Success! Calgary will get a net-zero target!

On Monday, November 15, City Council voted 13-2 (Councillors Chu and McLean opposed) to declaring a Climate Emergency for Calgary. The Declaration included instructions to amend the Climate Resilience Strategy to include a net-zero target. 

The motion also included a mandate to join the global community of cities working on getting to net-zero and a requirement that The City engage with First Nations to ensure intersectional Climate Change strategies. 

Other aspects of the Declaration:

  • The City of Calgary will become part of the global community (not-for-profit, public and private sectors) taking action on climate change through international initiatives such as the Global Covenant of Mayors and Race to Zero, with a goal of becoming the global centre of excellence in energy transition by leveraging best practices and capital investment;
  • The City of Calgary makes changing climate a strategic priority by accelerating the timelines for climate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, updating the city-wide and corporate greenhouse gas reduction target to be net zero emissions by 2050 to help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius;
  • The City of Calgary will develop strategic business plans and budgets across all departments that invest in and accelerate high priority emissions reduction and climate risk reduction opportunities;
  • Council directs that The City begin to revise agreements with civic partners and subsidiaries to align with City of Calgary climate targets by committing to achieving net zero GHG emissions by 2050; and
  • The City of Calgary will advocate for funding from all orders of government for the purposes of accelerating immediate and near-term actions to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce climate risk to public infrastructure and build community resilience to climate change.

This is a major victory

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to the Election Campaign, which helped elect a council ready to take this step, and to everyone who participated in the COP26 "Time-is-shortbread" action in partnership with the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good. Your efforts paid off! 

See our message to Council here:

Of course, now the real work begins. What are the specific steps that Calgary will take? The first test will be the new Event Centre. Will the Planning Commission send it back to the drawing board to include a net-zero performance standard? See comments from our friends at Project Calgary here.

UPDATE: The Planning Commission approved the development permit for the Event Centre. In the process, Calgarians finally got some information about the environmental standards: the new building will be LEED Silver, have solar panels, and is anticipated to be net-zero by 2035. The discussion at Planning Commission highlighted the need for strong interim targets, as the design firm emphasized that this would be "Fifteen years ahead of schedule" to meet the target. In reality it means a building which hasn't even broken ground will operate for over a decade before it contributes to meeting the target. In the interim, it will be creating emissions which will have to be made up somewhere else if we are to make progress towards the goal. 

We will also be watching the mid-cycle budget adjustments starting on Monday, November 22, as well as the reading of the Clean Energy Improvement bylaw in December. Most importantly, we will be keeping an eye on opportunities to engage around the revisions to the Climate Resilience Strategy, set to come before Council in June of 2022. 

If you would like to help out, you can volunteer here

Joan Lawrence


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