Municipality of Clarington: Clarington Climate Action Plan


The Climate is changing. Many of the observed changes to the climate have been unprecedented when compared to the 1950s. For example, the average annual temperature in Canada has risen 1.5C between 1950 and 2010. Factors including the thermal inertia of oceans, natural feedback mechanisms (e.g., melting of permafrost resulting in the release of methane), and the long lifetimes of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will continue to warm the Earth’s climate throughout the 21st century even if very significant reductions to carbon dioxide (CO2) were made today.

The IPCC has concluded that “Each of the last three decades have been successively warmer at the Earth's surface than any preceding decade since 1850. In the northern hemisphere, 19832012 was likely the warmest 30 year period of the last 1400 years”. Further, the IPCC projects that the probability of more frequent hot days and nights is likely (66-100% certainty) in the early 21st century (2016-2035) and virtually certain (99-100% certainty) in the late 21st century (2081-2100). It also projects that an increase in frequency, intensity, and amount of heavy precipitation is likely in the early 21st century and very likely (90-100% certainty) in the late 21st century. The IPCC concluded in 2014 that climate change has already begun and that it is “severe, pervasive and irreversible”.

Climate science has confirmed that we are facing a future of changed climate. The greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted worldwide in the latter half of the 20th century are long-lived in the atmosphere and have “locked-in” a period of accelerating climate change until at least the middle of the 21st century. Essentially, the global thermostat has been set and locked for 2050; there is very little that society can do to alter these trends.

The Municipality of Clarington has recognized that is must act to adapt to and mitigate climate change. Therefore, council has directed staff to develop the Clarington Climate Action Plan. This plan will identify the risks and opportunities that climate change is presenting to Clarington and propose measures that the municipality should take to respond.

Many municipalities around the word have taken steps to develop plans to respond to climate change. Sustained implementation is a challenge with municipal climate action planning. Many municipalities are not following through on implementation. There are several reasons that this could be occurring: changing political priorities between governments, lack of public knowledge or interest; lack of dedicated funding to implement programming; inflexible bureaucratic barriers.

Project Description 

The Municipality Clarington is developing a Climate Action Plan. In order to be successful it must be implementable.  
Research is needed is understand more deeply the challenges that Municipalities face while implementing their climate action plans generally. As every Municipality is unique, more research is also needed to gain a more deep understanding of the challenges that Clarington will face when implementing its Climate Action Plan. 
Once the challenges to successful implementation are identified. A set of best practices are needed to inform the creation of an implementation strategy. The findings and best practices will be used by Clarington Staff to develop a Clarington Climate Change Action Plan Implementation Strategy.

Design Problem

Step 1) Research the challenges faced by municipalities who have reached the implementation phase of their Climate Action (adaptation or mitigation) Plans. 
Step 2) Research existent practices that have been used by municipalities to successfully implement Climate Change Action Plans. 
Step 4) Identify the greatest challenges and opportunities that Clarington may face while implementing it’ Climate Action Plan.  
Step 3) Develop a set of best practices that municipalities can follow to ensure long-terms success in implementing Climate Action Plans. This will include a suite of creative (unique) solutions to the most common challenges that municipalities face.  
The findings and best practices guidance document produced in this capstone course will be used by Clarington Staff to develop a Clarington Climate Change Action Plan Implementation Strategy.

Student Team

Julian Picard is a fourth-year student at the Rotman School of Management, pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce, Specialist in Finance and Economics with a minor in Environmental Economics. Julian is interested in learning about new ventures that seek to advance society, and has enjoyed getting that exposure through his student involvement with the Creative Destruction Lab Accelerator at Rotman. Julian is the President of the Rotman Commerce Finance Association, and is currently working with Specific Biologics, a biotechnology startup developing a new platform for gene editing.

Emily McCullough is a fourth-year student at Rotman School of Management, pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce, Specialist in Strategy and Marketing with a minor in Economics. Emily is interested in the concepts relating to city foundations and the cultural pieces attach to the conception of land. She placed second in the International KPMG Innovation and Collaboration Challenge tackling healthcare access for the transgender community, is the President of Ascend (University of Toronto), and was a participant of the Women in House program.

Neekoo Zand is a fourth-year student in the Department of Geography and Planning, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology as well as a double minor in Human Geography and Urban Studies. Neekoo sees Clarington’s Climate Action Plan as critical in contributing to Canada's ability to execute and deliver the 2030 climate target as a part of the global Paris agreement. She has outlined a participatory approach to the project that includes local residents, and looks towards long term solutions that benefit both the municipality and the community. In addition to having her exemplary climate-related infographic posted on the map and data library website, Neekoo has volunteered for UNICEF’s Youth Engagement Program, operated as the social media coordinator for the Urban Studies Student Union, and served as a BACP supervisor and counsellor for the City of Richmond Hill over the summer.

Mina Yip is a fourth-year student at John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies and Technology Stream Specialist. Mina has an excellent knowledge of design software and architectural principles, and she is interested in the use of technology to address environmental and functional issues within and outside of the architectural field.

Clarington Climate Action Plan: PDF iconMUCP_Clarington Climate Action Plan_Design Showcase Poster.pdf