strategic plan that will address the Climate Emergency through existing budgets.


    Actions in the next four months (January - April 2020)

    • Continue community and key stakeholder engagement on the Climate Emergency Action Plan process, including participation in the FCM Showcase Cities Pilot Project.
    • Complete and formalize a permanent screening Climate Emergency Evaluation Tool (CEET) and administrative processes through expert review and London-focused risk evaluation.
    • Include a standard section in all Standing Committee reports that addresses the Climate Emergency Declaration and, where appropriate, applies the screening CEET to the issues that are addressed in each report.
    • Prioritize and expedite, active transportation and transit infrastructure and services with existing budget resources.
    • Seek out opportunities for new funding to support climate emergency initiatives.


    Actions to take within one year (January 2020 - January 2021)

    • Work with each Service Area to review all proposed major City projects and master plans (e.g., road widenings, facilities, parks & recreation facility upgrades, wastewater treatment, waste disposal, fleet) within the 10 year capital plan through the screening Climate Emergency Evaluation Tool (CEET) and, where appropriate, recommend the modification of these projects;
    • Work with each Service Area to review all major existing programs and projects through the screening CEET to determine what should be considered for elimination, what may be changed and what should be started in response to the climate emergency.
    • Identify methods for advancing the urban forest strategy more quickly including exploring reforestation of under-utilized agricultural land within London and tree planting on a regional basis.
    • Establish appropriate tools to encourage cool roofs, green roofs, and/or rooftop solar energy systems and green infrastructure for private developments.
    • Work with relevant Service Areas to apply the screening CEET to review, and make any required changes to address the climate emergency in the Design Specifications Manual, Site Plan Control Area By-law, Urban Design Guidelines, Tree Protection bylaw, Purchasing By-law, all granting processes and other documents and processes that have an impact on the climate emergency, noting that:
      • these assessments and amendments will be undertaken in priority, based on the magnitude of their potential impact on the climate emergency; and
      • the entirety of this process will be undertaken over a period that extends beyond the one-year timeline.
    • Complete and publish the new Climate Emergency Action Plan, which will include (but not be limited to) the following:
      • A clear city-wide net zero community GHG emissions target (as early as possible, but no later than 2050).
      • A clear Corporate net zero GHG emissions target (as early as possible, but no later than 2050).
      • A clear strategy and specific actions to achieve the community and corporate targets listed above.
      • A strategic approach and specific tools for communicating the climate emergency.
      • A strategy for climate change adaptation, with a focus on the impact of severe weather on London’s built infrastructure including an updated flood forecasting and warning system.
    • Elevate discussions with the development industry regarding design and construction techniques to reduce lifecycle GHG emission impacts as well as to reduce stormwater generation through low-impact development techniques.
    • Explore opportunities for utilizing GHG offsets and establish policy for when this is appropriate.