City Hall Watch: Council Approves Establishing a Climate Advisory Committee
By Simon Savinel & Chelsea Lees
Establishing the committee will be another important step in the direction of effective climate governance in the city.
On March 29th, 2022, the City Council approved a proposal to create a Climate Advisory Committee for the City of Calgary. In 2018, the Calgary Climate Panel was assembled in alignment with the adoption of the Climate Resilience Strategy. This panel includes a diverse range of members coming from multiple backgrounds including environmental NGOs (such as the Calgary Climate Hub), trade associations, academia, local community groups, Indigenous groups, and the City itself. The purpose of the Calgary Climate Panel is to provide strategic advice and support the implementation of actions from the Climate Resilience Strategy.
In June 2021, as part of its report on the Climate Resilience Strategy, the panel identified two significant challenges to fulfilling their mandate: low frequency of formal meetings (once per quarter) and limited interactions with the City Council. The low frequency of meetings prevents the panel from monitoring the City’s action in a proactive manner, while limited interactions with the City Council complicates the panel’s access to information relevant to its mission and makes the communication of its recommendations to the Council less efficient. The creation of a committee would allow for more frequent meetings, formalize the advisory relationship, and make it directly accountable to Council, notably, by allowing members of the City Council to be part of it.
The City of Calgary already has several dozen boards, commissions and committees on topics such as urban planning, public libraries, and the green line. What they don’t have is a committee dedicated to the topic of climate change. Climate change committees are already a reality in several other Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto. These committees were essential to their cities in the early declaration of a climate emergency, and have rendered positive concrete influence. For example, Edmonton’s Energy Transition Climate Resilience Committee obtained the approval of a $24 billion plan to be implemented over the next 10 years with focus to reduce carbon emissions. A good portion of these funds will be directed towards retrofitting municipal buildings to make them carbon-neutral.
Effective climate governance and accountability are essential to enable the City of Calgary in reaching its carbon reduction target. The Climate Advisory Committee is a necessary part of the solution, and with Canada’s recently announced plan for carbon-neutrality by 2050, this is a great time to be part of the momentum.
The Climate Hub is hosting a Day of Action on April 21 to connect Calgarians with City Council to discuss recommendations for the Climate Strategy through organized meetings, with a pre-training session prior to the event & a reception following! RSVP here
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