UPDATE: Calgary will get a carbon budget! 

March 23, 2021:

Yesterday City Council voted 12-2 to approve the recommendation to fund the Growth and Development Climate Framework, which will include money to develop a climate budget. Below are a couple of slides from Administration's presentation at the Priorities and Finance Committee on March 15. It was heartening to see so much agreement that the debate is over and the only question remaining is how fast we will act. 

We will post the video as soon as it is available, or keep an eye on The City Minutes page. Scroll down to 'Past Meetings' and look under "SPC on Planning and Urban Development."  


Way back in November when City Council was deciding on whether or not to approve 11 new developments, they realized that they were missing a key element of the decision making process: would these new developments help or hurt Calgary in achieving the goals of the Climate Resilience Strategy? In order to find out, Council directed the Administration to study how to include climate considerations in how it evaluated new communities and report back. On Tuesday, March 16, that report will come to the Priorities and Finance Committee (PFC), and it could be Calgary's biggest step yet towards meeting our climate goals. 

Administration is proposing creating a carbon budget for Calgary.

Simply put, a carbon budget is a way of calculating Calgary's share of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the next 30 years if Canada is going to meet its targets for 2050 under the Paris Agreement.

According to City documents, "A carbon budget shows the impact of delaying reductions in emissions very clearly. This would allow Administration and Council to understand the “cost” of emissions associated with any project all the way through the project’s lifecycle. Projects that are approved would need to have their GHG emissions entered against the carbon budget to meet climate outcomes for the year 2100. In this way, The City could be informed of how land development would be impacting the carbon budget."

To read all of the documents yourself (and it's worthwhile), go to the Agenda and click on Item 7.2: Growth and Development Climate Framework, PFC2021-0121 to download them. 

In its submission to PFC, Administration explains that "Through a carbon budget, any project, strategy or initiative that will result in an increase in emissions, whether in the short or long-term, must be recognized as using up some of the remaining carbon budget. Both financial costs and emissions costs must also be accounted for."

Other cities that have adopted carbon budgets include Windsor, Edmonton, Toronto, and Manchester, UK

In order to do the work of creating a carbon budget, Administration is asking for a one-time budget increase of $700,000 to pay for in-house staff time and consultants. This is worth it. As the Hub said in our op-ed in October, "climate change is not a distant problem. It is a current catastrophe with real and immediate costs in terms of economic impact, lives lost, and environmental devastation. We are witnessing unprecedented, life-threatening destruction of natural and financial capital.

Take action by:

Writing to your City councillor, particularly if your councillor sits on the Priorities and Finance Committee. The committee is made up of: Mayor Nenshi and Councillors S. Chu, G-C. Carra, J. Davison, J. Gondek, W. Sutherland and E. Wooley. 

Please click on your councillor's email to begin sending an email.


Ward  Name Email
#1 Ward Sutherland  [email protected]
#2 Joe Magliocca [email protected]
#3 Jyoti Gondek [email protected]
#4 Sean Chu [email protected]
#5 George Chahal [email protected]
#6 Jeff Davison [email protected]
#7 Druh Farrell [email protected]
#8 Evan Woolley [email protected]
#9 Gian Carlo-Carra [email protected]
#10 Ray Jones [email protected]
#11 Jeromy Farkas [email protected]
#12 Shane Keating [email protected]
#13 Diane Colley-Urquhart [email protected]
#14 Peter Demong [email protected]
Mayor Naheed Nenshi [email protected]


Not sure who your local councillor is? Enter your address at this link and find your local representative.

It's best to write in your own words, but here's a sample letter:

Subject: Support for the Growth and Development Climate Framework

Dear Councillor _____,

My name is _____ and I am a constituent in Ward __. I am writing to ask you to support funding for Administration to develop a carbon budget for Calgary. Knowing the impact of any project on Calgary's GHG emissions will help Council to make better decisions, provide increased certainty for businesses, and help us meet the goals of The City's Climate Resilience Strategy. 

Thank you,


(Your name)

Joan Lawrence


Writer, interpretive planner, climate activist in Treaty 7 territory.