ADAPTATION · CANADA
Federal government launches National Adaptation Strategy
The federal government has launched the National Adaptation Strategy (NAS) following a consultation process earlier this year. This updated policy and accompanying Canada Adaptation Action Plan now comprises 73 actions instead of the original 68, in addition to initiatives and investments related to freshwater supply. With this updated strategy, the federal government plans to work in tandem with provincial and local governments to reduce the deaths and impacts of climate-change-related disasters, such as wildfires of increasing severity. The government plans to update it again in 2030, and hope to have reached significant improvements by then, such as 80% of public and municipal organiza-tions to factor climate change in their decision making.
One of the plan’s primary aims is to help communities adapt to these more extreme weathers, such as the heat and smoke, and to decrease weather-related deaths. However, despite its insistence on helping communities, there has been some criticism that the solutions proposed may not be enough, especially for Canada’s low-income and disabled communities. For example, the short-term solution of cooling places proposed needs to be accessible.
Despite these flaws, this plan is a huge step for Canada’s response to climate change, and is the first step in creating the national changes we need to help climate mitigation and adaptation.
MUNICIPAL POLITICS · TORONTO
Olivia Chow elected Mayor of Toronto— what does this mean for the climate?
On the 26th of June, Toronto held a by-election for the office of mayor. The winner was Olivia Chow, making her the third woman and the first racialized person to hold the office of mayor in Canada’s most populous city. She is also the first progressive mayor in nearly 10 years, since David Miller was elected in 2010. Campaigning from the left, with hope and change as her primary motif, she received 37.2% of the total votes, pulling just ahead of Ana Bailão, the former deputy mayor, whose campaign was endorsed by the outgoing mayor. Olivia Chow’s political platform centred on creating more affordable housing, increasing homeless shelters, increasing the transit budget and freezing fares, and an increase in vacant and luxury houses tax. Her election signals a desire for change and better conditions that is hopeful for the future. Some people have worried that Chow will not push for enough change, and that the policies she proposes to enact may not have the impact needed to effectively fight climate change.
Despite this, having a mayor who is highly invested in climate and social justice issues is a much-needed step in the right direction. However, the election results were close — 37.2% for Chow and 32.5% for Bailão —, demonstrating the importance of continuing to vote and participate in the electoral process at all levels of government. Despite historically low voter turn-out rates in municipal elections, local governments play a crucial role in increasing the quality of life and fighting against climate change. Olivia Chow succeeds in her aims, her mandate can be a demonstration of the importance of voting in local elections and the potential for local councils to create more healthy, sustainable and resilient cities.
RENEWABLE ENERGY · MALAHAT
Solar pilot project a big step towards energy sovereignty
The Malahat First Nation has partnered with Shift Clean Energy (Shift) and Solar Earth Technologies Ltd (Solar Earth) to work on solar powered buildings. The pilot project focuses on the Malahat’s administrative buildings, some of which were outfitted with solar panels in February 2020. This project would expand on these, and use Shift’s solar energy storage techniques that are currently applied at sea on land. This would allow the buildings to store the energy gained from the solar panels, so that it can be used at times when they would generate less electricity, such as at night or on cloudy days. The prediction for this project is that the administrative buildings would be able to function at almost full capacity off-grid, which would be a big step towards energy independence for the First Nation. This project is the first in Canada to use marine solar storage on land, and the first to use Solar Earth’s technologies in the climate of the Malahat region, in the north. The project is funded by BC’s Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative. If successful, this project means a lot to indigenous self-governance and self-reliance, as well as reducing fossil fuel emissions, as the community is currently mostly fueled by diesel.