In response to the climate emergency, the City of Hamilton and SSG Technologies have created a draft plan for Hamilton to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. By focusing on 5 Low-Carbon Transformations, the City of Hamilton intends to embark on a journey to curb the impacts of climate change and reduce the impact on those most vulnerable. This pathway to net-zero will involve large-scale municipal, community and industry-wide efforts.
INNOVATING OUR INDUSTRY:
The steel industry currently contributes more than half of Hamilton’s emissions. Thus, supporting decarbonization and increasing the energy efficiency of Hamilton’s industrial processes will be critical to ensuring we reach net-zero by 2050. Appointing a net-zero industrial working group is a great way to hold industry leaders accountable while promoting collaboration and resource sharing. Supporting the creation of a cleantech accelerator to innovate new technologies for the steel industry will also be vital to Hamilton’s success.
Hamilton’s modeled net-zero pathway relies heavily on emerging low-carbon technologies in order for industry to meet efficiency targets, track progress and connect with other levels of government for resources and support.
TRANSFORMING OUR BUILDINGS:
As a community organization that has been conducting EnerGuide home energy evaluations for over 20 years and that has facilitated hundreds of retrofits for low-income households, we would like to highlight some of the strengths of the Draft Community Energy and Emissions Plan that relate to our buildings and home energy.
We believe a Home Energy Retrofit Delivery Center is crucial for the large-scale retrofits that are required to upgrade Hamilton’s existing building stock and to build local homeowner interest in net-zero and net-zero retrofits. We are excited to be involved in this design study and look forward to collaborating with the City, other stakeholders, and trades. This center must leverage the lessons learned from similar successful programs geared toward addressing the needs of our community. This includes low-income households, English-as-a-second-language speakers, trades people, and addressing other issues, including required trades capacity building, resources and funding mechanisms, equipment, and policy best practices.
CHANGING HOW WE MOVE:
Transportation is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Hamilton at 19%. Supporting a shift towards active transportation and decarbonizing existing transportation modes can help reduce the emission impact of this sector. Action items to be added to this plan are accelerated timeframes for Cycling Master Plan roll-out, concrete projects and pilots to increase transit use, and supporting active transportation equity with subsidized cycling and adaptive cycling options in Hamilton (as we highlighted during Bike Month). Let’s advocate for more equitable transportation in Hamilton and remove barriers for active and sustainable options.
The adoption of renewable energy projects will be a major key to meet our city’s climate goals. We are happy to hear that removing the regulatory barriers for the development of renewable energy projects is a priority. As more people gain access to renewable energy, we need to ensure government policies, regulations, incentives and resiliency measures continue to work in their favor. Although there are many technical challenges (land use, storage & costs), one of the biggest challenges will be adapting and upgrading the existing grid along with increases in power generation.
Urban canopy cover is shrinking while impermeable surfaces increase, leaving less green space in our city. In 2021, Hamilton City Council adopted the ‘no urban boundary expansion’ plan, meaning urban intensification needs to be closely monitored to prevent green space from reducing significantly in lieu of expansion. The growing green target actions are aligned with the draft Hamilton Urban Forestry Strategy and also set an ambitious goal for tree planting – a community-wide tree planting target of 50,000 trees each year to 2050. As the draft Hamilton Urban Forest Strategy has been under development since 2018, and still awaits council approval, it would seem any substantive implementation of accelerated tree planting and the draft plan recommendations are a long way off from the 2022 timeframe proposed in this plan. However, we are pleased to see establishing a robust database and tracking tools for all urban forest canopy cover in our city, identified as a priority resource needed. We echo the draft Urban Forest Strategy recommendations to support large privately-owned tree protection, and resources for the management and stewardship of existing trees and green space. This will be critical to support more carbon sequestration (the more mature a tree, the more carbon it can store).
Green Venture would also like to see an emphasis placed on supporting all green infrastructure and naturalization options, including rain gardens, naturalization, and bioswales, etc. Innovative and holistic tree planting and forest restoration approaches also need to be tested and applied. Mini forests or ‘miyawaki-inspired’ forest restoration can provide a solution to increase tree canopy cover and forest health in smaller spaces. Policies should also support protecting soil health, an important piece of improving carbon sequestration. All these action items should have equity considerations embedded in plans and activities, as green space is often abundant in higher income neighbourhoods and sparse in lower income neighbourhoods. Collaboration will be required to ensure tree planting benefits and greenspaces are accessible to everyone.
CALL TO ACTION
There are two ways you can contribute to Hamilton’s Climate Action Strategy: