Director to lead Hamilton’s carbon-cutting climate action strategy

News Aug 09, 2022 by Teviah Moro Hamilton Spectator

The city will create a new climate change office to help steer Hamilton to a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

A full-time director will lead the office and implement a climate action strategy backed by city politicians.

Two documents — a community energy and emissions plan (CEEP) and climate change impact adaption plan — are the cornerstones of the greenhouse-gas-cutting road map.

The CEEP includes a variety initiatives such as an energy retrofit program for older homes, planting 50,000 trees a year, “green” building standards, “decarbonizing” industry and encouraging electric vehicles.

The adaption plan, meanwhile, prepares the city and its residents for mounting risks like flooding, wild storms and extreme heat.

The overarching strategy is estimated to cost $11.4 billion by 2050, Trevor Imhoff, senior project manager overseeing the project, told council Monday.

“These investments would need to come from all levels of government and the private sector. To confirm, this would not be the full responsibility of the City of Hamilton.”

But the blueprint would lead to roughly $63 million in community savings through avoided fuel and energy costs, as well as revenue generation, Imhoff pointed out.

“These savings will not just be for large corporations or government. Individuals and households will directly benefit, as well.”

It’s estimated the average household will spend about $2,800 less through the strategy than in the “business-as-planned” scenario by 2050, Imhoff noted.

But the “cost of doing nothing,” will be severe, he warned, pointing to studies that found climate change would lead to billions of dollars in costs.

In addition to the director position, which is pegged at about $215,000, the new office will rely on a staffer transferred from public health.

The plan also calls for the next council to consider during 2023 budget talks two more positions for the team.

The 2022-26 council — to be elected Oct. 24 — will also weigh in on the terms of reference of a new climate change advisory committee that will offer feedback to city politicians and staff.

On Monday, delegates welcomed the new strategy to tackle greenhouse gas emissions following council’s declaration of a climate emergency in 2019.

The city redeployed staff on the file to the COVID-19 pandemic, which other municipalities didn’t, Ian Borsuk, climate change campaign co-ordinator with Environment Hamilton, told council. “And we have fallen behind.”

But Borsuk said the contingent of dedicated staff could act upon calls for “bolder targets” and defined timelines to carry out the strategy. “In fact, I’m really excited for what the potential outcomes for this will be going forward.”

The climate plan has “lots of flaws and some fuzzy thinking, but it’s far better than doing nothing,” added Don McLean, an activist with Hamilton 350.

A “weakness” is the ecological focus, he said, suggesting it could be bolstered with a $10-million-a-year commitment to carry out two wetland projects, much like an effort by the Hamilton Conservation Authority in upper Stoney Creek to reduce flooding.

“Let’s take this good example and build on it.”

Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, however, argued it was “almost unconscionable” to “burden” the future council with the $215,000 director position and millions in costs to implement the strategy amid a gloomy fiscal forecast.

“It’s a freight train coming down the track inside the tunnel and there’s no light on the other side of the tunnel.”

Coun. Maureen Wilson, meanwhile, contended there’s no time to waste amid the climate emergency. “We have to be innovative. We have to do things differently and we have to act.”

City politicians backed the strategy in a 12-1 vote. Ferguson was the lone dissenter.

Teviah Moro is a reporter at The Spectator. tmoro@thespec.com

Director to lead Hamilton’s carbon-cutting climate action strategy

Plan involves $11.4 billion in investment by 2050, but ‘cost of doing nothing’ more severe, staff say

News Aug 09, 2022 by Teviah Moro Hamilton Spectator

The city will create a new climate change office to help steer Hamilton to a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

A full-time director will lead the office and implement a climate action strategy backed by city politicians.

Two documents — a community energy and emissions plan (CEEP) and climate change impact adaption plan — are the cornerstones of the greenhouse-gas-cutting road map.

The CEEP includes a variety initiatives such as an energy retrofit program for older homes, planting 50,000 trees a year, “green” building standards, “decarbonizing” industry and encouraging electric vehicles.

The adaption plan, meanwhile, prepares the city and its residents for mounting risks like flooding, wild storms and extreme heat.

The overarching strategy is estimated to cost $11.4 billion by 2050, Trevor Imhoff, senior project manager overseeing the project, told council Monday.

“These investments would need to come from all levels of government and the private sector. To confirm, this would not be the full responsibility of the City of Hamilton.”

But the blueprint would lead to roughly $63 million in community savings through avoided fuel and energy costs, as well as revenue generation, Imhoff pointed out.

“These savings will not just be for large corporations or government. Individuals and households will directly benefit, as well.”

It’s estimated the average household will spend about $2,800 less through the strategy than in the “business-as-planned” scenario by 2050, Imhoff noted.

But the “cost of doing nothing,” will be severe, he warned, pointing to studies that found climate change would lead to billions of dollars in costs.

In addition to the director position, which is pegged at about $215,000, the new office will rely on a staffer transferred from public health.

The plan also calls for the next council to consider during 2023 budget talks two more positions for the team.

The 2022-26 council — to be elected Oct. 24 — will also weigh in on the terms of reference of a new climate change advisory committee that will offer feedback to city politicians and staff.

On Monday, delegates welcomed the new strategy to tackle greenhouse gas emissions following council’s declaration of a climate emergency in 2019.

The city redeployed staff on the file to the COVID-19 pandemic, which other municipalities didn’t, Ian Borsuk, climate change campaign co-ordinator with Environment Hamilton, told council. “And we have fallen behind.”

But Borsuk said the contingent of dedicated staff could act upon calls for “bolder targets” and defined timelines to carry out the strategy. “In fact, I’m really excited for what the potential outcomes for this will be going forward.”

The climate plan has “lots of flaws and some fuzzy thinking, but it’s far better than doing nothing,” added Don McLean, an activist with Hamilton 350.

A “weakness” is the ecological focus, he said, suggesting it could be bolstered with a $10-million-a-year commitment to carry out two wetland projects, much like an effort by the Hamilton Conservation Authority in upper Stoney Creek to reduce flooding.

“Let’s take this good example and build on it.”

Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, however, argued it was “almost unconscionable” to “burden” the future council with the $215,000 director position and millions in costs to implement the strategy amid a gloomy fiscal forecast.

“It’s a freight train coming down the track inside the tunnel and there’s no light on the other side of the tunnel.”

Coun. Maureen Wilson, meanwhile, contended there’s no time to waste amid the climate emergency. “We have to be innovative. We have to do things differently and we have to act.”

City politicians backed the strategy in a 12-1 vote. Ferguson was the lone dissenter.

Teviah Moro is a reporter at The Spectator. tmoro@thespec.com

Director to lead Hamilton’s carbon-cutting climate action strategy

Plan involves $11.4 billion in investment by 2050, but ‘cost of doing nothing’ more severe, staff say

News Aug 09, 2022 by Teviah Moro Hamilton Spectator

The city will create a new climate change office to help steer Hamilton to a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

A full-time director will lead the office and implement a climate action strategy backed by city politicians.

Two documents — a community energy and emissions plan (CEEP) and climate change impact adaption plan — are the cornerstones of the greenhouse-gas-cutting road map.

The CEEP includes a variety initiatives such as an energy retrofit program for older homes, planting 50,000 trees a year, “green” building standards, “decarbonizing” industry and encouraging electric vehicles.

The adaption plan, meanwhile, prepares the city and its residents for mounting risks like flooding, wild storms and extreme heat.

The overarching strategy is estimated to cost $11.4 billion by 2050, Trevor Imhoff, senior project manager overseeing the project, told council Monday.

“These investments would need to come from all levels of government and the private sector. To confirm, this would not be the full responsibility of the City of Hamilton.”

But the blueprint would lead to roughly $63 million in community savings through avoided fuel and energy costs, as well as revenue generation, Imhoff pointed out.

“These savings will not just be for large corporations or government. Individuals and households will directly benefit, as well.”

It’s estimated the average household will spend about $2,800 less through the strategy than in the “business-as-planned” scenario by 2050, Imhoff noted.

But the “cost of doing nothing,” will be severe, he warned, pointing to studies that found climate change would lead to billions of dollars in costs.

In addition to the director position, which is pegged at about $215,000, the new office will rely on a staffer transferred from public health.

The plan also calls for the next council to consider during 2023 budget talks two more positions for the team.

The 2022-26 council — to be elected Oct. 24 — will also weigh in on the terms of reference of a new climate change advisory committee that will offer feedback to city politicians and staff.

On Monday, delegates welcomed the new strategy to tackle greenhouse gas emissions following council’s declaration of a climate emergency in 2019.

The city redeployed staff on the file to the COVID-19 pandemic, which other municipalities didn’t, Ian Borsuk, climate change campaign co-ordinator with Environment Hamilton, told council. “And we have fallen behind.”

But Borsuk said the contingent of dedicated staff could act upon calls for “bolder targets” and defined timelines to carry out the strategy. “In fact, I’m really excited for what the potential outcomes for this will be going forward.”

The climate plan has “lots of flaws and some fuzzy thinking, but it’s far better than doing nothing,” added Don McLean, an activist with Hamilton 350.

A “weakness” is the ecological focus, he said, suggesting it could be bolstered with a $10-million-a-year commitment to carry out two wetland projects, much like an effort by the Hamilton Conservation Authority in upper Stoney Creek to reduce flooding.

“Let’s take this good example and build on it.”

Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, however, argued it was “almost unconscionable” to “burden” the future council with the $215,000 director position and millions in costs to implement the strategy amid a gloomy fiscal forecast.

“It’s a freight train coming down the track inside the tunnel and there’s no light on the other side of the tunnel.”

Coun. Maureen Wilson, meanwhile, contended there’s no time to waste amid the climate emergency. “We have to be innovative. We have to do things differently and we have to act.”

City politicians backed the strategy in a 12-1 vote. Ferguson was the lone dissenter.

Teviah Moro is a reporter at The Spectator. tmoro@thespec.com