Ten Reasons Why Cities Must be Part of Ontario’s Climate Strategy

July 7, 2015

I was asked to present as a part of a panel at the Ontario Climate Change Lab yesterday.  I started with 10 reasons why cities and municipalities must be part of Ontario’s Climate Strategy.

  1. Climate change is serious. It will require both individual and collective action. No one gets a pass including cities and municipalities.  There just isn’t the time.
  1. We are urban dwellers. More than 80% of Canadians live in urban areas.  Cities influence almost 60% of Canada’s energy consumption.  Fifty percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, homes and transportation within our cities.
  1. This is the century of the city. Cities, not nations, are the engines of development and progress. Cities, not nations, are showing they have the agility and adaptability to find solutions to climate change.
  1. Climate-friendly cities begin with smart, sustainable urban design. Smart energy communities recognize that poor land use decisions can equal a whole lot of energy waste.
  1. Local governments are responsible for over 60% of the country’s infrastructure. Local investment decisions are critical to building low carbon and climate resilient infrastructure.
  1. Energy is going local. The structural inefficiencies of a centralized and fragmented energy system are increasingly being exposed as disruptive technologies promote energy efficiency and distributed generation empowering customers to play a more central role in shaping the energy system.
  1. Community energy planning is a platform for engagement and innovation. No other entity, other than a municipality, has in its mandate or direct interest the integration of energy management with community needs and goals.
  1. Smart energy communities integrate conventional energy networks. That means that the electricity, natural gas, thermal energy, and transportation fuel networks in a community are better coordinated to match energy needs with the most efficient energy source.
  1. Smart energy communities harness local energy opportunities keeping energy dollars at home. This increases a community’s resilience to economic downturns as well as to extreme weather events with the improved energy security that local generation brings.
  1. The status quo is a formidable fortress and it has built outposts in our minds. There is always someone ready to take up its rallying cry despite the costs. Without leadership, cities and municipalities need a clear mandate to help them make a difference.