City and Sub-National Action: Climate Response from the Ground Up
Cities are on the front line of climate impacts. And provinces, states, and regions have a lot of say in the way practical climate solutions play out at the local level. As response to the climate crisis lags in many countries, urban and rural communities around the world are advancing climate solutions to deliver more resilient, livable communities for the citizens they serve. The patchwork performance of sub-national governments…gets complicated.
Downtown Vancouver Congestion Pricing Proposal Draws Mixed Reviews
Two Vancouver policy experts are offering opposing views of the city’s proposed downtown driving congestion charge, with one saying the idea is rife with equity concerns, and the other countering that the proposal is fundamentally driven by a concern for equity itself.
In Conversation: Local Climate Action Depends on Reaching Out to a Wider Community, Moffatt Says
Scott Moffatt has been an Ottawa city councillor since 2010 and became chair of the city’s Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management in 2018. In this feature interview, he talks about what it took to get the city’s Energy Evolution decarbonization strategy adopted by a disparate group of councillors, and how to turn ideas into action.
B.C. Leads, Alberta and Ontario Imperil National Results in Efficiency Canada’s Latest Provincial Scorecard
British Columbia maintained its lead as Canada’s top jurisdiction for energy efficiency in 2019, Saskatchewan came in last for a second year running, Prince Edward Island distinguished itself as most-improved province, and program cuts in Alberta and Ontario emerged as a serious threat, as Efficiency Canada released its second annual scorecard of provincial efficiency programs.
Banff–Calgary Passenger Rail Plan Draws Mixed Reviews
A C$1-billion-plus proposal to re-establish 130 kilometres of passenger rail service between Calgary and Banff is earning serious attention from both the provincial and federal levels. But local First Nations, those anxious to protect the fragile ecology of the Bow Valley, and even the Canadian Pacific Railway itself are yet to be convinced.
Vancouver Passes $500-Million Climate Emergency Action Plan
If Vancouver’s newly-minted Climate Emergency Action Plan goes well, 2030 will find 80% of all trips within city limits occurring by foot, bike, or transit, embodied emissions in new buildings reduced by 40%, and 50% of all kilometres driven on city roads emitting zero greenhouse gases.
Midwestern U.S. Mayors Launch $60-Billion Energy Transition Blueprint
Mayors in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia recently unveiled a US$60-billion Marshall Plan for Middle America, intended to accelerate a compassionate, equitable, just, and sustainable transition away from fossil fuels.
Michigan Governor Yanks Line 5 Pipeline Easement, Citing Enbridge Violations
Citing repeated and routine refusals by Calgary-based Enbridge to address safety concerns surrounding the 6.4-kilometre Straits of Mackinac section of its Line 5 pipeline, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has terminated the easement that allowed the submarine pipeline to operate.
Quebec Green Plan Falls Far Short of 2030 Carbon Target, Analysts Say
The Quebec government may have nabbed some early headlines by tipping the centrepiece of its Green Economy Plan, a 2035 phaseout of internal combustion vehicle sales. But once the full strategy was released Monday, climate analysts and campaigners quickly concluded that it won’t meet the province’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Cities, Transit Agencies Urge Federal Investment in Expanded Networks, Zero-Emission Fleets
Transit is having a moment toward the top of the agenda for economic recovery investment requests, with both the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and a national transit consortium urging Ottawa to make it a priority for federal spending.
Quebec to Announce 2035 Phaseout for Internal Combustion Vehicle Sales
Quebec is planning to ban sales of new internal combustion cars, from compact vehicles to pick-up trucks and SUVs, as of 2035, Environment Minister Benoit Charette revealed over the weekend, in what CBC is framing as the “flagship measure” in the province’s five-year, C$6.7-billion green economy and climate plan.
San Francisco Passes Landmark Natural Gas Ban for New Buildings
The city of San Francisco will begin banning natural gas as a heating or cooking energy source for all new residential and commercial buildings—except restaurants—as of next June, adding to a prohibition already in place banning natural gas in new city-owned buildings.
Army Corps Halts Permit for Multi-Billion-Dollar Petrochemical Complex in Louisiana
Public and climate health received a two-handed boost in Louisiana last week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pressing pause on a proposed US$9.4-billion petrochemical complex, and voters rejecting an amendment that would have exempted Big Oil in perpetuity from paying property taxes.
High Schoolers in Wyoming, Appalachia Offer Starkly Contrasting Visions of a Post-Coal Economy
A recent Zoom meet-up for high school students from Wyoming and the Appalachia region was an opportunity to talk about how coal can be the foundation for flourishing post-coal communities—but only if dollars are reinvested back into those communities and the local tax base is not hollowed out.
Virtual Platforms Boost Diversity in Public Transit Planning Forums
As the COVID-19 pandemic guts public transit revenues and leaves agencies around the world struggling to keep the wheels rolling, policy experts are finding hope in the wide array of viewpoints that have at last been given a voice through virtual community transit planning forums.
Alberta Caribou Plan Allows Fossil Drilling Right Away, Delays Habitat Protections Five Years
The federal and Alberta governments have signed on to a protection plan for the province’s caribou that gives them five years to develop and implement range plans for the endangered herds, but allows fossil drilling in some of their habitats to start up right away.
Ottawa City Plan Sets Sights on Zero Emissions, 4.4 GW of New Renewables by 2050
The City of Ottawa has released a long-awaited energy transition plan that has it eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions, phasing out all fossil fuel use, shifting all heating and transportation to electricity or other zero-emission options, and adding 4.4 gigawatts of new solar and wind capacity by 2050.
Building Retrofits, Clean Transportation Lead Green Budget Coalition’s 2020 Recommendations
The Green Budget Coalition is calling on the Trudeau government to include C$10 billion for building energy retrofits, $4.8 billion for clean transportation, $4.8 billion for protected areas, and $2.6 billion for nature-based climate solutions in its 2020 budget.
New York Looks to Replace Six Gas Peaker Plants, Brings Environmental Justice Groups Into the Process
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is considering replacing six gas-fired peak power plants in the New York City area with battery storage and other advanced energy options, and promised last week to plan the transition in partnership with environmental justice groups.
Cambridge University to Drop All Fossil Investments by 2030
In what student campaigners are celebrating as a “historic victory,” Cambridge University has pledged to divest completely from fossil fuels by 2030, and to be emissions-free across its entire investment portfolio by 2038.
California Internal Combustion Vehicle Ban Will Help Automakers, Boost the Grid, RMI Says
California’s decision to ban sales of internal combustion vehicles after 2035 is good news for both automakers and the electricity grid, Rocky Mountain Institute CEO Jules Kortenhorst writes in a recent blog post.
EU’s Retrofit Revolution Could Usher in a New Architectural Movement
The “renovation wave” of energy retrofits poised to sweep the European Union has architects and policy-makers excited for the chance to create a new common aesthetic—one that just may support a less arrogant understanding of humanity’s place in the natural world.
California Bans New Internal Combustion Car Sales After 2035
The U.S. state that likes to style itself the world’s fifth-largest economy will ban all sales of new gasoline-powered cars after 2035 under an executive order signed last week by California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Alberta Surges, Ontario Fades as Canada’s Leading Jurisdiction for Wind, Solar
Alberta is set to surpass Ontario as Canada’s leading jurisdiction for utility-scale wind and solar, with 83% of the country’s new installations over the next five years, according to a new analysis by Oslo-based Rystad Energy.
Regina Researchers Urge City to Focus on Equity in Climate Planning
When you think of Regina, you might imagine a city that depends heavily on cars. But when University of Regina professor Emily Eaton gathered a focus group representing community-based organizations throughout the city to discuss how a transition to net-zero carbon emissions might affect communities that have experienced marginalization, she heard another story.
Sustainable City Investments Drive COVID-19 Recovery, Global Coalition Concludes
Municipalities are the cornerstone of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and low-carbon investments and infrastructure will deliver the jobs, resilience, and support for marginalized and vulnerable populations the Trudeau government is expected to emphasize in its Speech from the Throne next week, according to the lead author of a new report on greening the global recovery through cities.
Move Toward EVs Not Enough to Mitigate Ride-Hailing Emissions
While recent pledges by Lyft and Uber to electrify their entire Canadian fleets by 2030 are laudable, public policy is still needed to tackle the growing spike in emissions as a pandemic-wary public increasingly turns away from transit and toward ride-hailing.
Replace Pickering Nuclear Plant with Renewables, Not Gas, OCAA Urges
The impending closure of Ontario’s Pickering Nuclear Station is an opportunity to build a sustainable energy system based on sound energy efficiency programs, investment in local renewables, and hydroelectric power held in the public control—not ramped-up gas power generation, says the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.
New Jersey Unveils Plan to Become ‘Wind Turbine Capital’
Determined to be for wind energy what Texas is to fossil fuels, New Jersey has announced plans to become the go-to state for the production of offshore wind turbines, beginning with the construction of a giant port along the Delaware River.
Squamish District Declares Woodfibre LNG ‘Unwelcome’ Unless It Meets Paris Targets
The Woodfibre LNG liquefied natural gas project should be unwelcome in Squamish, British Columbia unless it can align with the greenhouse gas reduction goals in the 2015 Paris Agreement, district councillors decided earlier this month, in a hotly-debated preliminary motion adopted by a 4-3 margin.
Subnational Leadership ‘Essential’ in Climate, COVID-19 Crises
Informed, cooperative, and compassionate bipartisan leadership at all governmental levels is helping U.S. citizens weather the pandemic, just as such subnational leadership has proven to be an essential agent in the climate crisis fight.
Quebec to Double Climate Spending Through 2026, But Details Still to Follow
The Quebec government released a budget yesterday that doubles spending on climate change to C$6.2 billion over six years, beginning in 2021, using surplus power from provincial utility Hydro-Québec to drive a 37.5% emissions reduction from 1990 levels by 2030. But details of the plan are still months away, and two major environmental groups say it doesn’t go nearly far enough.
Virginia Legislation Enshrines 100% RE Target, Limits Utility Charges for Early Fossil Closures
The latest session of the Virginia state legislature ended with a flurry of activity on renewable energy, climate change, and grid renewal, including a 100% renewable energy target, one of the most ambitious energy storage targets in the United States, a carbon cap-and-trade program compatible with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and a bill aimed at putting ratepayers first as mammoth utility Dominion Energy moves to shut down high-emitting coal- and gas-fired power plants.
Ontario Climate Hawks Join City Council to Oppose Fracked Gas Pipeline Through Hamilton [Sign-On]
The City of Hamilton and Ontario climate organizations are mobilizing against a 10-kilometre pipeline that would carry fracked gas from the United States and increase the province’s reliance on carbon-heavy natural gas power plants.
Making good on its pledge to expand into clean energy while shrinking its reliance on coal, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is increasing its share of solar generation by a whopping 44% with new contracts announced earlier this month.
New Canadian Climate Institute Warns of ‘Harsh Realities’ Ahead
The new Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (CICC), an independent think tank that begins life with C$20 million in federal funding over five years, is warning of the harsh realities and global economic shifts the country will face as the climate crisis evolves.
Jurisdictions with Net Zero Plans or Aspirations Now Produce 40% of Global GDP
About 40% of the world’s economic activity, totalling US$34.6 trillion, now takes place in jurisdictions that have adopted or proposed plans to bring their carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 or before, according to analysis released last week by the UK’s Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU).
Virginia Set to Embrace Carbon-Free Energy, Join RGGI After Democrats Win Legislative Majority
Virginia is on track to accelerate its drive for carbon-free energy and join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the northeastern United States, after Democrats took control of the state legislature in off-year elections last week.
Energy Transition Plan Shows Nova Scotia Cutting Emissions 50%, Creating 15,000 Green Jobs by 2030
Supplying 90% of Nova Scotia’s electricity from renewable sources, cutting energy consumption in social housing 60%, tripling energy efficiency in the electricity sector, electrifying personal and public transportation, cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half, and creating 15,000 green jobs are the key 2030 targets in a plan for the renewal of the province’s Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, released this week by the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre.
Copenhagen Sets a Global Standard with 2025 Carbon Neutrality Goal
A vision of a “five-minute city”, restrictions on polluting cars, an awesomely effective transit system, and a shift to renewable energy are centrepieces of the effort to make bicycle-friendly Copenhagen a carbon-neutral city, a couple of decades ahead of most other leading municipalities and just a dozen years after it first set its 2025 target.
California Cuts Carbon Even Faster Than Ambitious State Mandate
California is cutting its greenhouse gas emissions even faster than state regulations require, and produced more electricity from renewable energy than from fossil fuels for the first time in 2017, according to data released earlier this month.
Quebec’s Legault Promises 40% Cut in Oil Consumption by 2030
Quebec will invest massively to cut its oil consumption 40% by 2030 and shift transportation, buildings, and businesses to electricity, Premier François Legault announced Sunday, during his party’s general council meeting in Montreal.
100 Resilient Cities Closure Shows Limits of Climate Philanthropy
In the spring of 2013, the Rockefeller Foundation—the hundred-year-old charitable organization started by Standard Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller—launched an ambitious program to help cities around the world adapt to the physical, social, and economic challenges of the 21st century. Known as 100 Resilient Cities, the initiative was designed largely to address challenges of urban population growth and the increasing threat posed by climate change.
Montreal Mayor Promises New Climate Action But Critics Call for More
Montreal’s city administration is vowing to get tougher on fossil-fueled heating and fossil company divestment, but its climate plan has already led to the defection of one borough mayor who plans to advocate for faster, deeper carbon cuts as a private citizen.
Ottawa, Toronto, Burlington, and Victoria Step Up with New Action on Climate
Four Canadian cities have stepped up their action on climate change in the last week, with Ottawa and Burlington, Ontario declaring a climate emergency, Toronto considering climate liability action against major fossil polluters, and Victoria endorsing free transit across B.C.’s Capital Regional District.
New York Passes Landmark Bill to Cut Buildings’ Carbon Emissions, Energy Use
New York City has adopted a plan to reduce carbon pollution from large buildings by 40% from 2005 levels by 2030—roughly a 26% cut from present-day emissions—with an approach that limits the cost to low-income residents and creates local jobs.
Connect Infrastructure Planning with Climate Crisis, Analysts Urge U.S. Legislators
Linking infrastructure policy with the climate crisis, introducing more low-carbon transit, and incorporating more nature in infrastructure design are all key steps in addressing the urban sprawl that is one of the underlying causes of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions.
Kingston Becomes First Ontario City to Declare Climate Emergency
Kingston has become the first Ontario community to declare a climate emergency, after city council adopted a resolution Tuesday “for the purposes of naming, framing, and deepening our commitment to protecting our economy, our ecosystems, and our community from climate change,” the Whig-Standard reports.
Green New Deal Brings Climate Transition to the Mainstream, Omits Key Issue of Urban Sprawl
With supporters hailing U.S. Democrats’ Green New Deal resolution as a breakthrough and some of its predictable opponents declaring it wildly unrealistic, a handful of analysts are pointing to an important omission in the plan unveiled last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).
Opponents Jubilant as Port of Vancouver Cancels 2015 Coal Transfer Permit
The Port of Vancouver has cut off a potential gateway for thermal coal from the United States with a decision to cancel its permit for a coal transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks, following adamant opposition from residents of Surrey and New Westminster.
Halifax Declares Climate Emergency, Aims for Net Zero Carbon Before 2050
The Halifax Regional Municipality became the third major city in Canada to declare climate change an emergency, after regional council unanimously adopted a motion yesterday that gives city staff a year to come back with an updated action plan.
Vancouver City Council Declares Climate Emergency, Seeks Faster Push to Net Zero Emissions
Vancouver City Council voted unanimously last Wednesday evening to declare a climate emergency and gave city staff 90 days to “come up with new ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and set new climate change targets,” Global News reports.
LNG Canada Megaproject Leaves Massive Emissions Gap in B.C. Climate Plan
The positive directions in British Columbia’s new climate plan will be offset by the greenhouse gas emissions from the C$40-billion LNG Canada liquefied natural gas megaproject, particularly if both phases of the project are built, data analyst Barry Saxifrage concludes in a post for National Observer.
Vipond and Keough: Alberta Can’t Win by Postponing the Transition Off Carbon
With climate change setting the house on fire (literally or metaphorically), it’s in Alberta’s best interest not to demand more lighters, Calgary emergency physician Joe Vipond and sustainable design professor Noel Keough argue in a year-end opinion piece for the Calgary Herald.
London Mayor Khan Declares Climate Emergency, Pushes Carbon Neutral Deadline from 2050 to 2030
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is declaring a climate emergency and calling for more urgent action by the UK government “to avert an ecological breakdown that he says poses an existential threat to future generations,” The Guardian reports.
Foundations, C40 Cities to Help Montreal Deliver on 2050 Carbon Neutral Target
The David Suzuki Foundation, C40 Cities, and the Trottier Family Foundation have formed a two-year partnership with Montreal to help it meet Mayor Valérie Plante’s goal of making the city carbon neutral by 2050.
B.C. Climate Plan Lays Out Rapid Shift from Fossil Energy to Electricity
Higher carbon prices and measures to shift individuals and industry off fossil fuels are key pillars of CleanBC, the new climate action plan unveiled last week by the provincial government in British Columbia.
Ontario Receives Failing Grades for Climate Plan, Misses Business Case for Environmental Commissioner’s Office
The Doug Ford government is receiving failing grades for the scantly-detailed climate plan released late last month by Environment Minister Rod Phillips, while a former senior official argues a strong business case for the Office of the Environmental Commissioner (OCE) after Team Ford decided to shut the office down.
B.C. Introduces 2040 Deadline for 100% ZEVs, but National Mandate Still Lacking
British Columbia has announced a 2040 deadline for all new cars and trucks sold in the province to be zero-emission, but the overall impact of the province’s move may be limited by the lack of a national electric vehicle mandate.
200 MNAs and Past Candidates, Massive Petition Response Press Quebec Government for Climate Action
While newly-elected Premier François Legault muses about offering “the deal of the century” to neighbouring provinces and states interested in buying some of Quebec’s surplus electricity, his Coalition Avenir Québec government is facing extraordinary pressure to deliver on an ambitious plan to tackle climate change.
Hurricane Prompts North Carolina to Set 40% Emissions Reduction Target by 2025
Prompted by the killer hurricane the temporarily turned his state into an archipelago, Governor Roy Cooper (D) signed an executive order Monday requiring North Carolina to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below 2005 levels by 2025.
Mayors Urge Faster Phaseout of Gasoline, Diesel Cars
The mayors of Paris, Copenhagen, Seoul, and Medellín are urging automakers to stop building gasoline and diesel cars as soon as possible, following a World Health Organization report that found 630 million children around the world are exposed to unsafe air.
Ford Climate Cuts Throw Away ‘Lowest-Cost Pathways’, Environmental Commissioner Warns
The Doug Ford government is on track to reverse reductions in Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) between 2005 and 2016 and throw away the lowest-cost pathways to a sustainable economy, according to the annual report published yesterday by Ontario Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe.
Brown Renews Pledge to ‘Launch Our Own Damn Satellite’ as Summit Urges Faster Climate Action
After three days of new low-carbon commitments from regional governments, cities, and industry, the Global Climate Action Summit concluded Friday with a call for governments to step up their climate ambition, and renewed pressure on California Governor Jerry Brown to suspend new fossil fuel permits and protect front-line communities in the state that hosted the landmark international event.
Flurry of Low-Carbon Announcements Marks First Day of Global Climate Action Summit
The Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco is entering its second day, with media and other observers scrambling to keep up with a cascade of carbon reduction announcements and commitments. Climate Nexus is live-blogging the news as it breaks.
California Must Go All-In on Energy Efficiency to Hit 100% Carbon-Free Target
Just a few days before Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation committing California to producing 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045, an analysis showed the state will only hit the target by going all-in on energy efficiency.
Climate Action in Cities Could Create 13.7 Million Jobs, Prevent 1.3 Million Premature Deaths
Cities around the world could create 13.7 million jobs and prevent 1.3 million premature deaths per year by 2030 by pursuing “ambitious urban climate policies” that “vastly reduce carbon emissions globally,” according to a report released over the weekend by C40 Cities, the Global Covenant of Mayors, and the NewClimate Institute.
Cities, States, Businesses Drive Down U.S. Carbon Pollution While Trump Prepares to Deregulate Methane Emissions
While the Trump administration prepares to undercut Obama-era controls on methane emissions from oil and gas operations, more than 3,000 U.S, cities, states, businesses, investors, counties, regional associations, faith communities, and post-secondary institutions are on track to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 17%—and possibly by as much as 24%, bringing the country close to meeting its promised target under the Paris Agreement.
Coal is the Challenge as Orlando, Florida Pushes Toward 100% Carbon-Free Target
From floating solar panels atop thousands of storm runoff ponds, to LED lamps on city streetlights, to algae ponds to capture and sequester carbon, the city of Orlando, Florida is pushing toward a 2050 deadline to produce all its electricity from carbon-free sources—while acknowledging that setting ambitious targets is a lot easier than meeting them.
Subnational Governments Can’t Go It Alone on Climate Action
Without renewed ambition at the national level—and most urgently by the United States—the very best efforts by cities, regional governments, and the private sector to rein in greenhouse gas emissions will be insufficient to avoid dangerous levels of atmospheric warming, according to a recent data analytics study by an international team of researchers and programmers.
Climate Solutions Promise $26 Trillion in Benefits as Global Economy Hits ‘Use It or Lose It Moment’
The “bold action” needed to address the climate crisis could deliver at least US$26 trillion in economic benefits through 2030, while producing more than 65 million low-carbon jobs, preventing 700,000 premature deaths, and generating $2.8 trillion in government revenues in that year, according to a blockbuster report issued this morning by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
California Climate Assessment Flags ‘Apocalyptic Threat’, Practical Solutions
Pointing to what Governor Jerry Brown calls an “apocalyptic threat”, a new report and call to action paints a dire picture of California’s future if the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change are not brought under control.
Dauncey: ‘Timid’ B.C. Intention Papers Do Little to Boost Climate Action
With its recently-published series of “intention papers” on clean growth, British Columbia’s government is showing too much timidity and not enough initiative to counter the fear and cynicism that have begun to accumulate in response to the climate crisis, renewable energy veteran Guy Dauncey writes, in a blog post subsequent republished by The Tyee.
19 Cities, Combined Population 130 Million, Pledge Net-Zero Carbon Buildings by 2030
Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver are three of 19 cities around the world whose mayors have promised to ensure that all new buildings in their communities are net-zero carbon by 2030—and that all their cities’ buildings, old and new, meet a net-zero standard by 2050.
Ontario Plans New ‘Regulatory Plan’ on GHGs, But Won’t Commit to Paris Targets
Ontario is planning to introduce a new “regulatory plan” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but won’t commit to a timeline or to aligning that plan with Canada’s targets under the Paris Agreement, the Globe and Mail reports.
Cities Must Act to Help Poorest, Most Vulnerable Prepare for Climate Impacts
Increasing economic opportunities, making clean energy more accessible, and making disaster preparedness a priority are the three crucial steps cities can take through an environmental justice lens to help their most vulnerable, lowest-income residents prepare for climate change, according to a recent Climate Reality Project primer published by CleanTechnica.
Mayors Plan Joint Bids for Renewables to ‘Help Power Our Cities’
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, co-chair of the 400-member Climate Mayors network, is inviting his counterparts in other U.S. cities to share their energy demand data, as a first step in pooling their requests for project cost estimates from renewable energy developers.
Wealthiest Cities Hold Key to Fast, Effective Climate Action
Researchers from Norway, Sweden, Japan, and the United States are pointing to the world’s big, affluent cities—with both huge carbon footprints, and the institutional capacity and infrastructure to shrink them rapidly—as the key to avoiding catastrophic global warming.
Quebec Bans Fracking, Restricts Fossil Drilling, But Enviros Question the Details
Quebec is moving to ban fracking for shale gas and protect 13 waterways from oil and gas exploration, CBC News reports. But major environmental groups are warning that the plan won’t offer the protection the province needs.
Ohio Energy Innovation Study Foresees 20,000 Jobs, $25 Billion in New Investment
A new energy innovation plan that emphasizes electric vehicles, solar, and energy efficiency could bring 20,000 jobs and US$25 billion in new investment to the state of Ohio, according to a report released last week.
B.C. Dodges Accountability, Action with New Climate Legislation, Pundit Charges
British Columbia’s new Climate Change Accountability Act is more like “an act to avoid it”, empowering the provincial environment minister to set sectoral emissions targets that a future minister can just as easily repeal, writes Martyn Brown, chief of staff to former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell, in a scathing analysis for The Georgia Straight.
B.C. Aims for 60% by 2040, Promises Full Climate Plan This Fall
British Columbia is committing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 40% from 2007 levels by 2030, 60% by 2040, and 80% by 2050 in legislation tabled Monday by Environment and Climate Minister George Heyman.
National Mandates, City-to-City Networking Build Stronger EU Climate Plans
Cities need a combination of national mandates to develop local action plans and opportunities to share best practices with other communities if they are to arrive at robust, forward-looking local responses to climate change, according to a new study of climate initiatives in 885 European municipalities.
Climate Report Card for Ontario Cities Reveals Need for Provincial Leadership
The Urban Climate Alliance (UCA) has released its first climate action plan report card for five Ontario cities—and results are unsatisfactory, with all struggling especially from underfunding, and all in need of support from Queen’s Park.
Everyday Consumer Goods Drive Up Cities’ Carbon Footprint by 60%
Municipal greenhouse gas emissions are 60% higher than city planners assume, after factoring in items that residents consume but are produced outside city limits, according to a study released by C40 Cities during this week’s IPCC Cities and Climate Change Science Conference in Edmonton.
2,500 Cities Back Climate Action, as Legislators from 45 States ‘Explicitly Refuse’ to Stand with Trump
With 2,500 cities around the world and politicians in 45 U.S. states onboard, the march toward implementation of the Paris agreement is continuing in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s decision to blunder his country out of the landmark global deal.
Just hours after Donald Trump sought to justify his withdrawal from the landmark global climate agreement by noting he was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced his city would shift to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2035.
World Leaders Respond, U.S. States and Cities Step Up as Trump Blunders Out of Paris Agreement
Successive waves of reaction from world leaders, U.S. states and cities, businesses, and climate analysts and activists greeted Donald Trump’s announcement Thursday afternoon that he will withdraw the United States from the landmark global climate deal that 195 countries negotiated in Paris in 2015. The overwhelming message: The rest of the world (apart from traditional U.S. allies Syria and Nicaragua) is getting on with the job of implementing the Paris agreement. U.S. states, cities, universities, and businesses will submit their own plan for meeting their country’s Paris targets. And if Trump thinks he can step away from Paris to negotiate a better deal for Americans, he’s about to crash into the harsh, intractable reality of international diplomacy.
UN Urges Business, Cities, Sub-Nationals to Step Up as U.S. Climate Commitment Fades
Businesses, cities, and sub-national governments must keep up the momentum for greenhouse gas reductions in jurisdictions where national leadership is flagging, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged last week, in a statement that made no direct mention of the United States but acknowledged that some countries are backsliding in their commitments to implement the landmark Paris agreement.
From LA to Boston, Paris to Cape Town, Cities Gear Up for Climate Action
Within minutes of a shocking U.S. election result November 9, cities were stepping up as one of the key bricks in the firewall against Donald Trump’s expected efforts to gut climate action at home and undermine carbon reduction commitments around the world.
With Trump now seated in the White House, America’s municipal leaders are gearing up to protect their own autonomy in an area of activity that is far less partisan at the local level than it has become in Washington, DC. And in a letter this morning in the Financial Times, the mayors of four of the world’s larger cities—Paris, Tokyo, Cape Town, and Sydney, Australia—are affirming their plans to continue transforming their infrastructure to combat climate change, and pointing to the benefits they expect their communities to reap as a result.
In the nearly two months since a stunning election result in the United States, cities have emerged as one of the focal points for continuing and intensifying the climate and energy action that will be needed over the next four years—across the U.S., and around the world.
U.S. Cities Rally to Deliver Climate Solutions, Ask Trump to Join In
Cities like Miami Beach, San Antonio, San Diego, Los Angeles, and New York may well be on the front lines of U.S. climate action, now that their federal government is about to be taken over by a band of climate deniers and fossil fuel enthusiasts.
Cities Can Prepare for Population Growth While Addressing Climate Change, Ottawa Councillor Says
Rapid urbanization, combined with the need to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to the impacts of climate change, will be two of the most serious challenges facing cities over the next two decades, Ottawa City Councillor Tobi Nussbaum argues in a Huffington Post article to mark the end of the United Nations Habitat conference in Quito Ecuador.
Tech Giants, Cities, and Some Utilities Line Up Behind Clean Power Plan
U.S. tech giants, municipal governments, and some utilities are all filing legal briefs in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan as the D.C. Court of Appeals prepares to hear arguments on the rule, a centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s response to climate change.
Cities could take a UK-size bite out of global emissions—in five years
A group of 40 global megacities that includes Mumbai, Mexico, New York and Lagos, released research at the Paris climate summit showing that city-level actions could reduce global greenhouse emissions by the equivalent of zeroing-out all of the United Kingdom’s CO2 releases within five years.
Time for More Canadian Cities to Think Big on Climate
To boost their influence and advance meaningful climate change solutions, more of Canada’s cities will have to start thinking big, The Energy Mix curator Mitchell Beer argued in a guest post for GreenPAC earlier this month.
Low-Carbon Cities Could Save $16.6 Trillion by 2050
Low-carbon actions by cities could generate US$16.6 trillion in savings through 2050 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.7 gigatonnes per year by 2030, according to a working paper released last week by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
20 Cities and Regions Tackle 5% of Global Emissions
Twenty of the world’s largest cities and regions representing 5% of global carbon emissions have banded together for greenhouse gas reductions of up to 90% by 2050 and 100% by 2060, the Compact of States and Regions announced last week.
Megacities on the Rise, Face Challenges with Resource Use
Cities with populations above 10 million people face unique challenges with resource use, according to a paper last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the number of megacities is likely to grow from 27 today to 37 in 2020.
Climate-Smart Policies Create Jobs, Economic Development
A new World Bank report looks at climate-smart policies in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, the United States, and the European Union that created jobs and economic development while cutting emissions. The policies fell in three areas: clean transportation, energy efficiency in industry, and energy efficiency in buildings. “At the World Bank Group, we believe it’s possible to reduce emissions and deliver jobs and economic opportunity, while also cutting health care and energy costs,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. “With careful design, the same development projects that improve communities, save lives, and increase GDP can also fight climate change,” […]
15-Minute City Groundswell Shows Desire for ‘Greener, Safer, Kinder Spaces’
From Portland to Melbourne to Paris, city planners are dreaming of—and, in some cases, creating—the “15-minute city.” But while many are rejoicing in the potential for greener, safer, kinder spaces, others warn that such visions are blind to equity issues—especially if affordable housing is lacking.
Climate-Focused Green Banks Could Spur Sustainable Cities, Just Recovery
In an effort to help cities balance climate action with pandemic recovery, C40 Cities has released a guide to establishing local green banks as an equitable, resilient, and sustainable path to achieving both goals.
UBC Climate Hub: Finding Hope, Joy, and Community in the Climate Movement
You don’t have to look far to find dispiriting news about climate change these days, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by anxiety and grief. So how can we continue educating ourselves and taking action on climate when the planet’s outlook often looks so bleak? According to some inspiring young climate leaders, one answer is community.
Vertical-Axis Wind Design Could Replace Diesel on Island Grids, Offer Quieter Turbine for Cities
A designer in South Korea has come up with a prototype for a new, 12-storey vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT) that could be located in urban areas and deliver up to four times as much power as a standard, ground-mounted wind machine.
Savings from Retrofits, Rooftop Solar Help Boost Teacher Pay at Arkansas School
If every public school in the United States went 100% solar, the resulting emissions reductions would be equal to shuttering 18 coal-fired power plants. And, as one Arkansas school district recently proved, the money saved on energy costs could translate into higher pay for teachers.
Citizens Decry Incomplete Assessment of Quebec’s Saguenay LNG Project
Environmental groups and concerned citizens are decrying the province of Quebec’s refusal to look beyond site-specific concerns in its analysis of a proposed C$9-billion natural gas liquefaction terminal on the Saguenay River.
U.S. Can’t Decarbonize Transport without Driving Less, New Analysis Warns
Transportation programs that emphasize electric vehicle use without also limiting the distances people have to drive won’t be enough to achieve rapid decarbonization, Transportation for America and Smart Growth America warn in a report issued earlier this month.
Failing to Embrace Green Recovery Will Drive ‘Catastrophic’ Climate Change, C40 Cities Warns Governments
The world’s governments can cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by 2030, create 50 million “good, sustainable jobs” by 2025, prevent 270,000 premature deaths in the next 10 years, and save US$1.4 billion in health costs by embracing a green and just recovery, the C40 Cities COVID-19 Recovery Task Force concludes in an analysis released Wednesday.
German-Designed ‘Bicycle Streets’ Flip the Car-Bike Power Dynamic
Originating in Germany and currently being tested in the Netherlands, the concept of a “bicycle street”—where cars defer to bikes, rather than the other (and expected) way around—is garnering interest in North America.
Enbridge Withdraws Controversial Bid for Hamilton-Area Gas Pipeline
Environmental campaigners are taking some of the credit after Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. announced it was withdrawing its application for a controversial, 10-kilometre gas pipeline through rural Hamilton.
Op-ed: Alberta’s Managed Coal Power Plummet a Climate ‘Success Story’
Alberta’s turn away from coal has been a “climate action success story” thanks to key policies—many unpopular—set by former premier Rachel Notley, according to a recent essay written by two Alberta economists.
Prioritize Degrowth over Electrification to Meet Paris Targets, Study Urges
A mass shift toward electric transport is not enough to bring global transportation emissions in line with the targets in the 2015 Paris Agreement, according to a new study that calls for aggressive “degrowth”— encompassing radical mobility shifts—to keep warming below 2°C.
Sacramento Utility Moves to Measure Energy Efficiency by Avoided Carbon Emissions
The publicly-owned utility in the California capital of Sacramento is shifting the focus of its energy efficiency programs by adopting a metric that emphasizes the carbon dioxide emissions the programs avoid, rather than the electricity consumption they eliminate.
The mayors of a dozen major world cities, including Berlin, Milan, and Vancouver, have pledged to divest from fossil fuels—a move that sends a shot across the bow of those still working to inhibit efforts to “build back better.”
Energy Retrofits, Green Grids, ZEVs Lead Recommendations from Resilient Recovery Task Force
A $27-billion energy retrofit program, stepped-up investment in green electricity, and building an “industrial ecosystem” for zero-emission vehicles are lead elements of a five-year, $55.4-billion green investment program released Wednesday by the 15-member Task Force for a Resilient Recovery.
In an Australian first, Sydney-based public utility AGL is launching a “Netflix for EVs”: a rather pricey subscription service, paid weekly, that offers customers access to a serviced and insured electric car, along with the home charging system they need to keep it powered.
Barry: U.S. Must Choose ‘Dignified Life’, Regenerative Economy for Citizens in Sacrifice Zones
Millions of Americans live in so-called “sacrifice zones,” where racism and rapacious economic imperatives are robbing entire communities of the fundamentals for a healthy and dignified life. That has activists calling for the creation of a regenerative economy in which communities have a direct say in the policies and decisions that affect their world.
The Battle Plan: Key Lessons from the Second World War for the Climate Mobilization (Part 1)
This is the first of two excerpts from Seth Klein’s A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, published in early September and available here. The book includes Klein’s “battle plan”, a set of key lessons for the climate mobilization from the Second World War.
Urban Green Spaces Tied to Higher IQs, Reduced Childhood Aggression
Access to urban spaces that are rich in plant life can boost the IQs of children, both rich and poor, while lowering the incidence of aggression, poor attention, and other behavioural issues, says a first-of-its-kind study out of Belgium.
Plug-In Hybrids Miss Their Carbon Targets as Owners Fail to Charge Batteries
A new study in the journal Environmental Research Letters gets at the strange and vexing question of why some car owners in the United States go to the trouble of buying plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), then rarely if ever plug them in.
Use Community Power, Grassroot Investment to Fuel Green Recovery, Energy Co-ops Urge
A group of seven renewable energy co-ops from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia is calling on the federal government to emphasize community power procurement, deep energy retrofits, and smart grid development in economic stimulus responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Bike Route Barrier Design Repurposes Scrapped Tires
A Milwaukee design team has produced an award-winning bike lane barrier made from discarded car tires. Reproducible at scale and easy to build with a few tools, the WeCLAIM barrier promises to repurpose a share of the 300 million car tires that are scrapped each year in the United States alone.
Child Health Gains Emerge as ‘Side Benefit’ from Northeastern U.S. Climate Program
Fifteen years after the launch of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a climate initiative in 10 northeastern U.S. states, researchers have discovered some critical side benefits to reducing CO2 emissions: fewer preterm births, healthier babies, fewer cases of asthma, and possibly fewer cases of autism.
Austria, Paris, and Tokyo Studies Find No Link Between Transit, COVID-19 Clusters
Several new studies from around the world have found no link between public transit and infection clusters of COVID-19. That means using transit is likely not a high-risk activity for transmission—thanks to social distancing protocols, masked riders, rigorous cleaning, and excellent ventilation systems.
B.C. Regulations to Push EVs to 30% of New Cars by 2030, 100% by 2040
Two years after announcing its zero-emission vehicle program, British Columbia has released the year-by-year regulatory targets that will help manufacturers and retailers make the shift to all-electric new car sales by 2040.
Transit in a Pandemic: Now Is the Time to Undo Neglect, Systemic Racism
As pandemic-weary Americans flee mass transit in droves and commuter-driven emissions begin to spike back up, a Black transit policy expert is urging city leaders to recognize the critical role that public transit plays in creating a world where Black lives do matter.
Details Scarce as Canada Pledges to Triple Annual Energy Efficiency Improvements
The federal government is promising to triple the pace of Canada’s energy efficiency improvements to 3% per year, and the country’s energy efficiency advocacy network, Efficiency Canada, is out with a three-point plan to get started down that path.
Famed ‘Doughnut’ Economics Framework Gets Adaptation for Cities
A new methodological guide adapts the celebrated Doughnut Economics framework for living within planetary boundaries to the urban level by answering one passionate, optimistic question: “How can our city be a home to thriving people, in a thriving place, while respecting the well-being of all people, and the health of the whole planet?”
Smart City Technologies Support Post-COVID Push for Energy Efficiency, Emission Reductions
Smart city technologies are poised to increase energy efficiency and encourage sustainable living in municipalities focused on building back better after the COVID-19 pandemic and curbing their greenhouse gas emissions, Oilprice.com reports.
Group Proposes Cargo Bikes, 21 Kilometres of New Cycling Paths, for Toronto’s Finch West Area
A non-profit in Toronto is pushing for a 21-kilometre network of off-street cycling paths between the Jane-Finch area and Rexdale, to relieve volume on Finch West’s crowded bus lines and make cargo bikes a realistic option for nearby businesses.
TTC Hangs On for Financial Relief from Ottawa’s Emergency Funding Package
The long-suffering Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is hoping to emerge as a major beneficiary of the C$19-billion emergency relief package for provinces and municipalities unveiled last week by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Working from Home, E-Commerce Produce Permanent 10% Drop in U.S. Traffic Volumes
Changes in work and shopping habits brought on by the coronavirus pandemic will produce a permanent 10% drop in traffic volumes in the United States, reducing vehicle miles travelled (VMT) by 270 billion miles per year and taking 14 million cars off the road, consultants at KPMG International reported this week.
Mayors Urge Recovery Based on Green Jobs, ‘15-Minute’ Cities
Green job creation, support for essential workers, investment in green industries, and funding for building retrofits, transit, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and “resilient public services” are cornerstones of a green and just recovery program released Wednesday by C40 Cities.
Downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland Goes Car-Free for COVID-19
Pandemic-weary residents and business owners in St. John’s, Newfoundland are getting used to a newly-refashioned pedestrian-only downtown, and many of them hoping the changes will be permanent, though accessibility advocates warn the current street closure plan is unfriendly to people with mobility issues.
Climate Resilience Efforts Must Include Local Needs, Local Wisdom, WRI Says
Less than 10% of international climate funding is currently earmarked for local efforts to build resilience. This dynamic needs to change, says the World Resources Institute, and the power of context-specific action, local leadership, and embedded knowledge can make it happen.
Ontario’s Talk of Housing Near Transit a ‘Trojan Horse’ for Rolling Back Environmental Protection
Recent announcements on transit-oriented development, affordable housing, air conditioning in long-term care homes, and even education policy are shaping up as a screen for the Ontario government’s latest attempt to scale back environmental protections and clear the way for unrestrained, decidedly unsustainable development, critics say.
Edmonton Airport Announces Plans for 120-MW Solar Farm
The Edmonton International Airport is close to signing a deal with Germany-based Alpin Sun to create a showcase renewable energy project that will see a canola field west of its runways transformed into the world’s biggest airport-based solar farm.
Ontario Plans New Housing Along Toronto-Area Transit Lines
The Ontario government is introducing legislation to support transit-oriented development, with plans to build thousands of new homes—including affordable housing—on top of or adjacent to a dozen new stations along the Greater Toronto Area’s new Ontario Line, the Scarborough subway, and the proposed Eglinton West LRT and Yonge North subway extensions.
SolarAid Raises $300,000 for Remote Clinics in Malawi and Zambia
London, UK-based international charity SolarAid has raised more than US$300,000 to supply thousands of free solar-powered devices to medical professionals fighting the coronavirus pandemic at health clinics and isolation centres in rural Malawi and Zambia.
B.C. Coastal First Nations Begin Shift from Diesel to Local Hydro
Two of the 11 off-grid and largely diesel-dependent First Nations communities along the British Columbia coast are investing C$25 million in hydro power in an effort to reduce their dependence on a fuel that is both expensive and an environmental hazard.
Declaration for Resilience Urges ‘New Normal’ for Canadian Cities
Canada’s urban planning experts, along with leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, have signed on to the 2020 Declaration for Resilience in Canadian Cities, urging policy-makers at all levels to create a “new normal” that makes affordability, sustainability, climate-friendliness, and equity the four cornerstones of any pandemic recovery plans.
Shift to Electric Buses Emerges as ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity’ for Canada
With more than 425,000 electric buses on the roads world-wide, four Canadian manufacturers with customers across the continent, and transit agencies in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Laval adding the vehicles to their fleets, there’s still time for the country to hop onboard a growing international trend, Clean Energy Canada concludes in a report issued this week.
Transit Agencies, Advocates Sort Out Safety in the Age of COVID
Despite serious concerns that fears of coronavirus infection will drive commuters out of mass transit vehicles and into their cars, there’s an emerging body of knowledge on how cities can deliver a safe commute—and evidence that some communities are keeping their transit systems free of COVID clusters.
Post-Pandemic Land Use Changes Could Cut Emissions in Urban Centres
Canadian urban planners are urging cities to implement land use changes in their post-pandemic recovery plans, arguing that bringing work and shopping closer to home can revitalize local economies while reducing emissions-heavy commutes.
Minneapolis Climate Plan Fails to Serve Black, Low-Income Neighbourhoods
What was greeted seven years ago as a groundbreaking local climate action plan in Minneapolis is now being flagged as a source of racial division in the city where the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white police officer, sparked massive protests and renewed attention to police brutality across the United States.
Student Organizers Push Salt Lake City School Board to 100% Clean Energy by 2040
The district school board in Salt Lake City will shift to 100% clean electricity by 2030 and drop all fossil fuels for heating and transportation by 2040, after a campaign led by students from the community’s three major high schools.
Venice Glimpses a Different Life as Port Cities Mark World Oceans Day [Global Virtual Rally Today]
As Venice slowly emerges from lockdown—and braces for the return of millions of tourists—locals are daring to imagine another future for their beloved City of Water, after seeing a glimpse of what life could be like without colossal cruise ships and inflated rents.
The roiling traumas of racial injustice, coronavirus, and climate change are a “veritable witch’s brew of community risk,” according to a panel of five environmental justice leaders recently brought together by Grist. The antidote? To make sure that “normal” is never the same again.
Electrifying GTHA Cars, Trucks, and Buses Would Prevent 731 Premature Deaths, Cut 8 Mt of Emissions Per Year
A shift to electric cars, SUVs, trucks, and buses would prevent 731 premature deaths per year in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and reduce the region’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by eight million tonnes, bringing Ontario half-way to meeting its 2030 carbon target, according to a modelling study released this week by Environmental Defence Canada and the Ontario Public Health Association.
Four-Day Work Week Could Boost Post-Pandemic Economy
Canadian workplace health experts are urging policy-makers to consider a condensed work week to reduce stress, increase productivity, and boost a post-coronavirus economy. A three-day weekend could also be a boon to the pandemic-ravaged tourism sector, which lost 50% of its work force this past spring.
Toronto Transit Faces 50% Service Cut Without Federal, Provincial Funding [Urgent Sign-On]
Public transit advocates have launched an emergency appeal for federal funding for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), after Mayor John Tory announced the system faces a 50% service cut without federal and provincial support.
It’s 2030. Here’s How Calgary Transformed Itself into a Cleantech Capital.
The city at the heart of the Alberta oilpatch can transform itself into a cleantech capital by the end of this decade if it makes the right decisions and brings together the needed investment now, Calgary-based environmental lawyer Jeremy Barretto argues in an opinion piece for CBC.
New York Mega-Utility Triples Energy Efficiency Budget to $1.5 Billion
New York state mega-utility Consolidated Edison is tripling its budget for energy efficiency to US$1.5 billion through 2025, in an aggressive program expansion that will include incentives for customers to install ground- and air-source heat pumps to reduce their dependence on natural gas.
Global Cycling Revolution Finding Deep Roots in Toronto
With bike shops reporting thriving sales across Canada and around the world, cycling advocates are pushing hard to ensure that post-pandemic cities include more cycling infrastructure—an evolution that has a lot of public support, even in traditionally car-smitten suburbs.
Major Cities Urge Green, Resilient Recovery with ‘No Return to Business as Usual’
There’s no going back to “business as usual” after the COVID-19 pandemic when that previous path had the world on track for at least 3.0°C average global warming, the mayors of more than three dozen major cities declared in a statement of principles released earlier this month.
E-Bikes Sales Spike as Commuters Prep for Return to Work
Lighter and faster than ever, e-bikes are in high demand as lockdown regulations ease and commuters begin to return to work. Add in ever-increasing urban density, and producers are forecasting a bright future for e-bikes as an alternative to a second family car.
Edmonton Lays Plans to Reboot, Diversify Local Economy
A new agency unanimously approved by city council in Edmonton, Alberta will oversee the creation of a post–COVID-19 economy—equipped with a C$11-million budget and an advisory table that adds foreign investment, trade, and tourism interests to the usual oil and gas voices.
Researchers Cite Urban Density as Solution, Not Cause in Pandemic Spread
It is not density, but instead an inhumane and unhealthy infrastructure rooted in a long history of pervasive inequality and bigotry, that is fuelling the COVID-19 pandemic in the world’s cities, according to several environmental health experts who are urging city planners not to waste a critical insight laid bare by the current health crisis.
WRI ‘Build Back Better’ Webinar Addresses COVID-19 Recovery and Public Transport
As the COVID-19 pandemic makes its relentless sweep across the world’s cities, it is revealing the vital importance of urban public transport systems in delivering essential workers to hospitals, grocery stores, and other critical services the entire community relies on. At WRI’s most recent webinar on how to build back better after the pandemic, panelists pointed to this moment as an opportunity to invest deeper in public transit—not just as an essential system, but as a path to economic recovery.
High School Transit Training Offers Independence, Confidence to Young Riders
Youth, schools, and communities all stand to gain from a public transit initiative in Kingston, Ontario that is empowering young riders, making (pre-COVID) field trips less costly and more climate-friendly, and encouraging life-long transit ridership.
In Conversation: Post-COVID Recovery Becomes Added Lens for Climate, Energy Efficiency Programs, Dunsky Says
Philippe Dunsky is President of Dunsky Energy Consulting, a 35-person Canadian firm specialized in accelerating the clean energy transition. In early April, he circulated a sampling of the energy efficiency, clean energy, electric mobility, and climate action plans his firm is continuing to support through the pandemic, with members of his Montreal-based team conducting their work from home. He talked to The Mix about what a future of rapid decarbonization could look like post-coronavirus.
Canadian-Designed Sensors Helping to Build ‘Smart’ Cities
Once used solely to light commuters’ paths after dark, streetlights can now serve as “technology pillars” for smart city development and maintenance around the world, thanks to a Halifax-based roadway lighting company.
Post-Pandemic ‘Metro Makeovers’ Could Bring Better Pedestrian, Bike Access
Dense cities across Europe are making bike lanes and pedestrian thoroughfares the linchpins in their plans to slowly return citizens to some semblance of normal life—partly in anticipation of a transit-wary public, and partly to double down on a pre-pandemic trend of banning cars from city cores.
Saskatchewan Analysts See Energy Retrofits, Renewables as ‘Very Practical’ Path to Economic Recovery
As oil prices plummet and coronavirus-hit economies reel, analysts and experts are urging aggressive investment in labour-intensive renewable energy projects and efficiency retrofits as a responsible, cost-efficient, and “very practical” path through—and beyond—the pandemic.
Webinar: New York State Looks to Energy Efficiency for Post-COVID Job Creation
With the COVID crisis shutting down the economy in one of the hardest-hit parts of the United States, New York state is in an all-out push to sustain its energy efficiency industry and the 120,000 jobs it creates, Janet Joseph, senior vice president with the state’s Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), told a webinar yesterday.
In Conversation: Community Values Must Inform Post-COVID Rebuilding, Yano Says
Sherry Yano is Manager of Community Renewable Energy at the David Suzuki Foundation. She talks about the fault lines in society revealed by the COVID crisis and the values that lead to action on environment and social justice.
‘Gobsmacking’ UK Announcement Says Green Transport Must Become Citizens’ First Choice
The UK government recently declared that meeting the nation’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 will require that public transit, cycling, and other forms of active transport become “the natural first choice” for citizens—a statement that transport policy experts and active travel campaigners found happily “gobsmacking,” reports BBC News.
WRI Webinar: Nations, Cities Can ‘Build Back Better’ after Pandemic
As governments attempt to steer their economies through the mounting economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, stimulus packages should focus on fostering new models of sustainable and inclusive economic growth, according to panelists at a webinar hosted earlier this month by the World Resources Institute (WRI).
‘Imagine Facing COVID in the Dark’: SolarAid Raises Rural Electrification Funds for Zambia [Donor Appeal]
As the COVID-19 pandemic begins spreading across the African continent, with Malawi and Zambia each recently recording their first death, UK-based SolarAid has set out to raise £162,000 to support fast dissemination of local health advice, light and basic power for rural clinics, and other measures to adapt and respond to immediate needs in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.
In Conversation: Pandemic Experience Puts Spotlight on Local Resilience, Self-Sufficiency, Logtenberg Says
Rik Logtenberg is a city councillor in Nelson, British Columbia, founder of Climate Caucus, a national network of mayors and councillors, and the developer of Nudj, a software platform for mobilizing change.
Amsterdam Turns to ‘Doughnut Economics’ for Equitable Post-Pandemic Recovery
Determined to eschew the dogma of growth at all costs and the reflexive dictates of supply and demand, the city of Amsterdam is vowing to embrace the “doughnut model” of social and planetary boundaries as it plans its economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Pandemic-Mandated Car-Free Streets Are an ‘Epiphany Moment’
Chicago city planners looking to help their citizens keep fit during the pandemic—mentally as well as physically—are being encouraged to close streets to cars and open them up to cyclists and pedestrians, thereby taking a step forward to a climate-friendly world more favourable to transit, bike lanes, and walking.
‘Now Is the Time’ for Food Security Planning, Dauncey Urges
With the pandemic posing an increasing threat to food security, policy-makers need to be thinking hard, and quickly, about how to protect the supply chain—from farm to store to table—with timely attention to building greater long-term resilience into the systems that sustain our food supply, Canadian author and climate hawk Guy Dauncey writes in a recent post.
Community Gardeners Object After Ontario Deems Food Production ‘Recreation’ During Pandemic [Sign-On]
With tens of thousands across the province relying on community gardens for affordable, local food, the Ontario government made a big mistake when it included them in its list of recreational activities to be shut down in the effort to #FlattenTheCurve on the coronavirus pandemic, a non-profit food security group warns in a release this week.
Canadian Cities Stepping up with Sustainable Land Use
Affordability, equity, quality of life, and climate resilience are emerging as key objectives in sustainable land use practices being developed by municipalities across Canada—and those objectives are actually being achieved thanks to a strong evidence base, robust community engagement, and close working relationships within and between public and private sector partners.
Electricity, Clean Water Hold Keys to Human and Climate Health
While the world’s most industrialized countries grapples with health care systems that are strained and fraying in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, large parts of the developing world still lack two simple resources that are the foundations for any kind of health system at all: electricity and clean water.
U.S. Poll Shows Bipartisan Support for Transit Funding, Fills Gap in Green New Deal
Americans of all political stripes are increasingly supportive of expanded public transit, and there is a growing conviction that there should be more restrictions on new road creation, according to a recent poll on behalf of Transportation for America (T4America).
NYC Billy ‘Idle’ Campaign Dodges Root Causes of Air Pollution
New York City’s recent announcement of a US$1-million anti-idling campaign featuring British glam rocker Billy Idol may be witty, but what the community really needs is the political will to take more cars off city streets—an unlikely prospect, given Mayor Bill de Blasio’s penchant for governing “from a windshield perspective,” writes Grist.
Benefits of Telecommuting May Outlast Virus Outbreak
Work-from-home policies being implemented around the world in an urgent effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 could create a significant long-term boost to climate action plans, both by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building future resilience.
Torrie: Mass, Deep Energy Retrofits Put Net-Zero Emissions Within Reach
A program of mass, deep energy retrofits to dramatically increase the efficiency of Ottawa’s existing building stock must be at the centre of the city’s plan to hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, veteran energy modeller Ralph Torrie told a packed house at Ottawa’s Impact Hub late last month.
CCPA: B.C. Must Plan for Managed Decline Before International Fossil Markets Scale Back
British Columbia may be running out of time to plan for a managed decline of its fossil fuel industry, given the prospect that the Asian governments the province is counting on to buy its products may soon be making their own transition to a green economy, warns a new report issued this week by the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
Uber, Lyft Emerge as Massive Emitters, But Policy Changes Could Help
Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft emit almost 70% more carbon dioxide than the forms of transport they displace, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. But a few policy shifts could revive the promise these services once held for promoting carpooling and lower vehicle use.
Drawdown’s Latest ‘Tools of Possibility’ Show Path to 1.5°C, with 1,570 Billion Tons of Emission Cuts by 2050
Humanity can prevent or draw down 1,570 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions between 2020 and 2050 to approach a 1.5°C threshold for average global warming, or 992.77 billion tons to settle around 2.0°C, by adopting a menu of 82 practical solutions ranging from onshore wind to utility-scale solar, from reduced food waste and plant-rich diets to tropical forest restoration and clean cookstoves, according to the 2020 update of the popular Drawdown list.
Refurbishing, Not Razing Old UK Homes Could Save 40 Million Tonnes of GHGs by 2050
Refurbishing just half of the UK’s pre-19th century residential buildings—rather than demolishing them to make way for new builds—would reduce national emissions by almost 40 million tonnes by 2050, says a new report by Historic England.
Windsor Aims for Deep Energy Retrofits in 80% of Homes by 2041
The City of Windsor is closer to adopting a deep retrofit program to slash energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in 80% of its housing stock by 2041, following a unanimous standing committee vote last week.
Federal Budget Must Scale Up Energy Efficiency, Signal Long-Term Commitment, Analysts Urge
After Canadians voted for strong climate action in last fall’s federal election, and all the political parties represented in Parliament included energy efficiency in their platforms, the upcoming federal budget is an essential opportunity to slash pollution, create jobs, and make everyone’s lives more comfortable, Efficiency Canada argues in a recent opinion piece.
Hold the Line on Urban Sprawl, Local Campaigners Urge Ottawa City Council
Holding the line on the City of Ottawa’s urban boundary is an essential first step if the community hopes to do its part to get the climate crisis under control, local green space advocate Daniel Buckles wrote in a recent Ottawa Citizen op ed.
Freeland Holds ‘Bridge-Building’ Session with Western Municipalities
A new group of municipal leaders from western Canada held meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly earlier this week, during a day-long task force gathering in Leduc, Alberta organized by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Big-City Mayors Call for Predictable, Long-Term Transit Funding
Canada’s big-city mayors are pushing for predictable, long-term mass transit funding and immediate dollars for climate change programming when Finance Minister Bill Morneau issues his climate-focused budget next month.
San Francisco Declares Market Street a Car-Free Zone
San Francisco has gone through with a plan to ban cars along Market Street, one of the busiest and most hazardous thoroughfares in the city’s bustling downtown—and has earned what a leading urban affairs newsletter calls a “remarkable level of local support” for doing so.
Green Roofs Would Save 770 Megatons of Carbon by 2050
Green roofs rank #73 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. By the year 2050, an increase in green and cool roofs could save 0.77 gigatons of carbon at a net cost of US$1.39 trillion, while producing $988.5 billion in savings.
Free Transit Fights Inequality, But May Not Cut Emissions
Experiments with free public transit in cities across the U.S. are returning a mix of responses, including support from riders, cost concerns from managers, and questions about whether they actually result in fewer cars on the road.
Conservative U.S. States Take Tentative Steps, But Won’t Call it Climate Action
Across major swaths of the United States, legislators in some of the country’s most conservative enclaves are making tentative moves to take action on the climate crisis—though many of them are still unwilling to call that crisis by its proper name.
‘Words Make Worlds’: Holthaus Issues Call to Imagine, Create a Radically Positive Future
As the climate crisis deepens, we must be “radically imaginative,” telling ourselves and each other stories of fiercely visionary, loving, and productive collective actions that will help end the climate emergency, veteran meteorologist and climate hawk Eric Holthaus writes in The Correspondent.
Nottingham Delivers Home Comfort, Rooftop Solar in Drive to Be UK’s First Carbon-Neutral City
Nottingham, England is setting out to transform housing, transportation, energy use, and waste management in a bid to become the country’s first carbon-neutral city by 2028, a full 22 years before the UK hopes to hit the same target.
High-Fives in PEI After Officials Announce $68-Million Solar+Storage Project
Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna and Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey shared a “small victorious high-five” in Summerside, PEI last week after announcing construction of a C$68-million, 21-megawatt solar farm with 10 MW of battery storage.
LED Retrofit Cuts Lighting Costs 94%, Points to Fast ROI for Commercial Buildings
An LED lighting replacement project at a manufacturing plant in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata cut lighting costs 94% while providing better illumination, delivering the equivalent of a one-day return on investment after factoring in federal and provincial incentives.
London, New York Mayors Urge Major Cities to Dump Fossil Investments
London, UK Mayor Sadiq Kahn and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are urging every major municipality in the world to dump their fossil fuel investments, after C40 Cities released a toolkit to help them do just that.
Threatened with implacably rising tides and temperatures, even as they face massive influxes of people seeking refuge from a hostile hinterland, the architects of coastal cities in a climate-changed world might want to give biomimicry a try, giving specific consideration to shallow-water biochemical structures called stromatolites.
U.S. Community Solar Comes of Age, Becomes ‘Something I’d Sign My Mom Up For’
With a proven product, a more flexible approach to contracts, and a different notion of customer service and communications, community solar in the United States is getting closer to offering a broadly accessible, scaled-up product for the 50 to 75% of households that don’t have the option of installing their own rooftop systems.
District Heating Would Save 9.38 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
District heating ranks #27 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. By 2050, the technique could eliminate 9.38 gigatons of carbon dioxide at a net cost of US$457.1 billion, and produce $3.54 trillion in savings.
Ontario Town Counts on Transit, Urban Design to Protect Rural Flavour, Prevent Sprawl
Drawing inspiration from sources as diverse as the garden city movement of the early 20th century, Israel’s cooperative moshavs, and the annual Burning Man event, the town council of Innisfil, Ontario has developed a new model of suburban intensification built around nature, two wheels, and walking, in a bid to protect the good things about rural life.
Post-Cold War Necessity Makes Cuba a Model for Scaled-Up Urban Farming
Cuba is emerging as a model for countries intent on feeding dense urban populations in a warming world, after the geopolitics of the Cold War ended with the island nation’s remarkable success with urban farming.
Mental Health Expertise Meets Sandbags in Helping Communities Build Climate Resilience
It was judicious use of mental health expertise, along with many, many sandbags, that enabled Fargo, North Dakota to weather the challenges of the epic 2009 Red River flood. That was one of the experiences that pointed to a basic precondition for building communities’ ability to face the climate emergency: Recognizing climate change as a profound threat to mental health, responding with messages of “hopeful realism” and ongoing compassion, particularly for older adults and children, and helping communities acquire the psychological and social resilience to cope.
Cut Carbon by Giving Citizens More Transportation Choices, Veteran City Planner Urges
A key step in getting Canadian urbanites out of high-emitting cars is to shed the notion that roads are natural habitat for cars alone and redesign city streets to give citizens more transportation choices, former Toronto chief planner and mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat argues in a Globe and Mail op ed.
Online Tool Connects Energy Poverty to Climate, Housing Crises
A group of sustainability specialists is out with a new online mapping tool to help policy-makers navigate the challenging nexus between the climate crisis, the housing crisis, and poverty, to ensure that no one is left behind in the transition out of a fossil economy.
Energy Efficiency Scorecard Shows B.C. Leading, But All Provinces with Room to Improve
British Columbia leads, Saskatchewan along with Newfoundland and Labrador lag, and no province receives a score above 58 points on a 100-point scale in the first annual provincial energy efficiency scorecard released yesterday by Efficiency Canada.
Zero-Emission Vehicles Hit 10% of New Car Sales in British Columbia
British Columbia has surged into a Canada-wide lead in its buying habits for zero-emission vehicles, with electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell cars accounting for 10% of all new purchases, far ahead of a national average of 3.5%.
A 2030 Vision: Here’s What Life is Like if We Win on Climate
Far lower CO2 emissions, cleaner air and water, less meat on the dinner table, and less spending on consumer goods are key features of a near future in which humanity brings climate change under control, Danish Member of Parliament Ida Auken writes in a recent post for the World Economic Forum.
Home Storage Delivers Back-Up Power in Vermont Blackout, and EV Batteries Could Do Even Better
When a major rain and wind storm knocked out power supplies for 115,000 Vermont households on Hallowe’en, the 1,100 Green Mountain Power customers participating in a home battery pilot project did just fine.
Beyond EVs, U.S. Communities Need to ‘Drive Less, Right Now’
While progressive U.S. policy-makers increasingly promote electric vehicles as the magic bullet to decarbonize transportation, what Americans really need is encouragement to “drive less, right now” through strategic tweaks to existing infrastructure, more pedestrian- and cycling=friendly roads, and EV car-sharing, says CityLab.
Solar Farm to Deliver Better Electricity Access, Annual Revenue to B.C. First Nation
The six communities of the Tŝilhqot’in Nation in British Columbia are looking ahead to better electricity access and C$175,000 in annual revenue after completing construction of a solar farm west of Williams Lake that is expected to generate 1.5 gigawatt-hours per year for the BC Hydro grid.
Solar+Storage Costs Less than Grid Electricity in Six European Cities
Solar plus storage is already cost-competitive across much of southern and northern Europe, and will hit grid parity across the continent by 2025, according to a new study conducted by a solar photovoltaic researcher with support from industry.
Mayor of Impoverished French Town Combines Green Strategy with Social Supports
Undaunted by 28% unemployment, and the fact that Marie Le Pen’s xenophobic National Rally party continues to appeal to a majority of his constituents, the Green Party mayor of an impoverished coastal town near Calais is determined to prove that strong environmental policy means a better life for working people.
Alberta Efficiency Programs Cut GHGs by 5.7 Megatonnes, Save $692 Million Over Two Years
Energy Efficiency Alberta is earning praise at the national level, even as it faces an uncertain future in its home province, after reporting C$692 million in energy savings, $850 million in economic impact, and 5.7 million tonnes of potential greenhouse gas emission reductions over its first two years of operation.
Global Water Crisis Requires Local Solutions, Not More Megaprojects
Human-scale water conservation methods, both ancient and modern, not big-budget, Delhi-directed megaprojects, will be critical to helping India survive and gain resilience as monsoon rains fail and temperatures rise, says journalist and environmental activist Meera Subramanian.
Britain’s First-Ever Citizens’ Climate Assembly Generates 600 Ideas, Demands Local Government Action
In Britain’s first-ever citizens’ assembly on climate change, participants convened by Camden council in north London came up with rooftop solar, cutting fossil fuels out of local government developments, and 15 other steps their community could take to cut emissions and boost sustainability.
Nearly Two Dozen States Back California Fuel Economy Rule as White House Prepares to Finalize Rollback
Governors from 22 U.S. states plus Puerto Rico, including at least three Republicans, are urging the White House to adopt tougher fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks, contending that consumers, automakers, and the environment will all suffer from Donald Trump’s determined effort to roll those standards back.
With prefabricated housing gradually gaining ground in North America, Canada is beginning to see a small surge in the number of companies producing prefab, high-performance wall panels for passive solar homes.
Alberta Towns, Utility Embrace Solar as ‘the Business of the Future’
Undaunted by a premier avowedly hostile to renewable energy, communities across Alberta are embracing solar electricity as good business, with the small southern town of Raymond determined to be the first in Canada to power itself entirely by the sun.
Ottawa-Area Solar Farm Uses Sheep for Herbicide-Free Weed Control
Two years after a family of Ottawa Valley sheep farmers partnered with French-owned EDF Renewables on a “vegetation abatement” pilot, their herd has grown, they have a significant secondary source of income, and EDF has secured a herbicide-free way to keep over-enthusiastic weeds from overtaking its solar arrays.
Reducing Climate Damage Claims Depends on Flood Zone Mapping, Public Awareness
Mapping flood zones, raising public awareness, and investing heavily in climate mitigation are necessary pre-conditions for making a proposed “high-risk” insurance pool (rather than the public purse) available to homeowners at risk of overland flooding.
Senate Committee Urges Federal Support for Northern Climate Resilience
The climate resilience of Canada’s Northern communities—many of them Indigenous—is an urgent priority that calls for better financial and technical support from the Trudeau government, the Special Senate Committee on the Arctic concludes in a recent report.
‘Data is Power’ as Alaska Tlingit and Haida Draft Climate Adaptation Plan
With no climate plan currently in place in the state of Alaska, and federal efforts focused on the state’s rapidly melting northern regions, the Indigenous peoples of the southeast are forging ahead, determined to acquire more data on climate issues most pertinent to them like the rise of lethal phytoplankton which thrive in warmer coastal waters.
Amsterdam to Cut 10,000 Parking Spaces by 2025, Faces No Serious Pushback
Two months after Amsterdam officials announced plans to cut some 10,000 parking spaces in the city core by 2025, pavements are rapidly blossoming with garden plots, children at play, and citizens delighted to have more space to move and mingle.
Vrooman, Guilbeault Urge ZEV Mandate, Support for Deep Energy Retrofits
A federal zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate and stronger support for deep energy retrofits are the main recommendations of the federal Advisory Council on Climate Action, released during the Clean Energy Ministerial in Vancouver earlier this week.
Energy Revolution Must Give Low-Income Communities Better Access to Affordable Technologies
It isn’t an energy revolution if it doesn’t “provide low-income communities with better access to affordable clean energy technologies”, Yale Environment 360 reports, in a post that points to the nearly one-third of U.S. households that struggle to cover their energy bills.
Green Leasing, PACE Financing Transform 1960s Commercial Building in Cleveland
A non-descript office building in Cleveland is about to complete a big leap in operating efficiency, becoming the community’s first to finance a major energy retrofit through Commercial Property-Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE).
‘Climate Storytellers’ Needed to ‘Galvanize’ Public Support for Action
With entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, and policy-makers working feverishly on the massive changes demanded by the climate crisis, every community needs a storyteller to help “galvanize” the population to support that activity, according to Climate Narrative Project founder Jeff Biggers.
Booming Community Solar Sector Promises Access for Low-Income Households
Determined to make good on the promise of equity contained in the phrase “community solar,” more than a dozen U.S. states and non-profit developers are working hard to ensure that low-income Americans have fair access to the power of the sun.
Bike Infrastructure Would Save 2.31 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Bike infrastructure ranks #59 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. Better and more widespread bike infrastructure would eliminate 2.31 gigatons of carbon dioxide and produce net savings of US$400.5 billion, with further lifetime savings of $2.1 trillion.
Cities Scramble to Keep in Touch as Rockefeller Shutters 100 Resilient Cities Network
The Rockefeller Foundation is shutting down its 100 Resilient Cities network, a major initiative that has helped communities around the world prepare for the impacts of climate change and respond to local challenges as diverse as transportation, poor sanitation, flooding, fire control, and cholera outbreaks.
Commercial Buildings Drive 75% Growth in Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing
American commercial builders and retrofitters determined to deliver a lower-carbon product are signing up in droves for long-term financing using the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) mechanism and hammering home cumulative savings of 6.3 billion kWh, the amount of electricity used annually by around 25,000 commercial office buildings.
Canada Takes Aim at Range Anxiety with Expanded EV Charging Network
Alert to the allure of the long-distance road trip—and corresponding anxieties around electric vehicle range—Canadian governments, utilities, and automakers are working to support potential EV buyers by installing more public fast-charger stations along busy big-city connectors and more lightly-travelled routes in northern Ontario and on the Prairies.
UN Agency Backs Futuristic Floating Cities as Hedge Against Sea Level Rise
A research coalition backed by a United Nations agency will look at the possibility of building floating cities to provide a futuristic form of relief for coastal communities facing rapid sea level rise.
Florida Utility to Replace Two Natural Gas Plants with World’s Biggest Battery
Florida Power & Light has announced plans to build the world’s biggest battery and charge it from an existing solar power plant to replace two of its existing natural gas generating stations, a deal it says will save its ratepayers US$100 million.
EV Adoption Won’t Drive Full Decarbonization Without Better Policies, Consultants Warn
Simply electrifying personal vehicles won’t be enough to complete the transition to livable, low-carbon cities without efforts to help users drive less, walk more, and use parking lots as the “gas stations of the future”, four different consultants argue in posts published over the last three weeks.
Climate Politics Complicate Copenhagen’s Drive for Carbon Neutrality by 2025
Copenhagen is setting out to reach a carbon neutral target by 2025—in a move that will “show what’s possible, and what’s tough, for other urban governments on a warming planet,” the New York Times reports.
Two Alberta Projects Aim for Wider Dialogue on Energy Futures
With the Alberta election campaign taking on the look and feel of a brutally divisive, month-long political brawl, a couple of recent news reports have focused on new strategies seeking common ground on the province’s shift to a post-carbon future.
Federal Budget Creates New Revolving Fund for Municipal Climate Action
The Atmospheric Fund (TAF) and its local partners are taking a victory lap after the federal budget included C$183 million for Low Carbon Cities Canada (LC3), a permanent revolving fund that will support local climate action plans in cities across the country.
A new infusion of C$215 million has pushed Quebec’s cumulative carbon cap-and-trade revenues above the $3 billion mark, at just the moment when Ontario has cancelled its carbon pricing program and Alberta’s Jason Kenney is vowing to do the same if he wins the provincial election later this year.
New U.S. Accelerator Aims for 2.8 GW of City Renewables Purchases by 2021
U.S. cities are setting out to procure an additional 2.8 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2021, as part of a wider, US$70-million initiative by Bloomberg Philanthropies to promote municipal climate action.
Mass Transit Would Save 6.57 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Expanding use of mass transit ranks #37 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions, with the potential to eliminate 6.57 gigatons of carbon dioxide and produce US$2.38 trillion in savings. The cost, according to Drawdown, is too variable to be determined.
Runaway Uptake of Community Solar Has St. Louis Utility Planning Big
A stellar community response to a St. Louis-based utility’s launch of a community solar program has renewable energy advocates in Missouri celebrating and the utility planning to expand its renewable energy.
Smart Policy, No Natural Gas Deliver Green Win for Small New York Town
Marbletown, New York, population 5,500, is poised to achieve 100% low-cost renewable electricity within the year, and has a serious plan to decarbonize the rest of its energy supply, thanks to its newly-minted membership in a community choice aggregation (CCA) program, a fortuitous absence of natural gas resources, advances in heat pump technology, and progressive local policies.
Métis Receive 50% Stake as Alberta Announces Three New Subsidy-Free Solar Farms
Alberta will double its solar capacity and save C$3.9 million per year after commissioning 94 megawatts of new generation under a 20-year contract with Canadian Solar Solutions and Conklin Metis Local 193, which has a 50% equity stake in the project.
California Sets Sights on Up to 100,000 New Net-Zero Homes Per Year
Net-zero buildings that produce as much energy as they consume may be about to hit the mainstream in California, where most new homes and multi-residential structures up to three stories high will be equipped with rooftop solar panels beginning next year.
Los Angeles Shifts Billions of Dollars from Gas Plants to Storage, Efficiency, and Solar
Los Angeles is walking away from a plan to spend billions of dollars rebuilding three natural gas power plants along the coast, in what Mayor Eric Garcetti cast as a boost for the city’s 100% renewable energy goal and its plan to improve air quality in polluted neighbourhoods.
Policy Support Could Make Community Projects the Second-Biggest Source for U.S. Solar Power
Community solar in the United States is seeing such an influx of funding and an uptick in institutional interest that one of its proponents says the right policy support could make it the country’s second-biggest source of solar-electric capacity.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers is trying to sell Canada Post on a plan to connect neighbourhood post offices to a greener, more just future by expanding their services to include community banking and electric vehicle charging stations.
California Could Become a ‘Timely Laboratory’ for Cutting Fossil Fuel Production
California may be setting itself up as a “timely laboratory” to test supply-side reductions in fossil fuel production as a key tool for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, three authors with the Stockholm Environment Institute suggest in a recent paper in the journal Nature Climate Change.
City Housing, Transportation Policies Can Cut Carbon…Without Intending To
Cities across the United States are beginning to adopt housing and transportation policies that also end up reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change—even if carbon reductions are the farthest thing from their decision-makers’ minds.
Municipal Opposition, Earthquake Restrictions Could Put an End to UK Fracking
A wave of municipal opposition, on the heels of falling natural gas prices, is raising serious questions about the future of hydraulic fracturing in the United Kingdom, just days after the company with the most extensive exploration rights in the country warned that it won’t proceed unless regulations to protect communities from fracking-related earthquakes are eased.
Minnesota Non-Profit Brings Community Solar to Low-Income Households in Vermont
A successful community solar garden partnership launched by a team of volunteers out of a garage in rural Minnesota is pushing its boundaries to Vermont, after concluding that a development model first introduced in 2017 can be extended across the United States.
Alberta Procures 760 MW of Wind in Five New Projects, Three with First Nations
Alberta is procuring 760 megawatts of wind-generated electricity, enough to power 300,000 homes, and creating an estimated 1,000 jobs by investing C$1.2 billion in five new green energy partnerships, three of them involving First Nations.
Alberta Fossils Boycott Whistler Conference After City Flags Climate Costs of Fossil Extraction
Several Alberta fossils are boycotting a CIBC investor conference in Whistler, British Columbia, and the bank is considering moving its annual event elsewhere, after Mayor Jack Crompton asked Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. to commit to pay for its “fair share of the costs of climate change being experienced” by the weather-dependent ski resort town.
Ford ‘Silences Accountability’ by Cutting Provincial Environmental Commissioner
The Doug Ford government tabled legislation yesterday to eliminate the Office of the Environmental Commissioner (OEC), an independent watchdog accountable to the provincial legislature, as part of a fall fiscal update ironically titled “A Plan for the People”.
50,000 March in Montreal to Demand Provincial Action on Climate
An estimated 50,000 people braved cold weather in Montreal Saturday to demand climate action by the new Quebec government of Premier François Legault, in what CBC describes as “part of a wider campaign with sister marches happening in cities throughout Quebec.”
Walkable Cities Would Save 2.92 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Walkable Cities place #54 on the Drawdown list of climate solutions. The strategy could cut atmospheric carbon dioxide by 2.92 gigatons by 2050 and produce an astounding US$3.28 trillion in net operational savings, though the corresponding costs are too variable to measure.
Ottawa Co-op Revives Two Community Solar Projects After Ontario Cancels Contracts
The Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op has managed to revive two out of four community solar projects that were cancelled when the Ford government in Ontario summarily trashed hundreds of project agreements with renewable energy producers across the province.
64 Ballot Initiatives in 24 U.S. States Show Citizens Seizing the Energy Agenda
With United States mid-term elections just 33 days (and 14 hours, 55 minutes) away, citizens across 24 mostly western states have launched 64 separate ballot initiatives to push back on the Trump administration’s determination to gut greenhouse gas regulations and prop up the country’s fossil fuel industries.
Community Network in Catalonia Pushes for ‘Regional Energy Sovereignty’
A regional energy sovereignty network has taken hold in the Catalonia region in northeastern Spain, where Xarxa per la sobirania energètica (Xse) is helping to drive a “resistance to Spain’s dominant energy model” that has been building for years.
Massive Job Counts Show Renewables, Efficiency Taking Hold in ‘Every U.S. Zip Code’
The Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and Boston regions lead the list of metropolitan areas that emerge as “America’s top 50 clean energy job engines,” producing 1.8 million jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy—more than half of the country’s 3,176,8329 clean energy employment, Environmental Entrepreneurs reports in a survey released this week.
OREC: Ottawa Tornadoes Spotlight the Need for Distributed Electricity Production
The devastating tornadoes that hit parts of Ottawa and Gatineau last Friday showed the need for a more resilient, distributed electricity system, the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op (OREC) concludes, in an after-action blog report on the impacts of the storm.
Canada’s Biggest-Ever Battery-Electric Bus Buy to Bring 40 New Vehicles to Montreal, Laval
Transit agencies in Montreal and Laval, Quebec are on the verge of buying 40 new electric buses from Winnipeg-based New Flyer Canada ULC, in what the company is calling Canada’s biggest battery-electric bus procurement to date.
TAF Completes Greater Toronto and Hamilton’s First Regional GHG Inventory
The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) held one-fifth of Canada’s population and GDP in 2015 but produced only about 7% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a first-ever regional inventory produced by The Atmospheric Fund.
London, New York Mayors Urge Cities Worldwide to Dump Their Fossil Investments
Pointing to a summer of record heat and extreme weather in which London was improbably hot and dry, while New York was unexpectedly rainy, Mayors Sadiq Khan and Bill de Blasio are calling on cities around the world to join them in divesting their shares in fossil fuel companies and join a new global initiative on finance and investment.
250,000 People at 900 Events Join Rise for Climate Protests
With UN climate talks about to conclude in Bangkok and the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) due to convene in San Francisco this week, more than 250,000 citizens took to the streets Saturday from Kathmandu to Paris, from Antarctica to Puerto Rico to demand action on climate change and carbon pollution.
Greening Paris Schoolyards Will Create ‘Islands of Cool’ for Summer Heat Waves
A plan to green the schoolyards of Paris will make local children happier, promote social cohesion, and may even help cool the City of Lights as it faces epic hot summers—if the plan itself can survive a widespread psychological lockdown resulting from repeat terror attacks.
Sault Ste. Marie Battery System, Canada’s Largest, to Save Local Businesses $3 Million Per Year
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario is about to become the home of Canada’s biggest battery storage system, a 48-megawatt/144-megawatt-hour system to be supplied by Fluence, a joint venture of AES Corporation and German industrial giant Siemens.
Vermont Utility Uses Home Batteries to Cut Peak Demand During Heat Wave, Save $510,000
Vermont utility Green Mountain Power (GMP) saved at least US$510,000 during the northern hemisphere’s continuing summer heat wave, using its customers’ Tesla Powerwall batteries to reduce peak electricity demand in what Greentech Media is calling “one of the most robust natural experiments so far to test the efficacy of decentralized energy resources in reducing system-wide stress”.
Calvert: Cities Need Practical Programs More Than ‘Earnest’ 100% RE Targets
Canadian municipalities serious about the post-carbon transition should abandon earnest declarations of formal 100% RE targets—avowals which promise far more than cities can actually deliver—and instead focus on facilitating that transition, writes University of Guelph geographer and community activist Kirby Calvert, in a recent post for Policy Options.
Colorado’s Low-Income Solar Program Sets the Pace for Other States
Colorado has hit on a formula for energy assistance that helps low-income communities cut their energy bills, while expanding the state’s use of renewable energy and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.
Ontario Cancels Renewables Projects and Cycling Funds, Pushes On with Nuclear Relicencing
Doug Ford’s new Progressive Conservative government in Ontario continued to flail away at the province’s efforts at an energy transition last week, with new moves that risked C$100 million in ratepayer costs for a cancelled wind farm, undermined renewables supply chains by cancelling 758 smaller projects, and put municipal cycling infrastructure at risk as funds from the previous government’s carbon cap-and-trade program begin to dry up.
Berkeley Must Embrace Urban Density to Achieve Climate Goals
Earnest pledges to increase Berkeley’s urban density, thereby making it a world-class leader on climate action, are being threatened by neighbourhood opposition which all too often has thwarted the city’s past impulses toward progressive action.
Massachusetts, Rhode Island Take the Lead in Emerging U.S. Market for Offshore Wind
Recent contracts for 1.2 gigawatts of offshore wind development have thrust Massachusetts and Rhode Island into the lead among U.S. states preparing to participate in a nascent but rapidly-growing market, Greentech Media reports.
Paris Sweats the Details of Making Transit Free for All
As Paris looks to make all public transit free in a bid to sharply reduce air pollution and carbon emissions and improve human health, planners are coming to grips with the cost of the effort—and the reality that many people may still prefer their cars.
Two of the world’s biggest economies, India and California, both reported big renewable energy breakthroughs last week, with each of them logging multiple gigawatts of increased electricity generation capacity.
Seattle Mulls Congestion Pricing to Cut Tailpipe Emissions
Determined that Seattle will do its part to battle global climate change, Mayor Jenny Durkan is floating a 12-point plan to reduce her city’s sizeable greenhouse gas emissions, including a possible fee for drivers entering the congested downtown core, reports community radio station KUOW.
101 Cities Source at Least 70% of Electricity from Renewables
Just over 100 cities around the world sourced at least 70% of their electricity from renewable sources in 2017, a dramatic increase from the 42 that had hit that milestone in 2015, according to a new report by UK-based disclosure and environmental impact researchers CDP.
30 U.S. Cities Plot Joint Buy for 114,000 Electric Vehicles
A US$10-billion buying spree for electric vehicles is the latest step 30 American cities are taking to demonstrate demand for low-emission vehicles and undercut the Trump administration’s pro-fossil, anti-regulatory agenda.
C40 Cities To-Do List Highlights Familiar Urban Solutions
A report late last year by C40 Cities and the Arup global consulting group lists more than 2,000 immediate actions—two-thirds of them in the buildings sector—that could reduce global carbon emissions by 45 megatonnes by 2020, the Toronto Atmospheric Fund reported in a blog post last week.
Farmers Sue Alberta Fossil for Unpaid Oil Lease Rent
Put off by their tenant’s abrupt decision to cease making its lease payments, two Alberta farmers have launched what may become the first class action lawsuit against unpaid oil leases—a far too common practice that weighs heavily on the public purse, and on rural landowners’ finances.
Lawsuit Calls for Duke Energy, Not North Carolina Ratepayers, to Fund Coal Ash Cleanup
North Carolina-based Duke Energy is pushing for permission from the state’s utility commission to impose rate increases to cover the US$9 billion it will need for coal ash cleanup. But the company will be seeing the state’s attorney general, along with local environmental groups, in supreme court.
Supreme Court Decision on Northern Quebec Uranium Mine Reinforces Social Licence, Indigenous Authority
The Supreme Court of Canada’s refusal to hear a case revolving around a proposed uranium mine near the Cree community of Mistissini reinforces Indigenous communities’ authority over natural resource development in their territories and underscores the importance of social licence for resource projects, the Grand Council of the Crees said late last month.
Maui Files Lawsuit to Recover Climate Damages from 20 Fossil Companies
Maui County in Hawaii has filed a lawsuit against 20 oil and gas companies, including colossal fossils ExxonMobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips, hoping to secure compensation for the rising costs the community faces due to climate change.
Horgan Takes Fire for Boosting Fossil Subsidies as B.C. Election Nears [Sign-On]
With British Columbia five days away from a provincial election October 24, and mail-in voting already well under way, Premier John Horgan’s New Democrats are taking fire for doubling down on the subsidies the previous Liberal government had extended to the province’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.
Ontario’s Ford Government Guts Environmental Protections, Undermines Health Record
While Ontario’s Ford government has proven to be an able defender of health in the face of COVID-19, it continues to be a profound threat to the environment, gutting established protections, hobbling climate action at every opportunity and, most recently, hamstringing the province’s environmental review process.
Hoboken, NJ Launches the Latest Climate Liability Suit Against Big Oil
In the latest in a groundswell of climate liability lawsuits, the coastal city of Hoboken, New Jersey is suing six fossil giants as well as the American Petroleum Institute (API) trade group, accusing them of a deliberate, decades-long campaign of deception and demanding compensation for current and future climate impacts.
Baltimore Case against Big Oil to Proceed in State Court
Baltimore citizens seeking to hold Big Oil liable for the devastating consequences of its activities had cause to celebrate last week when an appeals court denied the industry’s bid to have the case moved to a more sympathetic federal court. The suit is one of several under way that target the “elaborate disinformation campaign” intended to suppress public knowledge about the climate-destroying impacts of fossil fuel burning.
‘Bell Tolls on Carbon Economy’ as UK Court Rules Third Heathrow Runway Illegal
United Kingdom climate campaigners are declaring a precedent-setting win after an appeal court ruled the proposed third runway at Heathrow Airport illegal, citing the national government’s failure to include the country’s climate commitments in the project planning process.
U.S. Judges Toss Landmark Youth Climate Case, Send Plaintiffs Back to the Ballot Box
After a five-year push just to secure a trial date, the landmark Juliana v. United States youth climate justice case is hanging by a thread, after two out of three judges who heard the case before the federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concluded that it didn’t belong in court.
‘Cruel Parody of Anti-Trust Enforcement’ as Trump Justice Department Probes Automakers’ Emissions Deal with California
In what a New York Times editorial calls a “cruel parody of anti-trust enforcement”, the U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation after four major automakers embarrassed Donald Trump by striking a deal with California to boost their vehicles’ fuel efficiency and reduce their tailpipe emissions.
Governments, Corporations Face 1,300 Climate Lawsuits in 28 Countries Since 1990
With more than 1,300 legal actions on the books in 28 countries since 1990, a new report is pointing to litigation as a powerful tool for addressing governments’ and corporations’ role in the climate crisis.
Motion Asks Toronto City Council to Study Climate Disaster Costs, Consider Fossil Lawsuit
Toronto will look into the costs it will incur as a result of climate change and whether a climate accountability lawsuit against fossil producers is worth pursuing if city council adopts a motion being introduced this week by Councillor Mike Layton.
Courtenay Becomes 20th B.C. City to Send Accountability Letter to Major Fossils
British Columbia municipalities campaigning to have oil, gas, and coal companies cover their fair share of the cost of local climate impacts celebrated a milestone last week, when the City of Courtenay became the twentieth community to send accountability letters to 20 major fossils, West Coast Environmental Law reports.