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Local Climate Change Action Plan

In collaboration with their municipal and community partners, SSS has released the region's first Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP): Regional Greenhouse Gas Summary. The LCCAP includes both a corporate and community inventory of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with a baseline year of 2015, identifies GHG reduction targets to be meet by 2028, and recommends 18 actions to reduce municipal and community contributions to climate change.

Click here to be directed to the Local Climate Change Action Plan: Regional Greenhouse Gas Inventory, 2018.

People and Health

Public health can be affected by disruptions in climate. The health effects of these disruptions can include increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease, injuries and premature deaths related to extreme weather events, changes in the frequency and location of food- and water-borne illnesses, the spread of disease caused by insects, and potential threats to mental health through isolation or stress.

In a report released by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, climate change related variations to weather patterns, such as more intense and frequent extreme events, changes in water, air, food quality and quantity and infrastructure, will all have an impact on health. For example, although air quality has been improving across the province, climate change has the potential to increase levels of air pollutants which will increase risk of respiratory illnesses. In tandem, climate change may increase the pollen, molds and allergens in the air. And, not only would an increase in temperatures contribute to an increase in food-borne illnesses, impacts to food access can be expected, as climate change weather events (temperature, flooding, drought, and extreme storms) may interrupt local and global food production systems. Other climate impacts could include an increase in vector-borne diseases, such as West Nile Virus or tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease.

Changes to the climate will also impact water quality throughout the region through both increased potential for contamination by bacteria, as well as increases in algal blooms, including blue-green algae.


Considerations: How might climate change affect the health of our citizens in the short, medium and long-term? What are the cultural components of the area? What recreational activities are available? What draws tourists to the area and how might this be affected by climate change? Will community/social life be impacted by climate change? How can these impacts be mitigated?

Questions?

Ecological Assets and Water

The projected rise in global temperatures is expected to result in intensification of the water cycle, causing more severe dry seasons and wetter rainy seasons, along with the possibility of more frequent extreme weather events.According to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the main climate change consequences related to water resources are increases in temperature, shifts in precipitation patterns and snow cover, and a likely increase in the frequency of flooding and droughts.

Canada has, on average, become wetter during the last half century, with an average precipitation across the country increasing by approximately 13% (Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation, Government of Canada, 2014).

The effect of climate change on forests over different Canadian regions are expected to be multiple and complex, but rising greenhouse gas (GHG) levels, higher temperatures, changes in precipitation, flooding as well as drought duration and frequency will all have impacts on natural areas and how our trees and plants grow. Due to climate impacts, forests ecosystems and other natural areas may lose habitat or species, be more likely to be invaded by in invasive species, pests and disease outbreaks. Natural areas and spaces may also be more susceptible to fire, which could be more intense due to high winds and drought-like conditions.


Considerations: What natural assets are present in the area? How do these assets contribute to our quality of life? How might climate change affect our ecological assets and water? What can be done to protect and enhance these features? How can we enhance/leverage these features to help prepare for climate change?

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Economy and Employment

Action on climate change has the potential to create jobs. Resources and tools are becoming more available to help businesses and individuals become more energy-efficient and accelerate the shift to a low-carbon society. Weather can greatly affect tourism, and especially for the ‎beach, nature and winter ‎sport tourism segments. Changing climate and ‎weather patterns at tourist destinations and ‎tourist-orientated communities can significantly affect the tourists’ comfort and their travel ‎decisions. ‎Changing demand patterns and tourist flows will have an impact on businesses ‎and on host communities, as well as effects on ‎related sectors, such as agriculture, ‎restaurants and hospitality sectors, arts and culture, and construction.

Read more here on the impacts of climate change to the economy by the Bank of Canada.


Considerations: What industries are present in the area? Are they vulnerable to a changing climate? What responsibility does the business sector have to reduce the emission of GHGs? What new technologies should be considered? How should the business sector act on climate change?

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Transportation

More than one- third of Ontario’s greenhouse gas pollution is caused by the transportation sector, with cars and trucks contributing for more than 70 per cent of the total GHGs produced per the sector, with about 11 million passenger and commercial vehicles regularly travelling Ontario roads. (Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan, 2016).

Driving a car is the single most polluting thing that most Canadians do, as a typical car emits almost 5 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Anti-idling campaigns, transit initiatives, active transportation plans, electric vehicle incentives, carpooling, travel conservation policies and green fleet programs can all reduce the impact of travel and help to fight climate change.


Considerations: How do people and goods move around, into and out of the area? How does the existing transportation network contribute to climate change? Does our transportation infrastructure support multiple modes of transportation? What should our transportation network look like in 20, 40 and 60 years?

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Energy

Ontario’s municipal governments own more infrastructure than any other level of government, and local decisions about buildings, land-use and transportation have significant impacts on how people consume energy and emit GHGs (Municipal GHG Challenge Fund, Program Guide, 2017). Energy is central to economic and social activity, essential for the generation of industrial, commercial and community growth. It also provides personal comfort and allows for the movement of people and resources from place to place. But, energy production and consumption place significant pressure on the environment through the release of GHGs, air pollution, land use choices, and the creation of waste materials.


Considerations: How is energy used in our homes, businesses and institutions? What influences the amount of energy we use? How can we use less energy? How clean is our energy and where does it come from?

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Waste

Wastes are sources of GHGs, not only by the relation to production including transportation (pre- and post-consumer use), but also because of methane gas when disposed of in landfills. Methane recovery systems can be explored for use in municipal landfills, and programs which support composting, organics and blue/grey bin recycling, as well as personal and corporate waste minimization can reduce GHG emissions. Changes in what and how we buy, and a small shift in behaviour patterns can help in climate change mitigation.

Read more on biogas from the Canadian Biogas Association.


Considerations: Where do we generate the most waste? What does our waste collection program look like? Where does our waste go? What influences the amount of waste we generate? How can we generate less waste?

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Land Use Planning

Climate change is linked to key policy areas in all levels of government. Land-use decisions, such as compact, location-efficient communities and urban design features that support public order transit and active transportation, community energy planning, green infrastructure (low-impact development) and stormwater management techniques can all impact the amount of greenhouse gas(GHG) emissions, and how municipalities adapt to the weather-related (warmer and wetter) impacts of climate change. Development Plans, Secondary Plans and municipal Zoning By-Laws can are all tools to help prepare for a variety of anticipated climate change risks. The new Provincial Growth Plan, May, 2017, includes recommendations for climate change in relation land-use planning. Read more on the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017 here.

Considerations: What do our communities look like? What land use patterns characterize the area? What types of buildings do we live, work and play in? How should we accommodate growth?

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Agriculture and Local Food

Where our food comes from and how it is made plays an important role in reducing our environmental impact and mitigating climate change. The average meal travels 1,200 kilometres from the farm to your plate. Climate change will likely increase the cost of food, as more extreme weather and shortage of resources could put pressure on the industry. Local food security can be enhanced by supporting local producers and establishing a strong, local processing and distribution system. Responsible land stewardship will help to protect water quality and sensitive environmental areas while also mitigating climate change. Read more about the relationship between agriculture and climate change by visiting the website of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.


Consideration: What food is grown in the area? How might farming be impacted by climate change? What does consumption look like in the area? How will our food supply be impacted due to changes in weather locally and globally? How can we adapt?

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