Canadian cities ranked on climate and well-being
The Climate Reality Project Canada’s National Climate League releases its inaugural standings today, involving hundreds of Canadians in tracking the progress of 23 municipalities on climate action and well-being.
For Immediate Release
Montreal, December 11, 2018 – While international attention is focused on climate negotiations at COP24 in Poland, a first-of-its-kind crowdsourced ranking of climate action and quality of life is published today by The Climate Reality Project Canada. Since August, the maple leaf chapter of Al Gore’s environmental charity, in collaboration with iMatter Youth, The Climate Stories Project and Sierra Club Québec, has rallied its volunteer base to take part in this uniquely participatory process.
“It’s time we go beyond superficial citizen engagement on this issue” claims Kelly Quintero, Project Coordinator for the League. “By leveraging the collective intelligence of our Climate Leaders, the National Climate League is a game changer, making data accessible while equipping Canadians to wield it with confidence in their communities.”
Members called on their city councillors and municipal staff to submit thirty indicators to an open database, marking a departure from the way such research is typically conducted. As for the indicators, over fifty subject matter experts had a hand in their development.
“You’re never as proud of something as when you’ve built it yourself,” adds Audrey Dépault, National Manager of Climate Reality Canada and municipal councillor in Terrasse-Vaudreuil. “With the National Climate League, we’re modelling what every municipality across the country needs to do when developing their climate plans: invite meaningful public participation from day one and keep citizens engaged all the way through to its implementation.”
Vancouver and Victoria – cities that have committed to drawing 100% of all energy from renewable sources by 2050 – fared very well in the standings, and were followed closely by Saskatoon, Edmonton and Nelson, British Colombia, the smallest municipality in the League of twenty-three participating municipalities. When Vancouver consulted its residents on the development of its Renewable City Strategy, 5% of its population took part. If cities want buy-in to their plans, they’re best to involve the public early and often.
Regina and Montreal have recently stepped up to join the ranks of Vancouver and Victoria by committing to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Cities are home to 82% of Canada’s population, so phasing out their dependence on fossil fuels has significant impacts on national emissions and the national narrative.
“The crowdsourcing approach is unorthodox, but it has been proven that deep citizen engagement improves outcomes significantly when it comes to getting plans off the drawing board and into real life” says Karel Mayrand, Director for Québec and Eastern Canada of the David Suzuki Foundation and Chairman of Climate Reality Canada’s board. “As charities with limited resources, crowdsourcing allows us to do considerably more while empowering our members to take on new roles of leadership.”
The League’s objective is not to name one overall winner, but to identify and learn from leaders in each of the indicator areas. Cities are ranked within population cohorts, revealing the leading municipality in each indicator and a description of action taken to achieve that success.
Victoria leads on green buildings per capita, while Winnipeg residents breathe the cleanest air and Toronto sends the lowest amount of waste per capita to landfill and incineration. In Vancouver, pedestrians and cyclists are safer than in any other municipality in the League, and residents can access more services and amenities within walking distance than anywhere else in Canada; also, it is Vancouver who hosts the biggest number of certified B- Corporations.
When talking about transportation, it is in Montreal where people can enjoy more kilometres of bike lanes and paths, in relation to road kilometres, and where public transport is used the most, among all cities participating in the NCL; and if shifting to electric vehicles, it is Kingston who offers the largest number of EV charging stations per 100,000 residents. In terms of transparency, which means disclosing the most valuable data while responding to citizens’ requests for the NCL, it is Vancouver, Ottawa, Nelson and Saskatoon who win the prize.
The National Climate League Open Database at NCL-LNC.ca offers a deeper dive into the data, allowing users to explore leading cities, the correlations between NCL indicators, and data submissions from eighteen additional cities not reported on in the 2018 Standings.
“While our national emissions continue to climb, there are municipalities in this country that are reducing their emissions at twice the speed of our Paris targets – there are terrific stories of success that aren’t being told” claims Matthew Chapman, National Campaign Coordinator for The Climate Reality Project Canada. “In cities where these transitions are taking place, citizens love it. When cities are supported by provinces and Ottawa to provide sustainable alternatives that work for people and the climate, we’ve seen resounding success.”
About The Climate Reality Project Canada
The organization is the Canadian branch of the Climate Reality Project, the non-profit dedicated to mobilizing action around the issue of climate change and founded by former US Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore, who has trained over 17,000 Climate Reality Leaders around the world, whose role is to promote education and action with regards to the climate crisis.
For media inquiries in English or French:
Matthew Chapman, National Campaign Coordinator, Climate Reality Project Canada