Climate Change is the altering of long-term patterns of weather identified by changes in temperature, precipitation, wind and other indicators. Climate change results from the release of substantial amounts of greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides, and chlorofluorocarbon into the atmosphere.
This Climate Action Plan will be developed through community consultation and a panel of experts on how to address the impacts of climate change and how to be resilient in the coming decades.
The plan focuses on adapting and preparing the community for the risks of climate change, such as more variable and extreme weather, social and infrastructure stress and insurance costs. It also addresses reducing the community’s contribution to climate change, such as the emission of greenhouse gases. This plan is the next step in moving forward to mitigate climate risks and enhance our community’s climate resilience.
My VISION 2030
I intend to bring together community groups, leaders and our youth to create a task force and develop a collective vision of what Ottawa should look like in the near, medium and long term.
Ottawa is a vibrant community that is built on existing strengths and attracts businesses that work in partnership with government and community partners to create a diverse, sustainable economy. Economic growth incorporates businesses in new and existing sectors that are leaders in creating a competitive advantage through environmental and social responsibility. Ottawa’s economic growth relies on businesses in the community and the creation of new sectors, where leaders can create a competitive advantage through environmental and social responsibility.
Vision 2030 is about identifying key theme areas, many that connect into a comprehensive Action Plan to help develop resilience to deal with climate change and reduce our carbon footprint. Areas for action include: Agriculture, the City’s Local Sustainable Economy, Consuming Less Energy, Changing our Mode of Transportation, Natural Areas and Corridors, Improving the Quality of Water Resources, Improving Air Quality, Personal Health and Well-
being, and Community Capacity to deal with impending challenges.
The Vision 2030 new visioning and themes starts now. Beginning with a community Climate Action Plan that is a resource for actions that address climate change in Ottawa as a priority.
Actions on climate change require complementary actions of adaptation to reduce vulnerabilities to impacts and mitigation or reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Resilience comes from having the capacity to mitigate (reduce impacts) or adapt (respond to change).
Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Ottawa
Ottawa’s main sources of greenhouse gas emissions in order from highest to lowest in recent times are: Residential and office energy use, transportation and commercial energy use. Agriculture, water and waste have associated greenhouse gas emissions, but are lower than the main sources of residential and office energy, transportation and commercial energy.
Regulations and programs to reduce or direct industrial greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage is the responsibility of the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada. We will lobby and hold the two levels of government accountable to adhere to the principles of sustainability and clean environment.
Looking at the sources and components where local community action is needed shows residential and office energy usage, transportation and commercial energy usage to be the three main areas where action can be directed at.
Ottawa’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions (2018)*
* Not including industrial emissions
Priorities of the Community Climate Action Plan
The Plan is divided into nine community priorities, nine directions and identifies ten concrete actions to be implemented within the next 1 to 3 years to prepare the community for the impacts of climate change and/or reducing greenhouse gas emissions from sources in the community.
Nine Directions of the Community Plan
- A sustainable food and agriculture system that minimizes greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring community food security.
- An informed and engaged public that understands potential impacts of climate change and are ready to act to help mitigate and adapt to climate change.
- A world leader in all aspects of energy through our integrated smart energy network that reduces our overall energy intensity.
- A resilient and decentralized infrastructure network that maximizes the long-term benefits for our community.
- A system of land use patterns and built form focusing on the human scale that minimizes the use of fossil fuels and allows us to adapt to known and unknown impacts.
- A concerted action plan that builds on our diverse businesses and institutions that embraces innovation and sustainable practices to achieve a thriving and resilient economy.
- A more efficient transportation network that reduces the use of single occupancy vehicles and balances the needs of all users for walking, cycling, transit, carpooling, and movement of goods.
- A climate resilient water resources and ecosystems.
- A healthy community that is resilient to climate change.
Ten Recommended Actions
1) Support local food production/ consumption by integrating climate change mitigation/ adaptation strategies into existing farm and food plans and initiatives
Help develop plans and initiatives that empower Ottawa and neighbouring rural communities to feed themselves. The City’s agriculture is more likely to utilized locally and in Canada as the autonomy of local food systems and the potential migration of agricultural production increases. We are currently seeing small initiatives pop up throughout the city’s private and non
profit sectors. With support and awareness these initiatives can expand and provide economic benefits. There is a need to integrate climate change mitigation and adaptation into existing farm and food plans at the provincial and municipal level, such as the Golden Horseshoe Food & Farming Action Plan and the Canada Ontario Environmental Farm Plan to ensure food related actions reduce carbon emissions and prepare for climate change and to reduce climate risks.
This Action Plan will involve developing partnerships with the Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Farming and Rural Affairs, the City of Ottawa – Economic Development, Community Services and Public Health Services, the Community Stakeholders Food Security Committee, local organizations such as Environment Ottawa, local Farmers’ Markets, and local farmers and agricultural producers as well as local consumers and local
2) Establish ongoing education and awareness program/campaign for climate change
The Community conversations and engagement undertaken to develop this local action plan revealed a common action and request of community education and awareness. The fact that the community is aware that global warming, over and above natural climate variation, is one of the by-products of a carbon-based economy. Of equal significance it is to inform the public about adaptation measures, to educate people and to inform of any local actions residents can take under this Plan. Understanding of the issues and local impacts leads to awareness, actions and keeps the community informed as new information emerges.
Raising awareness and educating the community on climate change, local impacts and actions involves many local groups and networks either collectively through a coordinating climate change community body and/or within their respective areas of knowledge.
3) Develop a Community Energy Plan to guide Ottawa’s future community energy use
Community energy mapping for the City will be undertaken and there are a number of energy related initiatives being undertaken locally by utilities and local groups to reduce and improve energy consumption, however a central community plan with targets has not been established. A community energy plan can address these issues. Energy infrastructure is also vulnerable to a changing climate.
Community Energy mapping will be undertaken to develop and monitor targets while bringing together local initiatives, utility/ energy-based businesses and local groups to reduce and improve energy consumption.
As energy is a key link to climate change in the community and lowering our carbon footprint. Aplan to address energy consumption in the community is needed to integrate actions towards energy consumption reduction and efficiency targets in energy and greenhouse gas emissions to ensure a secure clean energy supply in Ottawa.
The City of Ottawa, in partnership with the local utilities, would be key organizers in developing the envisaged Ottawa Community Energy Plan. Support to recognize the need for these types of community energy plans and mappings could come from the Province through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and the Ministry of Energy.
4) Revise / update infrastructure guidelines to prioritize low impact development as a first response
Infrastructure is vulnerable to extreme weather events. One of the recognized impacts of a changing climate in Ontario is increased precipitation and increased frequency in extreme weather events such as extreme storms and increased precipitation that can lead to flooding and increased risk of floods in built up areas.
Low Impact Development allows for the infiltration, maintenance of groundwater recharge and base-flow, erosion control and reduction of storm-water runoff in line with naturally occurring hydrological conditions and systems.
5) Establish variable development charges and water rates to reflect real costs of buildings and maintaining infrastructure
With an increasing population and increasing land use can result in demand for resources and services. Although development is required to accommodate population growth, there are opportunities to create compact land use patterns that integrate energy and water efficiency that are better prepared for the potential impacts of climate change and extreme weather events.
Variable development charges would encourage more compact land use and incentivise low impact development to lower the impacts of a changing climate. Variable water rates are an on-going strategy to encourage lower water consumption and efficiency.
6) Create an accessible tool kit for business to assist with impact analysis and business continuity planning
More focus is on businesses who are impacted directly or indirectly, meeting their challenges of climate change and extreme weather events. An accessible tool kit to assist with the impact analysis and provide a forecast is a shift towards business continuity in the face of climate impacts.
7) Conduct a local community vulnerability assessment of public health impacts from Climate Change
Climate change has direct and indirect impacts on the health of communities and individuals – changes in air quality, warmer and humid temperatures, more frequent extreme weather events of precipitation and flooding affecting everyone including the vulnerable and at-risk populations.
Although Ottawa already delivers a number of initiatives that inform and aim to protect the health of the community – heat alerts, cold alerts, smog alerts, flood and emergency preparedness, West Nile, and beach inspection, a comprehensive vulnerability scan should be undertaken to identify gaps where programs need to protect the local health of residents
8) Expand public transit services to include dedicated rapid transit lanes where possible
Transportation is a leading source of emissions in Ottawa resulting in 33% of the emissions in the City. On an average day, residents of Ottawa make a total of approximately 1 million trips, or 2.5 trips for every person over 11 years of age. Most of this was due to increases in the use of automobiles, which now handle about 85% of daily trips (driver and passenger combined). There is a shift required to more efficient low carbon transportation choices such as rapid mass transit and fostering alternative forms of transportation for pedestrians and cyclists to reduce emissions.
9) Securing property that serves as water storage or preserves corridors
Ottawa contains a diverse range of natural features that serve important economical, ecological, social and hydrological functions. Changes to the climate have significant implications to the overall water supply and management of our water resources. Natural heritage is also at risk resulting in threats to biodiversity and ecological functions of the local features in Ottawa. Preserving natural capital and green spaces provide carbon sinks that capture carbon emissions and improve water quality through natural water recharge and discharge. Securing, preserving, and reclaiming floodplains and greenspaces as well as modifying urban property to improve water storage and water recharge and act like the natural environment can lessen the impacts of floods and help capture emissions locally.
10) Establish an ongoing oversight and coordination body to guide implementation of the Ottawa Climate Change Action Plan
The actions and opportunities described within this Plan will require the efforts of many members of our community to move from a plan to reality. Both the City of Ottawa and community partners have an equally important role in implementing components of the Plan. The City and community committee will work together in a shared partnership to act as the undertakers, guide this plan and implementation process to success. A new Ottawa Climate Action Coordinating Committee will monitor operations and activities, provide strategic direction, and expert knowledge.