Strategies for High-Impact Action
Across and Up and Down the Org Chart
Climate action policy crosses over into multiple local-government departments. To ensure effective and durable programs, staff and/or elected officials pursuing a climate action agenda will want to coordinate and collaborate between these departments:
|· Land-use planning
· Economic development
· Executive branch
|· Engineering and public works
· Public health
· Environment and sustainability
· Information systems
Engage with colleagues both across and up and down the org chart. This chart from Quest Canada's Getting to Implementation Resource outlines how various proven climate actions touch on various departments and areas of authority. Many local governments choose to establish an interdepartmental “climate action team.” Regular reporting relationships between junior staff, senior staff, and the executive team can ensure that climate action retains a high profile in your community.
AND KEEP ON ENGAGING...
Local governments will lead and support climate action, but community residents and stakeholders can be useful allies. Effective and ongoing engagement can help shore up support. Some of the most critical actors to engage include:
Ensure staff work programs allow time to conduct effective and ongoing community engagement. Such engagement could include the following:
Collaborating with nearby or adjacent communities (or throughout an entire region) can provide cost savings, improve program results, support larger projects (scale and cost), and support opportunities that are too large in scale for a community to manage on its own.
Local government climate action does not simply help advance federal and provincial climate and energy objectives— it’s critical to their success. Through organizations such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, provincial, territorial, and federal governments can provide research, pilot project support, loans, and grants to support local-government studies and projects.
Provincial governments can accelerate community climate action by:
- Requiring communities to produce energy plans and/or set GHG reduction targets, and backing them up with project funding, research, and inventory data;
- Introducing or strengthening regulations, carbon pricing, energy-efficient building codes, and funding for transit, active transportation, zero-emission vehicles, and energy and infrastructure projects, and by increasing renewable-energy generation;
- Offering grants for infrastructure and plans; and
- Supporting pilot programs for innovation.
The provincial government and its agencies are often responsible for creating the authority that enables local governments to take action. The annual Union of BC Municipalities convention serves as an effective venue for local governments to raise issues and pursue collective action. Collaborations such as the BC Municipal Climate Council can also help communicate needs and priorities to provincial governments.
Private-sector investors can provide financial and technical support for community energy and infrastructure projects. Local governments can support investors by giving a project visibility in the community, by introducing supportive policies and regulations, and by partnering on a project’s design, construction, and delivery. Deeper levels of involvement present increased risk, but can deliver additional community benefits, including sources of local government income beyond taxation.
Utilities can be effective project partners and can also provide information campaigns and funding for studies, projects and programs on:
- Community-scale renewable energy generation;
- Zero-emission vehicle infrastructure; and
- Pilot programs for innovation.
At the local level, your community’s businesses can sponsor initiatives such as energy-efficiency campaigns or community workshops.
MOVE FAST AND PLAN FOR THE LONG GAME
- Copy and adapt policy from other local governments;
- Access available grant opportunities;
- Demonstrate leadership in your own operations;
- Lower barriers to the big moves.
- Set up internal carbon-mitigation funds for grant matching;
- Build relationships with adjacent and nearby communities, and scope regional level opportunities;
- Scope anticipated project costs;
- Prepare promising projects for new grant opportunities.
MEASURE AND REPORT EMISSIONS
The Province of BC has provided community energy and emissions data for every local government in BC since 2007 (the Community Energy and Emissions Inventory – CEEI – data). This is partly why most community emissions reduction targets reference 2007 as the base year. The availability of community-level data has been instrumental in helping local governments with community energy and emissions planning, however there are gaps in data availability and consistency, particularly with transportation data. Local governments can commission their own updated and detailed energy and emissions inventory and use tools to track and report emissions over time.
LEVERAGE EXISTING PROCESSES
On November 4, 2019, City of New Westminster Council adopted a new budgeting framework as part of the City’s Climate Emergency Response. The framework will guide the 2020 budgeting process and is consists of the following principles:
- City staff will prioritize climate emergency actions in departmental work plans that are expected to provide the greatest impact per dollar invested related to reducing GHGs, and/or increasing resilience or mitigation for the most vulnerable.
- The City will prioritize climate emergency initiatives over other non-climate related priorities in the Five-Year Financial Plan, including reallocation of Capital where necessary.
- The City will embed carbon pricing into the capital and operational decision-making processes (i.e., by quantifying and considering the carbon impacts of corporate activities going forward).
- The City will utilize creative and innovative methods to effect reduced emissions, while striving for affordability, equity and liveability as an additional lens in developing the 2020 to 2024 Financial Plan.
- The City will explore implementing a Green Levy on Electrical Utility bills to fund climate emergency initiatives.