Climate Outlook for 2023

January 3, 2023

KFA Climate Outlook for 2023

We do not need a crystal ball to predict climate change impacts on people and natural systems will continue to worsen in 2023 – not when we can turn to over 30 years of research led by International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists and the experience of communities around the world.


We ended 2022 on a promising note for biodiversity. The risk of species loss increases with every degree of warming. Biodiversity is also part of the solution for addressing climate change. The new global biodiversity framework established in Montreal at NatureCOP commits countries to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030. This includes conserving 30 percent of land and ocean by 2030. Indigenous rights and leadership were recognized as critical to achieving this goal and Canada contributed $800 million in new funding to support Indigenous-led protected areas. Canada also committed to restore 19 million hectares of forests by 2030 and phase out international fossil fuel subsidies. It was wonderful to see the strength of the nature movement in Montreal.

Role of Communities

Cities and urban areas have a central role in the global response to climate change and we will see that role come into sharper focus in Canada this year.

Local governments have direct control over emissions from their own corporate assets – like any business or organization. This includes municipal buildings and fleets and services like water, waste, and wastewater management. Yet, we know that these sources of emissions only represent somewhere between 2 to 5% of total community wide emissions in most Canadian municipalities.

However, local governments also have significant influence over emissions from the transportation and building sectors – the two highest emitting sectors in Canadian communities. Land use planning, including climate-friendly urban design and development permitting, as well as investing in walking and cycling infrastructure and public transit services, among other municipal activities, are powerful instruments for emissions reduction.

Community Energy Planning

Community energy planning has developed over the last 30 years to help local governments reduce local emissions as well as navigate the many and rapid changes driven by international efforts to decarbonize global energy systems. There is a movement underway in Canada that has been building a body of knowledge for delivering pragmatic, on-the-ground solutions designed to move us towards net zero.

Local governments understand the many complementary pathways to net zero that can also enhance the resilience of their communities. KFA believes we sit at the precipice of scaled implementation at the local level because of the dedicated work of many innovators in the municipal space. They face constant headwinds in Canada – especially in Ontario where their agency continues to be eroded by provincial legislation. However, in the context of the magnitude of a sustainability transition, resistance from the status quo is as much a sign of success as it is a tragic nuisance.