False Creek at night. Photo by Naomi Devine

Join SSG at Renewable Cities. We’re throwing an afterparty you won’t want to miss!

SSG is pleased to support Renewable Cities, a global program of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue in Vancouver, Canada. We are participating in their Global Learning Forum 2017: a solutions-focused dialogue on the transition to 100% renewable energy in cities. Leaders from local governments, the private sector, utilities, and the NGO and research communities will be in attendance and we look forward to connecting with everyone.

In celebration of our recent report, TransformTO: Climate Action for a Healthy, Equitable & Prosperous Toronto – The Pathway to a Low Carbon Future, we are throwing an afterparty for all attendees of Renewable Cities. Join us for a social evening to connect, engage, and share your stories about how we are working to make cities renewable, one step at a time.

SSG members Jeremy Murphy, Julia Meyer-MacLeod, and Naomi Devine will be attending Renewable Cities. Be sure to connect with us and say hello at the event or at our afterparty.

Afterparty Details

Thursday, May 18, starting at 6:30 pm

The Belmont Bar, Vancouver BC
1006 Granville St

The Good in 2016 Review: The Year in Climate Change

2016 saw many urban-related climate action developments. This January, we’re taking a look at the good, the not so good, and what may be in store for 2017.

The Paris Agreement came into effect

At the end of 2015, nations at the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 21) adopted The Paris Agreement, the outcome of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). To come into legal force, the agreement had to be ratified (signed into legal force by each country’s government) by at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions. The agreement has now been signed by 194 countries and ratified by 118, covering 80% of global emissions.

One of the key objectives of the Agreement is to limit global warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C, which would avoid the worst of projected climate change impacts.

For cities, ratification of the The Paris Agreement means there should be increased national climate change initiatives, as well as support for municipal corporate and community emissions reductions and renewable energy projects.

Further reading

Interested in tracking the Paris Agreement?

Analysis of the Paris Agreement

The City of Toronto made major climate action moves

Toronto has adopted the ambitious and exciting goal of reducing emissions 80% below 1990 levels (or 17,600,000 tonnes per year) by 2050. The TransformTO project was undertaken to achieve this goal. It is a collaborative project co-led by the City of Toronto’s Environment and Energy Division and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund. TransformTO is informed by community engagements and robust technical scenario modelling, aiming to understand what the most emissions, energy and cost-effective carbon reduction strategies are for the city. The results will generate a long-term climate strategy that updates Toronto’s existing Climate Action Plan.

SSG is leading the high profile energy and emissions quantification project for TransformTO. The modelling aspects of the project include developing an action plan for reaching the City’s 2020 GHG reduction target, and a decision-support framework focused on achieving Toronto’s reduction target, which aligns with the Province’s reduction of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Phase 1 involved developing a GHG emissions baseline and Build-As-Planned (BAP) scenario to quantify the emissions reductions potentials of Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions to the year 2050. The inventory and projection is undertaken according to the Global Protocol for Cities (GPC) using CityInSight, a spatially explicit energy, emissions and finance model developed by SSG and whatIf? Technologies. This process involved significant efforts in collecting, organizing, and interpreting data from public and private entities, including spatial geographical information (GIS) and Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) data. A major analysis of City, Regional and Provincial policy was undertaken to develop assumptions and model a BAP scenario.

Phase 2, currently underway, involves modelling the GHG emissions reduction potential of implementing a host of low carbon actions to meet the City’s target, and an analysis of the co-benefits and co-harms of these actions. A key focus has been evaluating the implications of land-use policy for key GHG emissions drivers such as transportation and buildings, and the opportunities associated with interventions such as transit and district energy.

Further reading:

Most of Canada adopted a Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change

The Prime Minister and First Ministers of eight provinces (Manitoba and Saskatchewan declined to participate) and three territories agreed to a national framework for climate change and clean growth in 2016.  

A national price on carbon will be implemented as a key part of the framework. It will be $10 per tonne of emissions starting in 2018, rising to $50 per tonne by 2022. The federal government will impose a carbon tax on those provinces that do not enact their own.

The first ministers also agreed to:

  • Phase out coal-fired power by 2030;
  • Provide 90% of power in Canada from clean energy sources in just over a decade;
  • Reduce methane in the oil and gas sector;
  • Protect the carbon stored in ecological areas (forests, wetlands, farmland);
  • Improve building codes to advance energy efficiency; and
  • Deliver annual progress reports on implementation.

Further reading:

The world continues to heat up

While the Paris Agreement aims to enable warming to a limit of 1.5 degrees, the world got a glimpse of what that would look like in 2016. Climate Central reported that: “the average global temperature change for the first three months of 2016 was 1.48°C, essentially equaling the 1.5°C warming threshold agreed to by COP 21 negotiators in Paris last December.

Further reading:

What might be in store for 2017?

Despite international agreements and national intentions, many recognize the slow pace of action inherent at these scales. Here in Canada, a focus on provincial and local government climate action will be essential to the success of the newly adopted national framework, and other efforts. Coalitions of municipalities have developed from this recognition, both nationally and internationally. Municipalities can access coalitions such as these for support on urban planning and climate action:

There is much to look forward to and participate in for 2017. To keep you in the loop, we suggest:

Paddling along Toronto's Waterfront

Project Update: TransformTO: High Profile Energy and Emissions Quantification for the City of Toronto

SSG is leading a high profile energy and emissions quantification project known as TransformTO. The modelling aspects of TransformTO include developing an action plan for reaching the City’s 2020 GHG reduction target, and a decision-support framework focused on achieving Toronto’s 2050 80×50 GHG reduction target, which aligns with the Province’s reduction of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Both the short term and long term analysis involved quantifying measures and actions directly relevant to those indicated in Schedule 1.

Part 1 involved developing a GHG emissions baseline and Build-As-Planned (BAP) scenario to quantify the emissions reductions potentials of Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions to the year 2050. The inventory and projection is undertaken according to the Global Protocol for Cities (GPC) using CityInSight, a spatially explicit energy, emissions and finance model developed by SSG and whatIf? Technologies. This process involved significant efforts in collecting, organizing, and interpreting data from public and private entities, including spatial geographical information (GIS) and Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) data. A major analysis of City, Regional and Provincial policy was undertaken to develop assumptions and model a BAP scenario.

Part 2, currently underway, involves modelling the GHG emissions reduction potential of implementing a host of low carbon actions to meet the City’s target, and an analysis of the co-benefits and co-harms of these actions. A key focus has been evaluating the implications of land-use policy for key GHG emissions drivers such as transportation and buildings, and the opportunities associated with interventions such as transit and district energy.

Progress to date:

  • The Baseline & BAP reports are complete.
  • The 2020 plan is complete and has been approved by Council where it was sent to the budget committee.
  • A detailed research & analysis report looking at the of Co-benefits and Co-harms Associated with Low Carbon Actions has been produced.
  • We are currently completing the low carbon modelling for 2050 – modelling the impact of low carbon actions using our model, CityInSight.

We’ve launched a new model for district energy – Plan4DE (Plan for District Energy)

SSG and our partners are pleased to announce the launch of Plan4DE (Plan for district energy). Plan4DE is a cutting-edge tool that addresses one of urban planning’s most challenging and up and coming areas – energy planning. Designed for use by city planners, architects, and engineers, Plan4DE assesses the viability of district energy vs. individual building energy use, including full cost accounting comparisons.

Example uses include:

  • Evaluating development plans, particularly at the neighbourhood scale
  • Exploring alternative development scenarios (e.g. assessing different building density scenarios)
  • Scanning for DE potential in existing neighbourhoods by assessing existing building density, arrangement, and energy loads

Three versions of the model are available(basic, intermediate and advanced) to accommodate a range of knowledge and technical user experience. The advanced version is fully unlocked, to allow customisation. Guidebooks and webinars have also been created to provide guidance on the use of Plan4DE.

Want to take a closer look? Check out the recording of our introductory webinar here.

Never miss a Plan4DE update by signing up for our mailing list here.

Low carbon city.

SSG partners with CDP to support the transition to low carbon cities

SSG has partnered with CDP to support European cities in reporting on GHG emissions and climate risk. Both SSG and CDP recognise the critical role of cities in advancing a low carbon future.  

CDP has worked with over 300 cities globally to manage over 1.67 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. CDP’s cities program demonstrates that cities are better managing their risk and increasing resiliency through more than 4,800 activities to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

“CDP has had a pivotal role in advancing climate action, firstly amongst corporations and now with cities. CDP’s work compliments SSG’s efforts to identify and implement low carbon pathways, using the lens of city planning”, says SSG Director Yuill Herbert.

SSG has fifteen years of experience working with cities, including undertaking GHG inventories using the GHG Protocol for Cities, performing emissions projections, and assessing emissions reductions strategies that consider financing, economic development, and quality of life. In Paris at COP21, SSG launched a new energy, emissions and finance model, CityInSight, designed to help cities evaluate and implement decarbonisation paths.

“SSG develops and implements comprehensive sustainability solutions for cities focused on climate action,” says Conor Riffle, Cities Director at CDP. “We are excited to welcome SSG on board as the first CDP cities consultancy partner for Europe and are confident they will continue to provide high quality services to cities responding to CDP.”

CDP offers a voluntary climate change reporting platform for city governments. The Cities program provides the world’s first global platform for municipal governments to disclose greenhouse gas emissions, climate change risks, and mitigation and adaptation strategies.  CDP collects and delivers materially relevant data for cities, the private sector, and other stakeholders.

Paddling along Toronto's Waterfront

SSG engaged to set direction on Toronto’s low carbon future.

The City of Toronto has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050. Reaching this goal will require major changes in the way that residents live, travel, work and consume goods and services.

TransformTO is a project that will engage Toronto residents and businesses in imagining the transformative changes needed to reach the goal, while at the same time improving public health, enhancing the local economy, and reducing social inequalities.

TransformTO cited SSG’s energy, emissions and climate change modelling expertise in engaging SSG to model scenarios that achieve the 80% target. SSG has partnered with whatIf Technologies and ARUP on this project. The team will assess a host of different emissions reduction strategies and actions that may be used to pursue the target, including new renewable energy production possibilities, energy efficiency programs, public transit options, bicycling infrastructure, neighbourhood development patterns, and solid and liquid waste diversion and treatment options.

SSG and partner whatIf Technologies will apply their cutting edge energy, emissions and finances model, CityInSight, to the task. The modelling process and outputs will contribute to establishing a decision-making framework for the City to use in identifying the best path to a low carbon future. The project will result in suggestions for key starting points and priority actions, summarized in two reports:

  • A short-term strategy (2017-2020) outlining the actions that will allow Toronto to meet its 30% emissions reduction by 2020 target through policy and programming.
  • A long-term (2020-2050) approach that will identify how to meet the 80% emissions reduction by 2050 target while generating a healthier, more prosperous, and equitable city.

SSG is excited to be working with Canada’s largest city on a project that will lead to amazing positive change, and one that will hopefully be a herald to other city sustainability planning projects.

SSG is helping towns and cities across Canada develop and implement strategies to address climate change. SSG has been actively involved in UN climate change negotiations with a particular focus on the role of cities, including most recently in Paris.  

Communiqué of Canada’s First Ministers

From the Prime Minister’s Web Site (http://pm.gc.ca/)

Canada’s First Ministers today issued a joint communiqué following the First Ministers’ Meeting and released a declaration on clean growth and climate change:

“In the spirit of cooperation and collaboration, we met today to discuss the economy and actions to address climate change and agreed on immediate work to support growth and create new jobs.

“Building on commitments and actions already taken by provinces and territories and the momentum from COP21 in Paris, we are moving toward a pan-Canadian framework for clean growth and climate change that will meet or exceed Canada’s international emissions targets, and will transition our country to a stronger, more resilient, low-carbon economy – while also improving our quality of life.

“We know that a fair transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy is necessary for our collective prosperity, competitiveness, health, and security. Taking smart and effective action today is essential for future generations. These decisions will put Canada at the forefront of the global clean growth economy, and will create opportunities to diversify our economies, open up access to new markets, reduce emissions, and generate good paying, long-term jobs for Canadians. Read more

Sunnier days: Update from Paris

It is sunny today in Paris and the hallways are buzzing with optimism. A draft text has been passed from the negotiators to the ministers and the text still includes many of the key aspects necessary for a meaningful agreement. Many challenges remain however, and ministers are working on issues such as loss and damage and the ongoing debate over the relationship between developed and developing countries, and the emissions gap between what countries have committed to and what is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change. Read more

À la prochaine a Paris

In this Issue #19

Our agenda in Paris

Seven members of our team will travel to Paris for the next two weeks. We have multiple objectives.

  1. The story of cities: Cities have a powerful role in plotting the trajectory to a low carbon future. We will be participating in the Climate Summit for Local Leaders and the Cities and Regions Pavilion led by ICLEI.
  2. Launching a new cities model. We will launch a new city-scale energy and emissions model in the Climate Generations area.
  3. We will be working to highlight the new district energy model that we have been developing for the International Energy Agency with a team of colleagues.
  4. One of our members, Rebecca Foon, is coordinating two major concerts at Le Trianon. These concerts have turned into a symbol of resilience. See the coverage in the Rolling Stone and further information below.
  5. Advocating for the role of co-operatives: Co-operatives are a powerful model that can contribute to a low carbon future while enhancing democracy, reducing inequality and providing stable employment. We will seek to highlight the role of co-operatives. See our backgrounder here.
  6. Climate bonds: Climate bonds can play a key role in helping finance the transition to a low carbon future and we will be tracking this discussion in Pars.

For daily updates, please follow our blog or watch for this briefing.

Read more