Motion Declaring a Climate Emergency


Ottawa— On April 16, Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard will present a motion at the Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management declaring a climate emergency. If this motion is approved by the committee and city council, Ottawa will join Halifax, Vancouver, Hamilton, Kingston, Richmond and Edmunston, NB, as Canadian cities declaring climate emergencies. 

This motion will serve the purpose of “naming, framing and deepening our commitment to protecting our economy, our eco systems and our community from climate change.” Councillor Menard hopes it will provide the urgency to strengthen and coordinate the efforts of city staff on renewable energy, adaptation, public health and asset management.  

“Ottawa residents care about the environment, and they care about leaving a better city and a better world for future generations,” says Menard. “As a capital city, we have a role to play as a municipal leader in the transition to a low-carbon economy. “ 

On the heels of a new government report stating that Canada’s climate is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, it is past time that we officially recognize the existential threat posed by climate change, argues Councillor Menard. 

“This is a first step,” continues Menard. “There’s more work to be done to be proper stewards of the environment, but this motion will help set us on the path of fighting climate change and environmental degradation.” 

If passed by the Standing Committee on April 16, the motion will then go to council for approval.  

The text of the motion follows...

[Photo Credit: Ben Powless]


WHEREAS Climate change is currently contributing to billions of dollars in property and infrastructure damage worldwide, stressing local and international economies;

AND WHEREAS, Climate change is currently jeopardizing the health and survival of many species and other natural environments worldwide, stressing local and international eco systems;

AND WHEREAS Climate change is currently harming human populations through rising sea levels and other extraordinary phenomena like intense wildfires worldwide, extreme heat events, and more variable and unpredictable droughts and heavy rains, stressing local and international communities;

AND WHEREAS recent international research has indicated a need for massive reduction in carbon emissions in the next 11 years to avoid further and devastating economic, ecological, and societal loss;

AND WHEREAS the City of Ottawa Emergency Management Plan defines emergency as “any situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property that is caused by natural, technological or human-caused hazards, whether intentional or otherwise.”

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management recommend Council:

  1. Officially declare a climate emergency for the purposes of naming, framing, and deepening our commitment to protecting our economy, our eco systems, and our community from climate change;

  2. Establish a Council Sponsors Group comprised of representatives from the Standing Committees on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management, Planning Committee, Transportation Committee, Transit Commission, the Ottawa Board of Health and the Councillor Liaison of the Environment Stewardship Advisory Committee;

  3. Direct City staff to include the following in the review and update of the AQCCMP:

    a) An analysis of how the AQCCMP’s long term target to reduce GHG emissions 80% below 2012 levels by 2050 compares to the IPCC’s targets for limiting global warming to 1.5 ºC

    b) Midterm (2030) corporate and community GHG emission reduction targets

    c) Climate Change mitigation and adaptation priorities for next five years (2019-2024) to embed climate change considerations across all elements of City business;

  4. Direct City staff to include the following in the Energy Evolution Final Report:

    a) Status update of Energy Evolution Phase 1 actions

    b) New concrete actions and resource implications (staff and financial) to achieve GHG emission reduction targets

    c) Use an equity and inclusion lens in the prioritization of actions

    d) Funding and savings options for the City when implementing emission reductions;

  5. Direct City staff to report back, within the 2019 calendar year, on a spending plan for the Hydro Ottawa Dividends Surplus that would help reduce community and corporate GHG emissions beyond the scope of the City’s current climate targets while also saving money;

  6. Direct City staff to complete a vulnerability assessment and develop a climate resiliency strategy to reduce the impacts of a changing climate;

  7. Recognize climate change as a strategic priority in the City’s strategic plan and accompanying budget directions for the remaining Term of Council; and

  8. Work with senior levels of government to accelerate ambition and action to meet the urgency of climate change and provide additional resources for municipalities and the public to reduce their GHG emissions and build resiliency to climate impacts.

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