The National Climate League is an annual initiative that tracks the performance of municipalities on 26 climate and sustainability indicators—from green space, to housing affordability, to renewable energy, to transit ridership. Every year we publish our results in the National Climate League Standings, comparing how municipalities across Canada measure up, as well as sharing key policies and practices from leading cities.
NCL data is collected by volunteers across the country, who consult open data sources,municipal reports and open data portals, as well as contacting municipalities directly. You want to know what the volounteers have to say about the National Climate League? Find out through the interviews of Eve Layman from Kelowna (BC), Claire Buchanan from Orillia (ON), Adam Johnston from Winnipeg (MB) and Pam Nicholas from Colwood (BC).
How did you find out about the National Climate League? What drew you to volunteer?
Eve: I discovered the NCL when doing research on organisations that are active in Climate advocacy in the Okanagan as part of my role as Destination Development and Stewardship Specialist at the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association. I felt that the report was an excellent tool to engage municipalities around successful actions that cities can take to impact climate change. It really helped that Kelowna had won the "Bike Lanes" category and gave me a positive point to use when reaching out to Kelowna's Sustainability Coordinator and City Councillors.
Claire: I learned about the National Climate League through my work at Sustainable Orillia. I volunteered to learn about the process of data collection on a local scale and to ascertain a better understanding of where Orillia, Ontario is in comparison to other similar cities across the country.
Adam: I have been a Climate Reality Leader since 2015, and was looking for a new opportunity to re engage with the Climate Reality Project. I found out about the national Climate League through its prior editions and media attention it’s gotten for its community oriented report which engages Canadian cities to take climate action. As well, I was also looking to gain hands-on experience in helping out with a major climate report, and thought the National Climate league was a perfect fit.
Pam: I found out about the National Climate League throughThe Climate Reality Project. I am an introvert and an educator who wants to help fight the climate crisis we are all now in. Conducting research for the National Climate League is one way I know that I can be of service that utilizes my skills and fits in well with my comfort levels.
Can you briefly describe what participating in the NCL looked like for you?
Eve: Myself and our summer intern Maha Ejaz volunteered to collect data for our region and to reach out to Municipalities by email and phone. I was successful in connecting with those municipalities that I had a relationship with. Through this outreach we also discovered that another organisation (the Community Energy Association) was working on a dashboard to collect similar data for all Municipalities in BC.
Claire: I participated in both the data collection and writing aspect of the NCL report. I looked at the community that I currently live in, so Orillia, Ontario. I had the opportunity to work with staff from the City of Orillia both through email correspondence and the odd meeting! In terms of writing, I further researched two indicators, "Bike Lanes" and "Water Consumption".
Adam: I was involved in data collection of data for Calgary, assisting in writing the Public Transportation indicator, and writing the Winnipeg Community profile (which is my home city).
Pam: Participating in the NCL's data collection was easy. I simply set aside some time during the week to do some internet research. NCL provided many of the links I needed to simply look up a community's data.
What was your favourite part about participating?
Eve: Seeing our data spreadsheet fill up with responses to contribute to the report!
Claire: Working with another organization! I enjoyed working alongside the other individuals who also volunteered. We all brought our own experiences and research techniques to the table.
Adam: My favourite thing about participating was the hands-on experience in this project including writing about public transportation. I really learned a lot about data collection, and the importance of getting the most accurate data available to ensure the report provides accurate information, so Canadians have the appropriate information necessary to take climate action.
Pam: My favourite part about participating is getting to work with others who care and finding out climate related information about communities all over Canada.
What were one or two of the most interesting and/or useful takeaways you drew?
Eve: Relationships with your municipal staff are important to contribute to projects like this one.
Claire: What I found fascinating was the citizen-based research aspect of this whole report. It was neat to see the 57 cities participate and how the actions of a group of volunteers can contribute so much information to a community-based report. It just goes to show that a small group of people can make a difference!
Adam: Two useful takeaways I got from the National Climate League was how well Winnipeg did in renewable energy, and urban agriculture. Despite lagging in other indicators like walkability, the importance of leading in renewable energy and placing high in urban agriculture provides hope my city council can move towards its other climate goals. The other key takeaway from the report was the importance public transit plays in a city’s transportation system. Approximately 50% of all of Winnipeg's carbon emissions comes from transportation. A fully functioning public transit system can dramatically help reduce our transportation emissions.
Pam: It was interesting for me to discover more about my community's planning to deal with the climate crisis.
Would you recommend participating in the NCL and if so, why?
Eve: Absolutely, this is a great tool to highlight climate change indicators that municipalities can affect that also resonate with community members. As this report gets media attention, the awareness of what cities can do is more at the forefront of people's minds when opportunities to engage with your city come up.
Claire: Yes, I would recommend participating in the NCL. There were times that you hit some road blocks due to the potential lack of data for your community, but after overcoming those roadblocks or finding an alternate way to go about it, the sense of pride and fulfillment of seeing all the data come together was absolutely worth the trouble!
Adam: I would strongly recommend participating in the NCL, as it provides great hands-on experience to engage with Canadians to ensure our cities are taking the necessary steps to take climate action for future generations.
Pam: I would recommend participating in the NCL because it is an easy way to help make a difference.