And, what comes next?

The years 2019 and 2020 may be long remembered as the turning point for municipal climate action in Canada. In 2019 alone, over 300 communities across Canada declared climate emergencies, spurred on by the IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C and the related greenhouse gas reduction pathways.  

Your community may be on the list of those who have declared a climate emergency or you may be thinking about declaring one. Either way, you might now be wondering what it actually means and what should come next. Below are some things to consider, beginning with declaring an emergency to actually accelerating action.  

Declaring an emergency  

At a minimum a climate emergency declaration includes a recognition of the reductions required to limit global warming to 1.5°C – in support of the Paris Agreement. What is most important, however, is that it results in action. So the declaration itself must be an urgent call to action – ultimately enabling expedited activities to reduce local GHG emissions.  

The District of Squamish, whom we are working with on a Community Climate Action Plan, recently passed a resolution that contains all these elements. Their planning process rooted in local opportunity is inspired by a bundling of Big Moves needed to reduce 2010 emissions by 45% by 2030.  

Planning and engagement 

Way to the east of Squamish, the City of Kingston declared an emergency in March 2019. Building on years of climate action, the declaration was a rallying cry to double down and convene a climate working group of university partners, construction partners, and people in the community to share ideas and implement solutions across Kingston. They just adjourned their third climate action symposium aimed at engaging and inspiring the community to get involved.  

The City of Edmonton has a comprehensive website with videos, stories and associated outreach programs to inspire residents to “Change for Climate” and the City of Mississauga worked with an escape room company to design and operate an ”Escape Climate Change” pop-up at key locations around the city.  

Accelerating action 

Back on the west coast, the City of New Westminster has organized their 2020 budget actions according to their Seven Bold Steps in response to the climate emergency. They are currently surveying the community about these steps, budget priorities and specific projects.  

They will soon be launching a communication and engagement strategy with the help of the Whistler Centre for Sustainability and Elevator Strategy to involve and inspire community stakeholders and residents to take action.   

This is just a quick summary of declaring a climate emergency and what comes next. If you are looking for support in your response to the climate emergency and how to accelerate implementation of your climate action plan, please reach out to Dan Wilson by email at .

Additional Resources

BC Climate Leaders Playbook Big Moves :



Budget Presentation Boards: 


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