FAQ about the Climate Emergency Action Plan

    What is the Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP)?

    The CEAP is a community-wide call to action to help align all sectors on the actions required to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve our resilience to the impacts of climate change. The CEAP is a community-wide plan to achieve three main goals:

    1. Net-zero community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050
    2. Improved resilience to climate change impacts
    3. Bring everyone along (e.g., individuals, households, businesses, neighbourhoods)

    Why is the CEAP important?

    The science is clear that the current course of our activities is unsustainable. Society’s significant reliance on fossil fuels, increasing consumption, and generation of excess waste needs to change to more sustainable practices.

    The CEAP is important because it is designed to bring everyone together to collectively work towards improving both our shared future and our resilience. There are also important opportunities available in a transition to a more climate-wise society, including lower energy expenditures, new sectors for employment and commerce, more resilient and safe infrastructure, and healthier indoor and natural environments.  

    How was the CEAP designed?

    CEAP was created by City staff and based on several factors, including:

    • Engagement with the community, key stakeholders and partners
    • A detailed scan of actions taken by other local, provincial and federal governments, businesses and academia
    • Consultations with City staff from all service areas

    What feedback did the City hear from residents and businesses when developing the plan? Were there any notable trends? 

    People were reached over 26,000 times and over 2,700 direct submissions were received, reviewed and included as part of the CEAP’s development. Most attitudes and opinions on climate change were that action is needed now and the scope must cover individuals, businesses, institutions, and governments. 

    The areas that were identified frequently included transportation and mobility, buildings and development, consumption and waste, protecting and enhancing natural areas, and engaging and empowering people and organizations to act.

    Is the CEAP a plan for the City? Or a plan for Londoners? Or is it for both?

    Both, it is a plan for everyone. The Areas of Focus that have been selected help tackle all aspects of climate change – mitigation and adaptation – and create a call to action for Londoners, employers and employees.

    What does the standalone document called CEAP look like?

    Key pieces in the draft Climate Emergency Action Plan can be summarized as:

    • The status of climate change in London, actions taken and the rationale for increasing actions immediately;
    • New milestone community and corporate targets and the rationale; 
    • 10 Areas of Focus, each with its own workplan, covering the majority of aspects of mitigation and adaptation pertinent to London including who needs to be involved and how multiple actions can occur at one time from different participants;
    • The level of effort and example actions required for different household types to do their “fair share” of greenhouse gas reduction by 2030;
    • Key requirements for implementation success; and
    • Leadership needs.

    Is London’s response similar or different to other municipalities?

    London’s response is similar to other municipalities in that the goals are similar and the GHG emission profiles across Ontario municipalities have significant similarities; transportation and buildings are the main contributors.

    Climate change (impacts of severe weather), the risks and vulnerabilities vary more significantly by location so adaptation considerations need to be more geographically specific.

    The CEAP also highlights the importance of implementation. It must be:

    • Focused and action oriented
    • Collaborative and inclusive
    • Have room for creativity and innovation
    • Allow for new ideas and solutions
    • Allow people and businesses to succeed while adjustments are made


    What are some of the unique attributes of London’s CEAP compared to others?

    • Increased need for engaging, inspiring and learning from people;
    • 10 Areas of Focus tackling all areas of climate change and mitigation;
    • 10 workplans, one for each Area of Focus, that set initial directions;
    • A focus on creating jobs, creating and growing local businesses, and looking for economic development opportunities;
    • A strong connection with local academia and the creation of a Climate Change Academic Agenda with Western University and other institutions;
    • Early implementation of a climate lens process to inform decision-making; and
    • A focus on leveraging existing projects and programs, including budgets, to embed climate change actions.

    Why are the Areas of Focus and workplans so important?

    Alignment of where to take action to address climate change is essential. The Areas of Focus and their workplans provide this framework for all to understand the general direction moving forward. This allows many participants to get engaged, develop their own plans, and take action individually while heading in the same direction collaboratively. It also avoids duplication and creates a stronger network. City staff will be involved in all most workplans as noted in the responsible services area(s) section. City staff will lead, co-lead and/or provide support where they can. In some cases, City involvement within a workplan would be limited or is not needed. Champions and leaders from the community and from businesses are fundamental to implementing the workplan.

    Why are economic development and business opportunities so important?

    These opportunities exist within most areas of CEAP. This must be viewed as a priority. Businesses, institutions, and Londoners already spend about $1.5 billion each year on energy. Almost 90% of the expenditure leaves the local economy. Realigning and focusing on existing expenditures is an important first task. Identifying and creating real opportunities for employment, business retention and growth, and economic development in sectors of the growing circular economy is also a priority. For example, transitioning from the current linear, “take-make-waste” economic model to a circular, “make-use-return” model presents great opportunities for growth through modifying existing business models and adopting new ones, particularly in the building, food, manufacturing and energy sectors in London.

    What milestone targets are being proposed and why?

    The City is proposing the use of science-based targets for community-wide GHG emission reductions as follows:

    • 55% below 2005 levels by 2030
    • 65% below by 2035
    • 75% below by 2040
    • Net-zero by 2050

    These science-based targets represent where London needs to be if we truly want to do our fair share to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C – as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Race to Zero campaign

    Who will be involved as the CEAP rolls out?

    The implementation of the CEAP will involve leadership and participants across all sectors in London, from community groups and individuals to employers and employees. While City staff are leading many components of the CEAP, there is lots of space in the plan for community and business leadership. Specific efforts by City staff will be directed to co-creating a community-led, city-supported group to extend the reach of the CEAP into the community and further inform and support climate action in London, as described in the Engaging, Inspiring and Learning from People Area of Focus workplan.

    What are some of the initial priorities of the CEAP?

    The priorities include: 

    • Furthering engagement and education on the shared challenge of addressing climate change, focusing particularly on those groups we didn’t reach with engagement efforts during the development of the plan. The goal is to move people from being interested in climate change to being engaged and taking action;
    • Launch all workplans for each Area of Focus in 2022;
    • Creating a Transportation Management Association to immediately work collaboratively to reduce transportation emissions from personal vehicles (commuters) and facilitate more equitable transportation options with employers;
    • Establish an MoU with Western, intended to set out the mutual intentions of the City and Western to advance their joint climate change mitigation and adaptation objectives; and
    • Complete London’s Adaptation plan to ensure we move quickly on measures and actions that will improve community and infrastructure resilience to the impacts of climate change.

    What are some of the hardest things that need to be achieved?

    Many lifestyle changes are required at the individual level for a low-carbon society to come to fruition and many of these changes may seem difficult or daunting at first. It will be an ongoing challenge to engage with Londoners in conversation about climate change, converge on a shared understanding of the challenges, and work collaboratively towards our shared future.

    As part of CEAP, a chapter is devoted to making changes at the household level with technologies, programs and projects that are available today. This is listed as “hard” because change takes time, effort and commitment.

    There are well over 150,000 buildings in London, the vast majority of which will still be in use in 2050. Retrofitting these buildings is a major challenge, but also presents incredible local business and economic opportunities for companies and individual who do work of this nature.




    What are some of the easiest things that can be done?

    Some immediate actions Londoners can take are:

    • Start a conversation with your family, your neighbours, and your community to explore and initiate climate action;
    • Consider what steps you can take now, in the next month and in the next few years, given your current situation and abilities (some steps will be small, some will be larger);
    • Rethink new purchases and prioritize your efforts to reduce GHG and adapt to the changing climatic conditions; and
    • Get involved in the CEAP implementation; go to the website getinvolved.london.ca/climate and investigate suggested actions that can be taken.

    What actions have the City been a part of to respond immediately to climate change while the plan has been in development?

    City staff have implemented several corporate and community projects to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This has already led to investments in zero emission ice resurfacers, more electric fleet vehicles, compressed natural gas waste collection trucks and many other improvements to reducing GHG emissions.  Community projects include rapid transit, low impact development, West London dykes and new investment for active transportation. City staff are also engaged with ICLEI Canada to complete a community Adaptation plan to help guide future decisions.

    What can a municipality do to respond to climate change? What role does the City have to respond to climate change?

    Municipalities are uniquely positioned to act on the opportunities of a sustainable future through strong climate action. At the same time, municipalities are also forced to deal firsthand with the impacts of climate change on infrastructure that people rely on for basic needs (e.g., drinking water, wastewater, transportation, waste management), so there is even more motivation to act quickly. Municipalities have the opportunity and responsibility to take strong action to address climate change in the interests of everyone.

    How is the plan being funded?

    Investment in climate action over the full term of the CEAP (to 2050) by the City, businesses and residents is anticipated to be significant.  Many actions listed within the CEAP workplans in 2022 and 2023 can be implemented within existing budgets and by using existing City resources (by leveraging projects such as the Mobility Master Plan, 60% Waste Diversion Action Plan, ReThink Zoning By-law Review, Wastewater Treatment Operations Master Plan, etc.).

    Additionally, some of these investments are anticipated to align with, augment and sometimes replace planned future spending.  In some cases, investments to achieve CEAP goals may result in opportunities for net savings, though additional up-front capital costs may be required to realize lower lifetime asset costs.  

    Subject to the approval of the recommendations and foundational actions in this report, Civic Administration will develop a detailed Climate Change Investment and Implementation Plan for all the CEAP initiatives requiring additional investment, inclusive of associated timing and financial impacts of these initiatives.  Given the City’s finite financial resources, this investment and implementation plan will be critical to determine scope, timing and pacing of these additional investments.  This investment and implementation plan will also support the development of the City’s 2023-2027 Strategic Plan and 2024-2027 Multi-Year Budget, as well as future Strategic Plan and Multi-Year Budget processes.

    The investment required to support all initiatives in the CEAP cannot be borne entirely by the City of London.   Support from federal and provincial partners will be critical to ensuring the successful implementation of many initiatives within this plan.


FAQ about the Climate Emergency

    What is the climate emergency?

    London's City Council approved the declaration of a Climate Emergency on April 23, 2019.

    This climate emergency is a call to action to combat and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and to establish net zero GHG emissions by 2050 or sooner. Reduction in GHG emissions is required to slow and hopefully stop the rapid intensification of the greenhouse effect within our atmosphere and stabilize global temperatures to no more than 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.

    In Canada, Federal and Provincial levels of government have established legislation and programs to reduce GHG emissions and increase sustainability and resiliency among communities. However, these are not sufficient to stop the increases in GHG emissions worldwide or meet the targets as set out in the United Nations Paris Agreement.

    The changing climate is a problem that is both impacting all communities around the world and caused by the actions of all communities around the world.

    More information and reports on the climate emergency from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change can be read at www.ipcc.ch

    What is causing this climate emergency?

    Exponential population and economic growth, combined with the energy-intensive modern lifestyle of our globalized consumer society over recent decades have all continuously increased the emissions of CO₂ and other greenhouse gases. The concentration of these greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere is currently higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years.

    The increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the resulting warming is a reflection of the inability of the planet’s natural systems to accommodate the rapid injection of historically sequestered (or stored) carbon.

    How has the climate crisis affected London?

    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.

    How will the climate crisis affect London in the future?

    The impact on London of a changing climate includes:

    • severe weather damages including those from flooding, high winds, freezing rain and extreme temperatures;
    • increase in warmer-climate diseases like Lyme disease and West Nile virus;
    • increase in cost and decreased availability of food;
    • increase in health care costs from heat waves;
    • increase in property insurance costs;
    • loss of biodiversity;

    These impacts will only get worse if strong collective actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changes already occurring are not taken immediately.

    Why the urgency?

    Significant tipping points exist in the earth’s climate system. These include the melting of the earth’s ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica, the results of which would include:

    • sea level rise on the order of metres and disappearance of earth’s polar “reflectors” of sunlight;
    • destabilization of the vast expanses of permafrost in the northern hemisphere and subsequent release of immense amounts of methane, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with global warming potential that is 25 to 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide; and,
    • the slowing and/or reversal of established ocean currents that are key drivers of weather patterns globally.

    Any one of these tipping points may have the potential to initiate irreversible acceleration of the changes to our climate system and we cannot be sure of when these will occur, only that their occurrence will become more likely with continued warming.

    Because the world is already most of the way to 1.5°C of warming (approximately 1.04°C warmer than pre-industrial levels), the earth’s “carbon budget” (i.e., the remaining amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted and still limit global warming to a level of 1.5°C warmer) is relatively small.

    To prevent the earth from warming more than 1.5°C, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to net zero as soon as possible.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(External link) (IPCC) is the UN body established to assess the science related to climate change and is widely regarded as the authority on the topic.

    The reports produced by the IPCC since its creation have provided the world with ever-increasing certainty that human activity is responsible for the current state of climate change. Furthermore, the IPCC has increasingly urged that world leaders take action to significantly reduce the rate of greenhouse gas emissions. The most recent IPPC reports, culminating from the sixth assessment cycle, include:

    • Global Warming of 1.5°C(External link). An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.”;
    • Climate Change and Land(External link): an IPCC Special Report on Climate Change, Desertification, Land Degradation, Sustainable Land Management, Food Security, and Greenhouse gas fluxes in Terrestrial Ecosystems” approved draft dated August 7, 2019; and,
    • The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate(External link)” dated September 24, 2019.

    What can a municipality do?

    Municipal government (local governments) around the world are often viewed as the closest level of government to residents, employers, employees and visitors. That proximity to human activity and resulting responsibility comes with making decisions that can drive local sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction.

    Decisions made by City of London Council regarding land use and transportation have influence on approximately 70% of London’s community (local) 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 climate emergency. And London is not alone. London is one of 1,180 local governments (as of December 2019) to recognize and declare a climate emergency.

    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(External link), the municipal government has direct control (versus direct influence) 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).

    Prioritization of walking, cycling, and public transit over personal vehicle transportation, designing for a reduction in the average distance to amenities from residential neighbourhoods, walkability of civic streets, support for green and low-impact infrastructure development, social safety net and emergency response programs and mandatory assessment of large projects for their impacts with respect to climate change are only some of the ways a single municipality can make a difference.

    Is there debate around if climate change issues exist?

    Yes, there are still ongoing debates about climate change in the media, in academia, and in some political circles. The following scientific bodies have issued statements that are “non-committal” on the human contribution to climate change. These are:

    • American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and
    • American Institute of Professional Geologists.

    However, in the science community, there is a scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and that human activities are largely to blame. The vast majority of national and international scientific bodies and organizations support the position of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)(External link), and there are no national and international scientific bodies that take a dissenting position.