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.

How does SSG help cities evaluate and implement decarbonisation paths?

This year, SSG released an integrated energy, emissions and finance model, CityInSight, designed specifically to support cities in identifying and implementing low carbon or decarbonisation pathways.

As part of our series of webinars on this model, here the fourth in the series here.

Hosted by Yuill Herbert from SSG and Marcus Williams from whatif Technologies, they will describe the design of the model with an update of it’s application.
SSG has partnered with whatIf? Technologies, an international leader in simulation modelling, to increase the sophistication, scope and capabilities of GHGProof in a new model – CityInSight. CityInSight also incorporates the Global GHG Protocol for Cities, a GHG accounting framework launched as the new global standard by the World Resources Institute, ICLEI, C40, UN Habitat and others at the UN Conference of the Parties in Lima in 2014..

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

We’re recruiting!

SSG is looking for two inspiring additions to our team as we expand and require additional support.

  1. Finance Coordinator and Administrator: 3 days a week* to start on Thursday 10th March 2016
  2. Communications Specialist: 5 days a month to start Monday 14th March 2016

*Candidates in Ottawa interested in a full-time position should specify this in their covering letter. One of SSG’s partners La Siembra is hiring a part-time bookkeeper as well and opportunities exist to build full-time hours between the two organisations: http://www.lasiembra.com/camino/en/careers

The deadline for applications is 26th February 2016 midnight in Eastern Time.

Please contact rebecca@ssg.coop if you have any queries.

As a workers cooperative, we believe it is the most equitable, accountable and active business model that enables cultural change from within. Our members’ expertise crosses disciplines, cultures and generations to create a different working experience that makes essential sustainability impacts possible.

Plan 4DE Webinar: Planning and District Energy with GGLO 1st February

In this webinar, GGLO share a perspective from planning and tell the story of developing visualisations for Plan4DE, including the lessons learnt, their observations and take you through the method and results in a fairly transparent way.

You can watch the webinar again here if you missed it and enjoy the discussion afterwards. If you have any queries about the project, please do get in touch(Please note there was an issue with recording so the introduction is missing). 

“Wonderful, and insightful, presentation.  Thanks to the presenters!  A wonderful, energy-focused tool to add to a traditional community planner’s toolbox.”

GGLO designs distinct places where communities of people connect and thrive. We seek to bring the essence of community alive in each of our projects – believing that the fundamental desire to interact and feel a part of something can be evoked through design. This perspective runs deep through our integrated practice, including planning and urban design, architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and research. Integrating our skills and services allows a deep exploration for how design can have the most positive impact in any context.

Founded in Seattle in 1986, we are results-driven, multidisciplinary experts approaching all scales of our work with flexibility and inquisitiveness. Over decades of practice GGLO has established a reputation in revitalizing communities, building-by-building and block-by-block.

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