Urban Citizen

I have seen first-hand how great cities are created by engaged and active citizens – people who get involved to make their city a better place. Urban citizens are innovators, change makers, city builders. With two thirds of the world’s population estimated to be urban dwellers by 2050, we need to get cities right – for people, governments and budgets. More than 80% of Canadians already live in urban environments where there are endless opportunities and possibilities to grow smart, sustainable, and resilient cities.

 

Elephants in the room

Positive Energy hosted a workshop recently on public confidence in energy decision processes.  The conversation focused on public authorities because energy regulators are struggling to engage communities and civil society. The organizers introduced several “elephants” into the room because new social forces are impacting traditional decision processes.  These forces impact many sectors not just the energy world.…

Principles lead the way to low carbon future

It is easy to get distracted during disruptive times – there are shiny new objects at every turn.  How do you wade through the different options?  Tried and true principles. QUEST (Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow) held their annual strategic planning session in early June, engaging staff, board members and regional caucus chairs in a well-facilitated two…

Top Asks For Climate Action released today

Canada must act quickly if we are to meet our international climate change commitments, and local governments are central to achieving our goals. Local governments influence over 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The reality is clear: Canada can’t be a leader without local government action.  I was thrilled to be asked to work with…

Energy transition needs to engage people

In my virtual twitter world, everyone gets climate change and is working on solutions to prevent further global warming.  They are busy figuring out how to manage the impacts we are already experiencing and to be better prepared for what is coming down the pipe. Mind you I follow @climateoutreach, @350, @OntarioClimate, @MAC_Climate among many others. …

Local governments should have our backs on energy security

I am in the final stages of a project for a client.  It is a toolkit for local elected leaders to build more resilient, sustainable and prosperous communities for all Canadians by taking action on climate change. I had the good fortune of talking to a friend about this work who pointed me to the…

Accelerating the transition to low-carbon cities

There is an urgent need to accelerate the transition to low-carbon cities. Despite the best efforts of many cities and supporting organizations, we have not seen the uptake or progress we need to help meet Canada’s international climate change commitments. We are great at planning and pilots. We need scale and we need it fast.…

Low carbon cities contribute to our wellbeing

Part of my presentation yesterday at the Big Ideas, Better Cities conference on climate change focused on the many co-benefits that come with the transition to low carbon cities.  The theme was echoed by several others presenters. When I talk about wellbeing, I like to use to the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) as my starting point. …

It’s the low-carbon economy, stupid

With an economy heavily dependent on fossil fuel extraction, Canada has struggled to find a credible path forward on climate change. Our emissions are among the highest in the world and are projected to increase without significant intervention. There is a substantial gap between Canada’s current greenhouse gas reduction targets and what will be necessary to…

Energy disruption no fantasy

Guelph’s community energy plan has been in the news lately.  Understanding why is instructive.  This is my take on it. First, a community energy plan (CEP) is nothing more than a tool to help a community figure out how to use less energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while driving local economic development.  Guelph’s CEP aims…

Farmers fuel cities

There is a saying I see around town printed on bright yellow posters – Farmers Feed Cities.  Today that means more than food.  It also means energy – wind, solar, biomass, and bio-gas.  Farmers fuel cities too. While in Kingston last week, I took in a discussion on rural communities and renewable energy.  The focus of the…