What may surprise some, but what others have known and experienced is that Hamilton is a leader in Climate Change action. Rated as one of the top 10 cities in Canada actively working to address climate change, it is a shining example of local action taking place in a medium scale City. While Whistler, Vancouver, Halifax and Toronto are often highlighted for their progress, those within the environmental and sustainability sector are well-versed on the ground being covered in Hamilton.
Hamilton gained some recognition earlier this month as Brian Montgomery, Air and Climate Change Coordinator for City of Hamilton, was awarded Canada’s 2014 Clean50 award for his work with Hamilton’s Climate Change Action Charter. He also was recognized for helping Hamilton to surpass its corporate greenhouse gas reduction targets and for helping to achieve the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) Milestones 3, 4 and 5.
The Hamilton Climate Change Action Charter was launched in 2011 with 30 signatory organizations, which has steadily grown. In 2013 the charter reported 47 organizations had committed themselves and over 300 individuals. The Climate Change Action Charter connects the City of Hamilton with the community to enact change using straightforward language, clear reporting mechanisms, and promotes community recognition of sustainability efforts. The Charter was created in part because of public demand, but also because the City recognized that it was responsible for 1% of Hamilton’s carbon footprint; the City knew its impact could be exponential if it was able to connect with and facilitate corporate, private sector and community actions and awareness.
“One of the elements of our work that makes us unique is our history and successes at the local level and working with partners on sustainability” Brian comments, “similar projects and ideas exist in other municipalities, but we have made it a focus with our partners on being accessible, connected, local action orientated, and we have seen successes in the community meeting our sustainability goals”.
While the Hamilton Climate Change Action Charter has proved to be an important marker of success the City of Hamilton continues to look forward and hopes to continue to be a municipal thought leader. Next steps include a Community Climate Change Plan (which would complement Hamilton’s Corporate Plan and Action Charter), revised goals for Greenhouse Gas Emissions, increasing the number of Charter signatories through community partners, releasing of the Hamilton Climate Change Map, focussing onadaptation to climate change impacts and leveraging of Ontario Energy and transportation changes and programs.
“Take local action now, and don’t wait” Brian advises “We need to recognize even with emission reductions there will still be implications of climate change, but there are resourceful, innovative people out there in your community who are already thinking of these things and looking to partner. What we can do is continue to set goals, focus on local scalable actions within our community, and continue to serve as one example of leadership in Climate Action.”
The Charter celebrates its third anniversary this month and can be seen at: http://www.climatechangehamilton.ca/. The Hamilton Carbon Map, developed in partnership with McMaster University, can be seen at: http://www.mapclimatechange.ca/
To see the list of all of Canada’s Clean50 honourees visit: http://clean50.com/