Winnipeg laces up to get playing in the National Climate League!
During breaks in this warming-up period, we sat down with the Winnipeg Climate Hub to talk about their preparation, their expectations and the importance of obtaining data that matters to citizens. In Winnipeg Hub's words, discover why every Canadian city and town should take advantage of this League.
Why is important for The Winnipeg Hub to measure what matters to citizens?
You get only what you measure. For the Winnipeg Hub, this means helping city officials to understand that the public has interests in particular climate-related measures.
This can help those city administrators who are already in favour of serious climate action. That is, citizen engagement should provide these insiders with some leverage over other city administrators who may oppose action on climate change.
In this regard, citizen encouragement is especially important for the issue of implementation of climate plans. It is at the implementation stage that most plans stall – and where they did stall for past attempts by the City of Winnipeg.
It is important that the phrase "what matters to citizens" refers to a wide variety of citizens, not narrowly to a few engaged groups. This calls for "casting a wide net" when measuring what matters.
"Citizen encouragement is especially important for the issue of implementation of climate plans. It is at the implementation stage that most plans stall – and where they did stall for past attempts by the City of Winnipeg."
What potential does the NCL have to move the needle?
Overall, the NCL has the potential to be a help to cities in moving forward in the fight against climate change, regardless of a given city's context. The NCL has the potential to provide three critical elements to this fight, namely:
- being based on evidence and not just opinion,
- encouraging a large number of people – from city officials to concerned citizens – to be aware of and act upon this evidence, and
- allowing for multi-city comparisons, for both similarities and differences.
How is the team getting ready to participate in the League and what are its expectations?
In preparation, the Winnipeg Hub has been meeting with city officials and representatives of another organization, each of whom is engaged in collecting measures for Winnipeg that are similar to the NCL indicators. It appears that there is enough common ground and common interest to make the NCL data collection efforts worthwhile.
We have begun identifying various community groups and will shortly be contacting them. However, as the Winnipeg Hub is small and has had a late start, our initial expectation for this first season is to focus on a restricted task, namely, data collection per se.
In this regard, we will be asking the various community groups to mainly help in collecting as much usable data as possible. Of course, we will also be encouraging these groups and others to contact councillors and city officials.
Nevertheless, we expect to leave the major push on citizen engagement until the second season, during which we plan to also identify further groups and encourage all to become involved with elected officials and similar.
"We will be asking the various community groups to mainly help in collecting as much usable data as possible. Of course, we will also be encouraging these groups and others to contact councillors and city officials."
Why should other Hubs jump into the hockey rink along with you?
In spite of each Hub having its own unique situation, there are a number of good general reasons that we hope each will jump in, namely:
- The science is settled that human-induced climate change is real – and a serious and urgent issue,
- Cities are responsible for roughly 70% of both the world's energy consumption and its greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, cities also allow for the attainment of meaningful results when climate action plans are implemented.
- Many cities around the world continue to make good progress against climate change, often without the support of – or even in the face of hostile – higher-levels of government.
- Such focused action allows local citizens a decent chance of seeing their efforts lead directly to improvements.
Contemplating future iterations of the League, how do you think Winnipeg and its citizens can evolve together with the NCL?
Our optimistic best guess is that there will eventually be a substantial number of citizens who will continue to focus on the progress the city is (or is not) making on various measures – and will act accordingly to keep the city on track.
Overall, at the risk of being naive, we see a reasonably good chance that the city will be responsive and that progress will be made – without having to resort to a "call to arms" by citizens to fight reluctant officials.
We take this rather optimistic view because the city had made good progress, but then stalled, in previous attempts to meet the milestones of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities – Partners for Climate Protection. Lately, they have been reviving these efforts, and now have a new focused Office of Sustainability in place, with a community-level Winnipeg Climate Action Plan almost completed.