Over 500 Canadian municipalities have now declared climate emergencies. These Declarations often include direction for staff to apply a climate lens (or similar measure) to municipal decision making. While municipal climate action plans specifically detail municipal actions that will impact climate (in terms of emissions) or are impacted by climate (such as impacts from extreme weather events), climate accountability at the municipal level must go beyond the contents of climate action plans alone.
Clean Air Council is working with Ontario municipalities to understand how they are incorporating climate accountability. Below we detail emerging practices in this area.
- Climate Implications Section in Council Reports: Inclusion of such detail provides an opportunity to educate staff from across municipal departments. It also informs the Council of the connection between a decision and its climate resilience and mitigation implications. A key challenge with this is the need for climate literacy across all departments, as it must be completed by relevant departmental staff. Many municipalities currently use the Clean Air Partnership Climate Lens tool, which provides pdf outputs that can be appended to Council reports fulfilling the climate implications requirement.
- Climate Lens Frameworks: Several municipalities are developing Climate Lens Frameworks for specific decision areas to guide the next steps once climate implications are identified. For example, the City of London, Ontario, has developed guidance for transportation capital projects and waste management decisions. Sharing climate lens frameworks across municipalities is essential to avoid duplication.
- Carbon Budgeting and Climate Accountability: With ever-increasing calls for government accountability of climate commitments such as the federal Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, many municipalities are now using carbon budgeting to apply a quantitative climate lens to their municipal decisions and CAP progress. Check out learnings thus far from Oslo and Edmonton and Durham Region and Whitby.
- Climate Disclosures and Municipalities: The risks of climate change are putting new pressures on municipalities to disclose their strategies to mitigate risks of climate change. Leading practices on this effort from Ontario municipalities include using Climate Related Financial Risk Disclosure (TCFD).
Sharing resources and knowledge across municipalities is an excellent advantage of joining the Clean Air Council network. If you would like to share your progress on any of the above actions with your municipal peers, please get in touch with Gaby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Gabriella Kalapos, Executive Director, Clean Air Partnership