The Climate Reality Project Canada and Sierra Club Quebec equip citizens to accelerate climate action in Canadian cities
Montreal, September 7, 2017 — Cities must take a lead in fighting climate change, urged the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at its plenary meeting in Montreal, earlier today.
The IPCC, the United Nations body responsible for mobilizing scientific knowledge and identifying routes to protect the planet's eco-system from collapse, is pushing the role of cities to the top of the list as actors for change in its sixth assessment report, to be published in 2022.
In response, two prominent Canadian environmental organizations have joined forces to amplify momentum building around local climate action. The partnership between The Climate Reality Project Canada and Sierra Club Quebec will see twenty Community Climate Hubs established by year’s end to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canadian cities.
“Cities are the locus of change and must be equipped to take action,” said Audrey Dépault, the National Director of Climate Reality Canada.
Climate Hubs help cities reduce fossil fuel dependence by rallying diverse voices in support of measuring emissions, setting ambitious reduction targets, and implementing a plan to achieve them. Hubs are already taking shape in six Canadian cities: Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, Toronto, Vaudreuil-Dorion, & Montreal, with 14 others slated to launch this fall.
“It’s not simply an environmental imperative,” explains Shaen Johnston, co-founder of the Montreal Climate Coalition, one of the forebearers of the Climate Hub initiative, “We in the Global North must lead by example to help cities in emerging economies leapfrog the pitfalls of air pollution, urban sprawl and destruction of green spaces.”
“It’s encouraging to see federal and provincial governments begin to embrace what ICLEI and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities have advocated for years,” Dépault added.
Recent funding announcements include $75-million over 5 years for the federal government’s Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program, and a one-year, $100-million commitment from the government of Ontario to fund local efforts to curb emissions.
“With some of the financial hurdles out of the way,” Dépault added, “Climate Hubs help generate the public support needed to implement solutions and surpass reduction targets.”
Ville Saint-Laurent Tracks Carbon
The Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent is no stranger to clearing hurdles. Last month, it set a national precedent when it became the first Canadian borough to adopt a greenhouse gas reduction plan, including complimentary transportation, sustainability, cultural and social development plans.
The Mayor of Saint-Laurent, Alan DeSousa, recognizes the value that citizen engagement brings to municipal decision-makers: "Social and cultural support are essential, which is why we’ve developed action plans for each. When diverse groups of citizens and organizations unify their voices, it provides enormous support for the implementation of ambitious policy. We are proud in Saint-Laurent to be on track to reducing our emissions by 24 % over 2009 levels by 2020 while we strive towards our long-term objective of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.”
Damon Matthews, Concordia University’s Research Chair in Climate Science, hopes cities will go one step further by adopting municipal carbon budgets. His work in the field has already informed the solutions that some Climate Hubs are promoting. “Carbon budgets are a powerful tool that, once adopted, create the framework necessary to manage cumulative emissions and ensure that municipalities respect their reduction targets.”
Matthews also acts as Concordia’s scientific liaison to the Future Earth research platform, a global initiative that helps coordinate thousands of researchers working on sustainability science and make their findings accessible to the broader public.
“We all have a role to play in addressing climate change, and similar to researchers, the role of citizens has lacked coordination” concludes Bradford Dean, Director of Sierra Club Québec. “The Community Climate Hub initiative will equip and empower citizens to take leadership roles in their municipalities. It is their voices and actions that will make the impossible, possible.”
About The Climate Reality Project Canada
Is a charity organization that serves as the Canadian component of a global movement of more than 11,000 diverse and dedicated volunteers from over 120 countries. Volunteers have been personally trained by former US Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore to educate the public about the science and impacts of climate change as well as solutions to address the climate crisis. Climate Leaders have already delivered presentations to over 10 million people worldwide.
About Sierra Club Quebec
Is a volunteer-based organization that organizes activities and conducts research. Our mandate is to advocate on environmental issues ranging from the protection of wildlife and wilderness, loss of biological diversity, climate change, sustainable energy, nuclear waste, environmental toxins, clean air and water, and genetic engineering. The Sierra Club was founded by John Muir in 1892, to advocate for the protection of Sierra Nevada Mountains in California and has been credited for creating U.S. National parks. There are now over 70 chapters in the U.S. and Canada.
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