What is the City doing?
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.