Pandemic Lessons & Local Climate Action
This section of the Playbook was created to support local governments as they navigate the complex challenges of supporting local pandemic recovery efforts while stepping up to the urgent challenge of deep emissions reductions across our communities.
The 2020s is the decade of climate action: At all levels of government and internationally, there is agreement that we need to slash emissions, essentially in half, by 2030 to get us on the path to net-zero emissions by 2050 and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Communities across BC and beyond geared up for this decade in 2019 with a wave of climate emergency declarations and commitments to more ambitious and rapid strategies to bring down emissions. When the pandemic hit in 2020, local climate momentum was put to the test as local governments stepped up to the new challenge of pandemic response.
We can learn from the pandemic experience: Among the many challenges of the last year and a half, we have learned that the combination of policies, incentives, powerful and sustained messaging, and voluntary behaviour change can rapidly shift social norms. Local governments took swift and decisive action using the best available scientific data, mobilizing rapid responses that were adaptive to changing conditions and new information emerging; this must continue to be the case as we move through the Decade of Climate Action.
Given the inevitability of further economic and social disruption as climate change continues to accelerate, climate-inclusive economic recovery planning is critical. Crafting recovery strategies that respond to climate action while addressing health & well-being, the economy, equity, and resilience is more than possible – it’s practical.
Opportunities exist to Build Back Better, employing strategies that offer synergies with climate action and other local priorities, as demonstrated in case studies and precedents in communities that can be applied to BC and Canada. Applying or adapting these strategies can provide the following desired outcomes:
- Increasing jobs and skills within communities, and advancing local economic recovery.
- Reducing GHG emissions (carbon footprints) and meeting local, provincial, and federal emission reduction targets.
- Building resilience and adaptation to climate impacts, while increasing self-sufficiency.
- Social co-benefits such as improving or restoring health, social cohesion, equity, and advancing a cultural shift towards sustainable lifestyles.
Local Climate Solutions for Building Back Better
Actively building the future is full of opportunity to support healthy, resilient communities that provide hope to residents and businesses, and ensure co-benefits between COVID-19 recovery and accelerated climate solutions. Leadership by local governments can take many forms – explore solutions your community can adopt (more to come soon):
Enabling Deeper Change
Create the structures and put the supporting resources in place to facilitate recovery plans and actions created through a climate lens with equity front and centre.
Low Carbon Transportation and Land Use
Transform how people move through and exist in your community, reducing air pollution, promoting healthy lifestyles, and improving safety and livability.
Provide win-win opportunities for businesses, residents, and governments by enhancing energy efficiency, long-term cost savings, and job creation.
Closing the Loop on Waste
Reduce waste to landfill and create new job opportunities by incentivizing circular economies and designing waste out of the system.
Adaptation and Nature-Based Solutions
Reduce risks, vulnerabilities, and infrastructure costs while adding valuable natural amenities and promoting balance with nature.
Mobilizing Residents on Local Climate Action
Develop community-based local action plans which build resident capacity, neighbourliness, lighter footprints, and hope.
A recent report by UBC’s Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP) in partnership with Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) and Community Energy Association (CEA) identifies various ‘wins’ between COVID recovery and climate action. Click here to read the report.