Post COP26: What’s next for cities?

We invited leaders from across the globe to discuss the key takeaways from the COP26 summit and what actions Canadian cities must take to ensure a sustainable, climate friendly future.

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. Clean energy and capacity building

According to Freddie Huppé Campbell of Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE), COP26 was the first time that the reduction of coal and fossil fuels was seriously brought to the table. It is not enough to just phase out coal and other fossil fuels slowly, we need to eliminate it in the next four years globally. This process needs to be done inclusive of capacity building strategies to help communities make these transitions. A collective approach, which is engrained in Indigenous practices, requires meaningfully engaging all members of a community and giving them decision-making power. In the past six years, ICE has worked to develop Indigenous led renewable energy projects, with at least 25% equity owned by Indigenous Communities. Breaking down barriers, providing education and giving power to Indigenous Communities enabled funding mechanisms and policies to shift, creating government programs that are tailored to Indigenous needs and desires. This process can be translated to urban areas by determining what residents want and how those desires can be supported.

2. A lot of people are talking about climate change but there needs to be more action

Francis Fong, the Managing Director at TD Economics noted that what was different about COP26 was the sense of urgency that people are approaching climate change these days, particularly due to the increase in extreme weather events. Francis said that “COP26 is happening against this backdrop of this being our last chance to make serious commitments to take the action needed to implement system wide changes”. Cities cannot act alone, connections with financers must be made available to people to create the necessary change. Cities have much of the population and therefore have the highest demand for energy and greenhouse gas emissions, and thus many opportunities to take action. Francis is optimistic about the evolution of the role of finance in fighting climate change, particularly over the last 12 months, and said, “if we’re able to make these commitments now, then we’ll at least have a fighting shot of reaching some kind of reasonable target by 2030”.

3. The role of intermediation in climate action 

COP26 set the framework for climate targets, however it is not legally binding and therefore according to Julia Langer, CEO of The Atmospheric Fund, to increase action and provide support, we need to build our intermediation capacity to work towards the targets in the framework. One takeaway that came out of COP26 was that there is so much capital out there just looking for impact and supporting the role of intermediation can help connect projects to this capital. There is a lot of successes in cities, and while it may be disaggregated and not at scale, there is an opportunity to use intermediation to scale up and coordinate our approach to climate action in cities. Julia highlighted the importance of targets but noted that we need to be explicit and operationalize to keep us inspired and focused on our approach to climate action.

4. A move to short-term actions

When asked what worked from COP26 Agathe Cavicchioli noted “What worked is we are seeing a real shift in focus away from net zero by 2050 commitments…it doesn’t mean anything to commit to doing something in 2050”. Moving towards short-term actions and shifting away from long-term strategies that a lot of laggard climate countries are currently taking is crucial for seeing climate action take place in countries. Cities need to implement short term actions that have high impact and ensure accountability for staying on track for meeting long-term climate targets, rather than these vague 2050 commitments that don’t entail any major actions, policies or reforms that may never yield any results against these objectives from COP26. The shift to talking about 2030 has been crucial and this is where the NDC’s are important, as these are the actions that countries will take to help them achieve the long-term goals of the Paris agreement.

5. The role of the city moving forward with COP26 objectives

The outcome of COP26, the Glasgow Climate Pact calls for greater action and financing of adaptation, but how does it involve cities? It does not specifically include the word cities but has references to cities and other stakeholders termed “non-party stakeholders” in the pact. Additionally, the pact calls for multilevel and collaborative action, acknowledging action cannot happen at the single level of national governments. Cities need to recognize that they have power to create real change, according to Agathe “there’s power in leadership and there’s power in vision and there’s a lot of power in bringing together your residents and your local community groups, including the most vulnerable, the systematically marginalized ones to deliver collectively, truly gender inclusive and truly inclusive policies.” We cannot get distracted from the mitigation component, cities have the tools, resources, influence, and innovation to move the dial on climate action. Cities should break down the problem and find the key players for solutions and implement what is needed, or advocate for it at the provincial and federal level.


Full Panel

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to with “transcription” in the subject line.

Mary Rowe [00:00:48] Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute, really pleased to be welcoming you here today. You know, we have been running these sessions since the first month of COVID and we used to always start our sessions acknowledging that there were people on the front lines that were keeping Canadians safe and coping with the ravages of COVID. And then over time, that preamble has changed somewhat that I feel like here we are today to talk about the impact of COP26 and what’s next for cities. And we are talking at a time when hundreds of hundreds and thousands of Canadians at the moment on the west side of this country are being besieged by what I’m assuming new folks are going to confirm is the impact of climate change. And so once again, I just want to acknowledge that we have first responders around the country. We have families, we have farmers, we have every kind of person that’s been affected by these extraordinary weather conditions. And here we are once again gathered around the television and the radio looking at what’s happening to our neighbors to the West. And it’s been a hell of a year over there and we appreciate people who were coming in on to the session today who are actually present in that region and are going to be able to talk to us firsthand. It’s not. This is not an abstract conversation anymore, and I know a lot of you are going to tell me it hasn’t been for some time, but boy, oh boy, oh boy, this week, for sure. So I happened to be in Toronto. As you can see, the backdrop behind me is actually real. That’s the Canadian Urban Institute offices here on a dreary day at Queen and University in Toronto, which is the traditional territory of many First Nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Chippewa, the the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples home to many First Nations, Inuit, and Metis, covered by Treaty 13 in the Williams treaties. And we are here at CUI very cognizant of the legacies of exclusion and the ways in which colonial practice and furthering urban practice has has reinforced systemic racism and exclusion and all sorts of challenges that are built into the way that we have actually created our cities. And similarly, we’re going to talk today, I think, about the way we’ve built our cities to actually exacerbate climate challenges and what are we going to do about that? So I’m appreciative that we have fabulous panelists coming in here today to talk to us about their reflections from from COP, what they think the next steps would be. We always use these three framing questions: what’s working, what’s not and what’s next. Just remember folks that we record these sessions and appreciate people being as candid as they wish and and give us give it to a straight. As we say, we want to hear what you really think. And we encourage people to participate in the chat, ask questions in the chat, and always good if you could identify where you are. So I see some of you already doing that. It’s always good for us to see the perspectives that are coming in from different parts of the country and also outside of Canada, which we’re very appreciative of. So. And also, do you remember anything that goes in the chat stays in the chat because we publish the chat and we publish key findings and we record this conversation for posterity. So it’s a, it’s a momentous moment. I see I’ve reduced Francis to tears and we’ve just gotten started. I might start with you, actually, Francis. We’re appreciative of TD’s support of these sessions and of City Talk and particularly as we move more into talking to Americans because because so many of these issues are not confined to geography. And so we appreciate having TD supporting us in this. And so maybe I’ll start with you if you can give a perspective in terms of what do you think is next for cities post COP? And what do you think the priorities should be and then each of you or just I’m going to ask each of you to just give us a bit of an overview of what you think. And then then we start with the sort of combined conversation. So welcome everybody and over to you first, Francis, and maybe also tell us where you’re where you’re tuning in from, that would be great to start so Francis from TD.

Francis Fong [00:04:35] Sure. Thanks, Mary. So I’m just like you. I’m I’m dialing in from Toronto. I’m sharing your your dreary day here. So just to give some perspective on on COP itself, I think kind of like what was different about this one was really, I think, the sense of urgency that we’re all approaching climate change these days. Mary, you you kind of referenced what’s happening in B.C. right now, but the reality is that all of the world, you know, more and more extreme weather events are happening on a more frequent basis. And it’s really bringing, I think, the impacts of climate change to the fore. And really, I think COP26 is happening against this backdrop of like this is really our kind of last chance to kind of, you know, make the serious commitment to take the serious action needed to implement system wide changes. Because really, you know, according to the IPCC, we need to be able to reduce emissions by upwards of half if we’re still going to stay on track to one and a half degrees above pre-industrial levels. And you know, if we kind of take like the adoption of the smartphone, for example, first iPhone came out in 2007, by 2017 smartphones are more ubiquitous than indoor plumbing. So really, I think this is kind of the idea that if we’re able to make these commitments now, then we’ll at least have a fighting shot of reaching some kind of reasonable target by 2030, so I think that’s kind of the key thing here.  Coming out of that, I think a lot of us were perhaps a little disappointed with some of the commitments that actually were made. Like we did see some serious action around methane, around coal usage, deforestation, land use change and and issues around that. But perhaps, maybe not as stringent as we would like, but I think we also need to take COP or the commitments made at COP against the backdrop of what is happening more broadly, around commitments that governments are making at every single level, commitments towards, you know, moving towards clean energy in the electricity sector, to decarbonizing transportation, building, so and so forth. There are serious commitments, particularly in a Canadian context. And if we if we look at it in that broader context then I think there is something to be more optimistic about. Now, what’s next for cities and this is the real challenge here is that there’s often this criticism that there’s too many people like me, too many people talking about climate change and things like that and not not enough people acting on climate change because the onus is really on cities, where the large majority of people live, to actually take action and actually implement some of these system wide changes. According to IRENA, 65 percent of global energy demand comes from urban centers and 70 percent of energy related carbon carbon emissions also from urban centers. So there’s there’s, you know, a lot of opportunity here to start taking real action. And so, you know, before we get into too many details, that’s everything from transportation to buildings to energy production, waste management and things of that nature. So I think that’s really what we’re talking about here is now that we’ve made those commitments, how are we going to actually implement these things? How are we going to take serious action?

Mary Rowe [00:07:35] It’s always the question is how are we going to get to real? And I’m interested your point. I often just shorthand this and just say that that the reason that cities are an important intervention point is because they generate half of the half of the emissions from transportation and half of them from buildings. And that’s where the concentration of buildings is right. So I appreciate you putting that context on. Freddie, can we go to you next just to give us your perspective on, you can just you can build on what Francis just said or you can take some new points in terms of what’s working and what you thinks is next.

Freddie Huppe Campbell [00:08:07] Thank you so much. I’m calling in today from the traditional unceded unsurrendered territories of the Algonquin Nation on Turtle Island, also known as Ottawa, Canada. I also just want to say that I’m so grateful for the past and present land defenders who I continue to learn from in hopes to make more sustainable and meaningful change. COP26, I will preface this with, this is Indigenous Clean Energy’s first time attending COP26. It was my personal first time attending COP26 and comparatively throughout this was the first time that the reduction of coal and fossil fuels was really brought to the table more seriously. That being said, I don’t think it was a big enough commitment, as many of us will probably agree on this call. But it was in the conversation. And again, as we all know, there’s nothing legally binding about decisions that are made at COP. In negotiations, it’s about how governments take that forward, how civil society and citizens put pressure on governments to really enact action such as Francis said on those changes. So I think that we’re in a really crucial time where the conversation and the information is all there. It’s all laid out. There have been scientists working in these areas for decades. There have been grassroot organizations, there’s been Indigenous knowledge being shared about the destructions of Mother Earth for centuries. So it’s time to really take that meaningful action. And I think in the areas of coal and not just phasing out coal, but truly within the next four years at least, completely getting rid of of coal, fossil fuels also. The word is phase out, but there has to be serious commitments to that and at the same time, inclusive of capacity building strategies and really helping and supporting communities to make those transitions. Because then you’re not going forward in a way that is inclusive of all. I’ll also say that it was very neat to see protests on the street every single day. At conference of the parties, there were communities coming together from all over the world. There was youth really driving for more action, and that was really neat to see. I think that’s probably the most activism that was present at a COP ever. So, I think that there is so much pressure and yeah when it comes to all of the pieces that were encompassed by what countries have said, it’s so important that that is led by communities. And I think that that was in the conversation, but that could also be integrated into policies and systems.

Mary Rowe [00:10:46] Thanks, Freddie. You know, we have a big focus here on streets and at CUI, we have lots of work on bringing back main streets, the future of main streets, so to have people in the street and to remind people that streets are actually for people and that they are part of the civic infrastructure. We appreciate what you’re suggesting. And for those of us who were at home watching it on television, I agree it was very moving to see that level of engagement and just physical engagement. And thank goodness. I know there’s all sorts of speculation or controversy about the carbon that’s actually generated by having a COP, but I was pleased that it was in a city, that it wasn’t in some rural remote place. It was actually grounded in a city, saying this is the real conversation. Agathe, could we go to you next, please? And with that bucolic background to you, I don’t know what’s in your background there. I’m going to tease Julia about her background, so she’s got preserving like me. But I don’t know what the background is behind you there. I don’t know, where, where are you coming in from?

Agathe Cavicchioli [00:11:40] Well, unlike what my background might suggest, I think it’s Sydney. I’m not sure, I’m actually calling and joining you all today from London where the skies do not look like this, and certainly not at this time of day. It’s pitch black outside.

Mary Rowe [00:11:57] And we should just identify your calling in from London, UK, not my hometown of London, Ontario, but London, UK. Right?

Agathe Cavicchioli [00:12:05] London, UK.

Mary Rowe [00:12:05] Well, we’re appreciate, we’re appreciative to have you. We know we’re keeping you from your supper, so thank you for joining us. And over to you.

Agathe Cavicchioli [00:12:12] No worries. No worries. Yes, indeed. I’m calling from across the pond. It’s a pleasure to join you all today. So my name is again, Agathe Cavicchioli, I’m the head of advocacy for the C40 Cities Network, which some of you may be familiar with, is a large network of nearly a hundred cities committed to delivering ambitious climate action in line with the Paris Agreement. I was also seconded this year into what’s called the High-Level Climate Champions Team of COP26 and what the High-Level Climate Champion does is that, it’s a Paris Agreement, it’s a position created by the Paris Agreement with the sole purpose of galvanizing, bringing together, and supporting those who aren’t negotiating parties of the of the COP, but are instrumental and critical to the implementation of the Paris Agreement so thats cities, regions, businesses and so on. So with that dual sort of perspective on on the COP26, twenty six, I think a lot of, I think what worked is twofold. And I’m really glad Francis also raised the the importance of moving from commitment actions. Because firstly, I will say that we’re seeing a real shift in focus away from net zero by 2050 commitments. I think a lot of you will have heard or seen the memes going around the internet. It doesn’t doesn’t mean anything to commit to doing something in 2050. I’ll stop drinking in 2050; isn’t going to solve anything tomorrow. So I think there was a real and if you haven’t seen it, you should look it up. It’s a satirical take on on the climate negotiations, and it’s and it’s true that we we’re seeing a real shift in focus from not so much these long term strategies that a lot of laggard climate countries are taking, but so long as it doesn’t entail any major actions, policies, reforms tomorrow, they may never yield any results again against these objectives. So we’ve seen a real shift to talking about 2030, and that’s where the NDCs become really important. And it’s where I think cities and particularly the C40 Network have been really instrumental in showing what’s possible in the next decade in terms of shorter term but high impact actions in some of the sectors again. France has set us up perfectly for transport, buildings, waste, and also consumption. So that was that was really positive to see, it translated as well I think to an extent in the media coverage and the conversations around COP. We came, we worked with the champions team to bring together a coalition of a thousand cities committed obviously to net zero by 2050, but most importantly, to halving their emissions by 2030. And so we’ve got over 1000 cities ready to do this, and that really has shown at this COP that there are some doers despite some delayers. And the other way that this is translated. So for me, the other really positive thing is it’s shown in the text, it is shown in the agreements of the text. It really is going much further forward in acknowledging the contributions of cities and their future roles. So I’ll be happy to explore further in the conversation what this what this all means, but I really think there’s a real shift in relationships in the relation and contribution cities can can have with, as critical implementers of the Paris Agreement.

Mary Rowe [00:16:10] Thanks Agathe. You know, there’s always levels of cynicism about these international gatherings and whether or not they actually result in anything. So I’m going to go to Julia as the final speaker whose who has seen a few of these and but also just to say that normally, not normally, but through through COVID, when I haven’t been in the office, I’ve been at my home and many of you know that behind me, I have a stash of the preserves I’ve done. So, Julia, I’m very encouraged to see that you are also a canner or a preserver because I can see your jars behind you. And I think we’re going to benefit now from some perspective you can bring having been active in this discourse for so long and internationally engaged. And also, can you, Julia, when you start, can you clarify for people what NDCs are because people are asking in the chat. Ready to put a link up.

Julia Langer [00:16:54] Well, this is a tiny little selection of my can and you got to come over and check. We can compare pantries.

Mary Rowe [00:16:59] We can do a trade. I can imagine it’s a tiny selection, but we can do a trade.

Julia Langer [00:17:03] That’s good. So thanks for this, organizing this. I I did not go to COP this year and in fact, I’m I’ve said to many people, I joined the Atmospheric Fund in 2009, having worked at World Wildlife Fund for 17 years and before that with another organization and attended many COPs, including the Montreal Protocol, persistent organic pollutants, the climate treaties. And I said one of the perks of my new job was not having to go to COP again.

Mary Rowe [00:17:35] And that was in the deal. I’m never going, I am never going to another one

Julia Langer [00:17:41] Because, and and not not to say that it doesn’t have to happen. And I really appreciate and especially the role of nonprofit organizations because they are the glue that makes the COPs work because it is such a stultified environment and with all the formal protocols and the delegations, etc., and the nonprofit organizations play this important role of translating kind of going back and forth and helping formulate. And so thank you to all the organizations that, you know that do engage and put forward the solutions because otherwise we wouldn’t have had, you know, the kind of attention to and even the words about fossil fuels and coal and bringing the role of cities to the fore and how it’s key to translate these very high level targets into actual on the ground implementation. And that’s something that we can’t expect from a COP and from a national treaty, but that is essential for it to be relevant and meaningful. And I think that that link has been missing and we’re really making it more and more obvious and clear. And because cities are coming to all of these forums with: here’s how we can do it. And and you know Agathe here. You know, this is the exact framing we have to have everything in one hundred months. Think about it, one hundred months, and and and what we’ve done and look at the Greater Toronto Hamilton area and Toronto in particular, where we’ve we’ve met our 2020 targets so, you know, that that 20 percent reduction. But that was since 1990. Right. So and now all the hard stuff. Right. And it’s one hundred months. So I think it really crystallizes what we have to do because in Canada, we’re 50 percent of the emission profile. So we’ve got the oil and gas sector. We’ve got other sectors and and and cities are, you know, a good half of where the emissions come from. So that is a big responsibility. And cities are not formally represented at COP, doesn’t really matter in that sense because. But but when we when we welcome the delegations home and this is that this is the sort of blog that that we wrote about about COP is like: welcome home delegation, now let’s get to work here on the actual implementation activities. And we can get into into more of that, how that translates. But these are the kinds of things that we’ve all been saying forever and forever and forever. And we we are winning some battles like there are there are some success stories in cities like the, you know, the the investment, the policies, the actual implementation. But emissions are still going up, so we look, we do the inventory for the Greater Toronto Hamilton area. It’s kind of flat, a little bit up since 2015, when it needs to be going down at seven percent per year. You know, think of, it’s just math, right? You need to make that trajectory. And so I think that’s the that’s rather than the, you know, the big targets COP set the vision and and, you know, really show where we need to go. We need to translate that down into our own sectors, you know, sector by sector, emission by, emission source by emission source. And and that that is that really hits the ground in cities and to your very opening point, Mary. I mean, what a what a huge impact that we’re seeing from climate change on the ground in cities. This is not new, but what is headline news today and and it was in August with the heat dome in B.C. I mean, poor B.C. is but you know this. I think we can’t get distracted from the mitigation requirement. And I’m I am concerned, you know, obviously adaptation and and response is key, but we can’t get distracted from the mitigation as well. And so we just need to resolve that and resolve that hard because a tent mindspace is going to be occupied elsewhere budgets. I mean, look at the cost of addressing some of these disasters. And Francis, I’m interested in your perspective on that, but we really need to keep the keep the focus on mitigation as well.

Mary Rowe [00:22:30] Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to try to keep all these things and get all these things open at the same time because the people tend to think, well, it’s either this or it’s that. And I remember this from years ago in my work in the US, where there were some foundations that were not prepared to even have a conversation about mitigation. No, no, no, no, no. That that was not. And now we have to talk, as you say about both. Agathe, can I go back to you for a sec on the actual agreements because it sounds as if you’ve poured your eyes to actually look at what came out of it? I saw a flurry of emails just before the final documents were completed, where there was a bit of a panic that cities weren’t in, that municipalities weren’t being acknowledged. And so have we made any progress on that in terms of getting national governments and international entities to recognize that municipal governments are a equal partner or a legitimate party?

Agathe Cavicchioli [00:23:24] Yeah, thanks so much for asking. So sorry, I’m in an office space and the people are interacting with me. I’m so glad you would ask. There was indeed some back and forth and well, everything in the COP negotiating process you have to take with a little bit of a grain of salt. You’ll never have the perfect outcome. So strictly speaking, does the decision, does the Glasgow Climate Pact include the word cities? No, it doesn’t. But it includes some nevertheless, I’ll be really happy to share some specific language in the chat. I see it is very active with a lot of questions, and I can point people to the very specific clauses, and agreement and articles if you’re interested into that level of detail. But essentially, what the Glasgow Climate Pact does is fourfold. It expresses and I’ll quote directly so you know exactly what it says. It expresses appreciation for the increased targets and the actions, as well as the commitments made by nonparty stakeholders to accelerate sectoral action by 2030. That is a direct, although hidden, reference to the work cities and also other nonparty stakeholders such as regions, businesses, and so on are doing to halve emissions by 2030. And that refers directly to some actions and commitments taken by cities on clean energy procurement, on transport, on building codes, as well as clean construction. The agreement also recognizes the and sort of acknowledges the concept of multi-level and co-operative action. That’s another breadcrumb. You’ve got to look for the breadcrumbs in those decisions. That’s another sign that says right to deliver action, it’s not single level, it’s not just national governments, and similarly so as cities that’s also what we say. It’s not just cities working with philanthropies or or or NGOs. It’s got to be an all of society, multilevel effort. We need national government frameworks, mandates or regulations where they can change it to give cities more powers as well as we need finance. So that’s that’s another point from from from the the decision. And there’s something else important for those of you who follow closely and who will now be turning your attention to COP27. I think one of the positives in our in this sorry, sorry situation where we know current commitments by national governments aren’t enough, they set a trajectory to two point four. Yet, at the COP, they agreed to review this ambition, to review their pledges by next year. The Paris Agreement calls to do that just every five years. So it’s really good. We could have that bit of a reality check and agreement that it’s not enough, we need to do more next year. And next year, COP27 is also when the global stocktake takes place. More COP jargon for you there. But what what the global stocktake does is it looks at how globally the community is doing on its objectives. We set objectives, we take commitments and plans and every other five year phase we check in, how are we doing? Are we on track or are we not? And the agreement in Glasgow recognized that nonparty stakeholders and I keep using that term because that’s the Nuggets. That’s the breadcrumb that means civil society, cities, businesses and the decision taken in Glasgow says they must participate in that process. So it means we’re going to be in the Jules situation right now and in the next 12 month, we’re simultaneously, we’re taking stock of what we’re doing and we’re getting the chance as cities to say, well this is everything we’re contributing and simultaneously we’re having to review ambition and as cities, we will be able to say, you asked for multi-level action, you asked for enhanced ambition, this is everything we can contribute as well. So lots of progress, although slightly hidden in U.N. language.

Mary Rowe [00:28:08] Agathe, I really respect your your diligence and I what I feel is your patience with actually weighing through all this and your optimism. But but I think what you’re suggesting again, once again, the City Talk chat community is a remarkable community, and they are problem solving in the parallel universe over here with their compendium of knowledge and familiarity so thanks gang. Keep at it. Agathe, when when you talk, cities are still not parties, though, correct? Does it matter? Can I hear from any of you? Does it matter?

Julia Langer [00:28:42] I mean, technically only the national governments are parties. This is a United Nations process. And so they are the parties and and which is why you end up with like thirty five thousand people at a COP because anybody else kind of piles on and and recognizes that it’s important to them, they have to participate, it should be broadly inclusive so that the mechanism is as observers. And so I think that that’s why and this conversation is important is that we need to connect those dots. This is your bread crumbs Agathe, it’s like, okay, here are the the big, the big international targets. And you know, we’ve been arguing about targets for the whole entire COP one to twenty six, right? And then and and how we’re going to measure it and who’s going to do what and all of this. But we do need to follow those bread crumbs. We need to explicitly connect those targets to local targets and then those local targets get subdivided based on where we know our emissions come from. This is the practical reality and this is this is where cities and all of our citizens or governments or the businesses, the institutions that make up cities play the implementation role and the tracking role.

Mary Rowe [00:30:06] Well, and also perhaps the program design role, I mean, I think that’s maybe one of the challenges that we in Canada face is that this this national government, as a party, makes commitments, a lot of that will be one and not just on climate, on homelessness, on every national policy they’ve got. A lot of their policies are completely dependent on the capacity of municipal government and other actors to make changes. Right. So Francis, you started us off talking about what you’ve observed and there’s some folks in the chat saying that they think the business and industry maybe has been given too much attention on this. And I’m wondering how we can square that, we need businesses to obviously operate, then I want to come at what can municipal government do? But Francis, what do you say to people that say, look actually business industry is being given too much play on this?

Francis Fong [00:30:54] All right. Can I ask you to clarify? What do you mean too much play exactly?

Mary Rowe [00:30:57] Well, that, somebody in the chat said that that COP26 was really just a reflection of where business and industry were leading.

Francis Fong [00:31:02] Oh, I see, I see. That’s what you mean. I see, that’s what you mean. Yeah, I think it’s, there’s there’s, you know, as as both Julia and Agathe, and of course Freddie have been talking just like a whole bunch of things that are going through my mind, maybe I’ll just address like a few things as quickly as I can. There was one comment in the chat about, you know, can municipalities implement change by themselves without the provincial federal government? And this goes to Julia’s question earlier about, you know, mitigation and adaptation financing. The answer is it’s really difficult, like the, you know, one thing that I think we’ve kind of been dancing around the point of but haven’t really hit hard, hit home on, is the set of policy tools and financing tools that municipalities have at their disposal to do all these things are relatively limited, so the capacity to kind of, you know, finance real change is is really difficult. And then you have like the provincial and federal governments, they might have. And Mary, you’ve already touched on this point very directly. They’ll have like strategic frameworks and ideas of how to decarbonize things, how to make change. But they’re, you know, in a way, you know, six steps removed from things. So they might just kind of say, like, here’s my kind of financial contribution, then an idea of how we ought to do things. But then they depend on on on businesses, industry, municipalities, and the actual actors to implement those changes. So and you could you could say the same thing with with adaptation financing, you know, like so many of the impacts are local and unpredictable. And, you know, we treat it as as like this kind of, you know, after the fact kind of funding that we ought to be doing these things. But the actual on the ground work of adaptation financing and the end and climate adaptation needs to be in the planning phase. It needs to be done by the people that that are kind of exposed to this thing. Now to your question Mary about

Mary Rowe [00:32:47] So insurance is obviously critical.

Francis Fong [00:32:48] Insurance yeah. So there’s there’s so many perspectives I think we can discuss here. But the point I’ll make is this: to your question about does industry and business get too much play in the conversation? And, you know, I’ll come at it, you know, maybe this will be a bit controversial, but I’ll come at it from my own journey about kind of understanding climate change, admittedly this is something that I’ve been studying for for my entire career. I think, you know, I’m probably more like you’re your average citizen in terms of learning about climate change. And I think it’s it’s it’s easy in a way to kind of convince people that are really engaged on the file, that are really knowledgeable about climate change and policies and things of that nature to want to take action and to see change. But it’s a whole other ballgame to try and convince the average public, you know, the, you know, the average person about the need to instigate serious change. I think everyone you know will say, Yeah, of course we get to take. Of course we need to take action. Of course we need to do these things. But at the end of the day, nobody wants to be inconvenienced by them. Nobody wants to pay for them. Like we have this classic free rider problem of like, how do we pay for climate adaptation? And that’s a really

Mary Rowe [00:33:59] Yeah. But some of it is going to be done. I mean, we’ve watched this through COVID, where there’s been resistance to different kinds of health protocols or different kinds of practices, and it’s been a really important exercise. But the leadership came from somewhere, Francis. It’s you know obviously, you know, someone did the science. Someone set up the protocols. Somebody is determining whether we have transit. Someone is determining whether or not we have a building code. Someone is determining whether or not we keep building suburbs. And I guess that’s the question that people are asking here is where is the change going to come from? Because business and industry primarily will respond to regulation that is established by local, provincial. Oh, I see Julia kind of wondering. So Julia, you jump in.

Julia Langer [00:34:41] No, I agree Mary and Francis, I think you know, you’re you’re agreeing too. So the policy framework needs to be set. Like what are the rules of the game? We come back from Glasgow and we have these targets and and we’re going to get measured every year, not every five years. So, those frameworks need to be set at home at a national, provincial, and local level so that everybody has certainty about where where we’re going together and where the capital needs to be deployed and in fact redeployed from some bad things to some better things. And where where those, how those consumer choices can be supported and and directed, how business investment and activities. So it is definitely an obligation, I would say, coming out of Glasgow for for those policy frameworks to be set very clearly. And that has not been the case. And it’s, we have a federation. It is challenging to do this, you know, just from the federal government, but I think municipalities are maybe a more willing partner than some some provinces. And there has been, I think, a lot of effort from the federal government to try to have direct relationships with the municipalities, but is not intermediated and and that can get at some of those emissions reduction opportunities and those job and you know, and the multiple benefits there, the job creation opportunities, the technology advancement, the the the mitigation of impact. So, you know, we need to find the we need to set the frame. We need to set the frame so that it achieves multiple objectives. It’s not just about climate. I mean, it’s it’s about our whole entire economy. It’s about our health, it’s about equity. It’s about, you know, so many things that we can actually achieve by pulling together on this. And and so COP doesn’t make this happen. COP sets, in Glasgow, it really sets the framework for it more intensely than ever. You know, let’s just embrace that, but then get to work locally. That, in the end, is where it hits the ground.

Mary Rowe [00:36:59] So let’s let’s talk about that, if we can, about innovative ways to actually have local action and a lot of people in the chat saying, look, we have cities, municipalities declaring climate emergencies. Freddie, I’m wondering if you could comment with this, a little bit about how do you actually mobilize what what Julia’s getting at, the low, at a local unit or community unit in terms of the Indigenous approach? Are there tangible ways to make this real and so that we can actually get gains locally that would send up rather than just sitting, waiting for somebody to come and tell us, do you know what I mean? What do you think Freddie?

Freddie Huppe Campbell [00:37:30] Most definitely. And I’d just like to build off what Julie is saying, because talking about that collective approach is so ingrained in indigenous ways of knowing and being, also other ways of knowing and being. But how can we bring together everybody in the conversation? I think it’s quite easy if you make the effort to engage everybody and give people more than just a seat at the table, but decision making power. So looking at different communities and bringing those voices together, I mean, the cities are filled with different groups of folks who come from different backgrounds and how can we be inclusive of indigenous voices and ways of being bringing different genders to the table to us, LGBTQ plus groups, folks with disabilities, youth, elders, different racialized and minority groups? How are we bring everybody together to have that collective discussion and then talk about different ways to move forward as one?

Mary Rowe [00:38:26] Who do you think, who do you think should broker that conversation Freddie? I mean, I think again, thanks to everybody in the chat, we’ve got people coming in from four continents here throwing in ideas about how cities, but who should broker that conversation? I worry sometimes that Canadians get a bit passive and we wait, you know, for big daddy to arrive and say, well this is this, it will be this way. What do you think? You’ve got. Where where do you think the impetus should be?

Freddie Huppe Campbell [00:38:49] I’ll give you a very tangible example. For the past six years, indigenous communities have led renewable energy projects in this country. There are over thousands of small to large scale indigenous led renewable energy projects that are being owned with at least twenty five percent equity by indigenous communities. That is a massive number. In six years, those projects have occurred and grown, and the leadership is incredible. The empowerment is incredible, and having that energy sovereignty piece to really bring back different programs to communities has, I mean, the action speaks for itself, but that was done by communities and capacity building models and funding models and policy regulations had to adapt to what those communities thought.

Mary Rowe [00:39:35] To that, to what they needed. So so what were the, I mean, what were the conditions that enabled that to happen in six years? And how do we mimic that in other ways?

Freddie Huppe Campbell [00:39:46] Yeah, I think there are many different pieces that come into this. I say from an organizational perspective, there was a barrier that indigenous communities were facing due to systemic impacts of colonization, which was access to different models of education that were actually impactful for indigenous communities. So in order to kind of bridge that gap, indigenous clean energy worked directly with community energy leaders from across the country to build a program that helped educate on renewable energy, but also brought in indigenous ways of knowing and being. And then that spurred different projects that then had to be negotiated with policymakers.

Mary Rowe [00:40:23] So you were the you were the intermediary. You helped identify a gap that you could see was present, and then you worked with local communities to address the capacity gap? And then and then what else? And then was there money made available or were there?

Freddie Huppe Campbell [00:40:40] I think that the power is really within the communities, and it’s important that the communities are always the one driving that forward. But from a funding perspective, a lot of mechanisms had to shift. I mean, Natural Resources Canada, for example, has a great program. It’s called SERC, and they also have something called Indigenous off diesel initiative. And those programs are specifically tailored to indigenous communities of how some of the barriers exist in other funding programs that communities can access. So that’s a good example of a government program and funding that was really broken down so that indigenous communities could have access. But that came from the community leadership and desire to want these projects and seeing what impacts could occur, and it’s still changing every day. There are many different groups working in these spaces, but I think it can easily happen in urban areas. Just bringing those folks to the table and asking, it’s so easy, but, you know, what do people want? How do they see that being impacted and how can we make that happen? And how can the supports be available to make that happen?

Mary Rowe [00:41:44] So starting at that community level and then identifying the needs, the obstacles, and the growing up. Agathe, I see you nodding away. How does that square with your diplomatic kind of approach and analysis?

Agathe Cavicchioli [00:41:55] Yeah, I I could not have nodded more vigorously to to what Freddie was was sharing with us, and I really want to commend her for for her work and all the community’s work. Um, this you know, it’s it’s it’s rather than new to to to me to hear of indigenous led and renewable energy projects. And it’s it’s really inspiring. I, I, I I also I wanted to say, you know, to the point about the importance of community led, um, you know, ambition, decision making. Um, it’s it’s really critical that I think cities have the awareness of the extent of their power and that sometimes they might feel limited in what they can do. And I’m I’m speaking from the experience of building that coalition of a thousand cities ahead of COP, and indeed speaking to some municipalities in Canada, telling us, yeah, but we don’t have the power to do this. We we cannot control the behaviors, the consumption of our of our inhabitants, which is true. But there’s power in leadership and there’s power in vision and there’s a lot of power in bringing together your residents and your local community groups, including the most vulnerable, the systematically marginalized ones to deliver collectively, truly gender inclusive and and truly inclusive policies. I think a lot of, a lot of local leaders. And by that, I mean, you know, mayors, council leaders would find a lot of inspiration and would find a lot of vision amongst their communities where we can speak also similarly to the work some mayors are doing with youth. There’s a global youth mayors forum to discuss and find solutions, innovative solutions to change the city of the future because it’s the city we’re handing to the next generation. They’ll they’ll be living in it, they’ll be governing it. So it’s it’s it’s critical that they are included in, at this stage of climate action planning and and implementation.

Mary Rowe [00:44:17] Julia, I’m wondering if you could comment a bit about the top down, bottom up grounds, you know? And how do we actually enable both? I know that Canadians just for, I guess, benefit, it’s kind of a blood sport here in Canada to talk about how cities don’t, municipal governments don’t have the power and resources they need. And then it just and then we end up stopping the conversation. So I’m wondering about Julia’s perspective about and what you just said Agathe. There’s a lot that municipalities can do so. What do you think, Julia, top down, bottom up, all of it?

Julia Langer [00:44:45] Well there. Number one, there is a lot that cities already have done, and we and as I say, it’s maybe a bit disaggregated and not yet at scale. But we we, there is plenty of evidence that cities can with the tools and resources and and influence and and innovation that they have move the dial. And so we just need to scale that up. And and it really just boils down to, as you said, right at the beginning Mary, there’s buildings, that’s half a it, and there’s transportation, that’s another, you know, mostly you know about half, there’s waste and then and then the consumption that goes into that. And and of course, throughout that, there’s the the energy that you know that, in our case, it’s the electricity grid and the gas that we use. So you start sort of breaking that down and then you see well you know who has an interest here and who has ideas and opportunities for change and and then do that bottom up, top down play. So the, something the Atmospheric Fund has really focused on for decades is retrofits. So we have a lot of buildings in the Greater Toronto Hamilton area. When we look at getting to 2030, 2040, 2050, pretty much everything has to be retrofitted. Pretty much everything will be retrofitted, but usually it’s not at a deep enough level to get to the emission targets that we need. So we just need to, okay, what are the, you know, like this is, I’m being a bit reductionist about it, but it’s in the end, not rocket science. It’s held back by things like there’s no policy, gas is too cheap, and therefore, what’s the business case? Who are the people who are going to do this? And when you look at it that way, it’s like, these are all good problems to have. Like, these are things that we can do something about, you know, through the efforts of local government, the businesses and owner and owners of the building stock, the suppliers of the equipment, great opportunity, the, you know, the academic institutions, you get to train people for the jobs in the in the green economy. And all of the, many of these things are within the power and ability of the cities to either implement and drive or advocate for at the provincial and federal level. And with with their partners to, you know, to get those policy environments, to get that investment flowing and then coming to capital like there is so much money out there right now looking for impact. I mean, this is another theme in Glasgow, right? It was Mark Carney and everybody else saying, well we’ve got piles of money and and the problem is that there’s there needs to be intermediation. This is one thing that that the Indigenous Clean Energy Organization has done so well is intermediated between the the great projects and the drive of communities to sort of get off diesel and the federal government and those programs mean we we’ve started a project called Retrofit Accelerator to try to to basically bridge between the piles and piles of money that’s looking for impact and the projects out there because it’s complicated, you know, so none of this is easy. But you know, you work away at it. You find where where that translation and intermediation between the top, the top and the bottom is. And then something works, and ICE is a perfect example of that. There, there are good examples of this. Look at renewable energy to some extent in some provinces is a great example like at a bigger scale, not at the community scale. Retrofits in some sectors, you know, we we kind of just need to scale it up and provide the support. And I think when it comes down to practical thinking about this, like the federal government coming back from Glasgow like they, they don’t have so much on the ground capacity, but they can support the intermediaries. And if nothing else, support the intermediation to to make, to bridge those those opportunities, to bring the solutions and the capital together to, you know, to, you know, to put the policies in place like those would be super helpful activities from the federal government to help the local players, governments, business, citizens actually do the implementation.

Mary Rowe [00:49:42] Yeah. Well, you’ve got a you’ve got. As I said Francis you’ve got a couple of hundred intermediaries here who are in the intermediation business who are going to be empowered I hope to do with Freddie’s example and what Julia, just a bit of a call to arms there like, let’s get cracking on it. Go ahead, Francis. What were you going to say?

Francis Fong [00:49:58] Yeah, I was just like, Julia brought up a whole bunch of great points and this this issue we probably haven’t talked enough about is this thing around scaling up. Like, there’s wonderful, wonderful examples of clean energy projects all across the world. And there is now I think this is probably another kind of new area or a much stronger area that came out of Glasgow is the commitment of international financial institutions to really start funding these things. One of the things that we actually didn’t talk about either was also the finalization of rules around article 6 which is the use of carbon offsets towards empty seas, which is, I think, going to be a major, major game changer, particularly for for organizations like ICE that are in regions of the country that are able to take advantage of of carbon sequestration methods and carbon carbon dioxide removal technologies and things of that nature. You know, there’s a project in Iceland that’s basically doing direct air capture and carbon sequestration. That and and their their their basically their carbon removal is getting bought years in advance and upwards of a thousand euros a tonne, crazy, crazy carbon prices when you consider we’re only at $40 a tonne ourselves. So I think the opportunity is there to really just connect the doers with with the financers. And the financers, and this is kind of the point I was trying to make earlier. I think the position that they’re in again, they’re not quite at the level of education I think that you’re you’re, you know, the people that have been in the climate space for, for many, many years are at. And I think right now we’re at the stage where we need to start educating, you know, the average person, the average business, the average industry that is now like, hey these these climate change impacts are at my doorstep. These customers that are demanding that that, you know, society take climate action are at my doorstep. How do I actually do this? What’s my role here?

Mary Rowe [00:51:43] And Francis, as we were just challenged by Julia, she’s saying, well we all have an intermediation role here. So you’re in finance and finance is a huge, you’re with a financial institution. It’s a huge intermediation opportunity to influence how people spend, what they spend on and also how projects are funded, which projects are funded.

Francis Fong [00:52:03] That’s right.

Mary Rowe [00:52:04] Right and what your call then would be back to government to say, hey, we want to do these things, but we need these kinds of financial incentives. Julia?

Julia Langer [00:52:11] Well, just a very practical point there, Francis. You mean you look at some of the, you know, well the big banks like your, you know, like the first tier, the upper tier banks, the pension funds, etc. You know, they they are not intermediaries. They’re sitting there with capital, basically saying, bring us deals of you know this big. Right? But a retrofit is, I don’t know, a million dollars, maybe. Right. So. So that’s why I’m saying that you need the intermediaries. And this is this is again, it’s it’s analogous to the federal to the local level or the international to the local level. You get from the the actual project into the high finance of you know a pension fund, whatever. You need that aggregator, the, you need somebody who’s actually out there talking to the building owners, talking to, as you said, the business owners, and that’s not the banks and pension funds. We’re we’re missing, we’re missing a piece and a sector in our low carbon economy and that needs to be developed out. Is that going to be our utilities? Is that actually going to be the municipal government? Is that actually going to be the banks? Well, I don’t know. Like I think that that this is where some of the nonprofit organizations like ICE and like the Atmospheric Fund come in because we’re committed to the mandate, not to making money, to the mandate and also in not just the carbon, but the equity and the jobs and the health outcomes. And so I think we need to reflect on having and invest in that, to support the aggregation, the intermediation, to make, to grease this this kind of this virtuous wheel so that we can then go back to COP27 and COP28 and say, look what we’ve done, you know we’ve scale this up, we’ve cycled you know more capital and more and drive emissions down because right now we’ve got piles and piles of capital. You know, there was an interesting report that just came out about how look at all this money that’s allegedly in ESG, but emissions are still going up.

Mary Rowe [00:54:37] Still going up.

Julia Langer [00:54:39] So.

Mary Rowe [00:54:40] So this has to be.

Julia Langer [00:54:40] Not quite a line there.

Mary Rowe [00:54:42] It’s got to go from the ground up folks and we’re we’re experiencing these impacts at the ground. As we started off the broadcast, talking about what we can see on the ground, literally in B.C., I’m going around now for some closing comments for each of you to be brief, if you can. Freddie, first to you and then to you Agathe. Go ahead, Freddie.

Freddie Huppe Campbell [00:54:58] Just two quick points. I would say that even if we are talking about the business case, if projects in all scenarios are led by communities, the impact is way greater and the sustainability model is much greater. So having those long term investments that are really driven by communities is just kind of a no brainer, in my opinion. So having those intermediaries is so important to really highlight those possibilities for impacts. And then I would just say that bringing in community voices, it takes time and it takes time to build those relationships. So we are going to be moving very rapidly here, as we’ve all discussed, talking about scaling up. But it’s so important that that free prior and informed consent piece is there and that we actually take the time to ground and and discuss before making huge movements.

Mary Rowe [00:55:47] Yes, I appreciate that point, Freddie, and it’s raised often with us, with our partners, and we appreciate what you’re suggesting there about moving at the speed of human trust as Jay Fitter would say. Agathe, over to you.

Agathe Cavicchioli [00:55:59] I guess, building on what Freddie has said and this time talking about the community of practice of cities. I just really want to stress just how important network dynamics for cities in the world can really change the way they tackle these complex and difficult commitments and actions. The C40 Cities is currently has three Canadian cities, and the other 100 ones are around the world. But the coalition of the race to zero is over a thousand cities. And that friendly competition with cities, as well as that collegial knowledge sharing around issues that you know are the same between San Paulo and Copenhagen, Kinshasa or Montreal, is really, really important to spur innovation, raise ambition and help to share technical knowledge and expertize among among cities. So I think that’s also really important for us to think about in implementation.

Mary Rowe [00:57:06] Yeah, we’re with you. That’s what the Urban Institute’s all about is connective tissue. And how do we how do we get us to learn from each other? Thirty seconds to you Francis, 30 seconds to Julia, go ahead.

Francis Fong [00:57:15] Sure, I’ll say, you know, just to build on Julia’s point about about the role that finance plays, you know, I’m actually pretty optimistic about how things have evolved over the last, even just the last, within the last 12 months. You know, to the point that I think several people have made here in the chat, you know, the way we’ve approached finance up to this point is pretty archaic, like, you know, incorporating some of these impacts and how to actually instigate change. But you know, I think that is changing with some of these commitments that a lot of financial institutions are making now and how to action that. So, you know, generally speaking, yeah I’m pretty happy with how things are, how things are progressing, although obviously it’s not going to be fast enough,

Mary Rowe [00:57:51] We’re going to have to keep it going. Okay, Julia, last word to you. And I’ve got some housekeeping go ahead Julia.

Julia Langer [00:57:56] To bring it back to the COP theme, I would say I’d so much rather have a treaty that was like, how much renewable energy are we going to have, how how efficient are our economies going to be? How much capital are we going to deploy into all these things? And sort of turn it a little bit on its head. Obviously, targets are important and let’s let’s hang on to those and start implementing. But I think we need to start being more explicit and operationalizing the solution side to to keep us inspired and to keep us focused.

Mary Rowe [00:58:33] And what the solutions are, I hear you so much. Well, that’s what cities are about. That’s what everybody on the City Talk always is about is what are the solutions? What can we be doing? How do we actually engage with each other in and within partnership and respectful partnerships? How do we make the progress that we need to make? So Francis, thank you, Freddie. Great to meet you. Julia, always great to see you. And Agathe, thanks for delaying your supper a little time. We have a survey that we put up that helps us evaluate these sessions and also points us in what we should continue to talk about. Because as everybody is acknowledging, there’s no simple solution here. It needs a lot of concerted action and we’ve heard a big call to build a capacity of intermediation. So we’ll want to do more conversation. So I hope you can put some feedback when the survey comes up. And then next on the 2nd of December, we’re talking about housing options and how do we actually address the missing middle, which is a big challenge in Canada, but also has a huge climate implication. Obviously, every aspect of city building now we have to make sure climate is right there with equity and the kinds of considerations we bring to how we’re building our cities going forward. So thanks everybody for joining us at this City Talk. I wish you a happy day. The sun’s come out here behind me and I appreciate the hopefulness that each of you brought, but also the pragmatism. It’s really important for us to hold both of those so. Thanks very much for joining us, and we’ll see you next time.


Julia Langer [00:59:49] Thanks, Mary.


Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

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From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at

00:14:11 Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “everyone” so everyone can see your comments. Attendees: where are you tuning in from today?
00:14:43 Mary Ann Neary: Hello from Toronto, ON
00:14:46 Christopher Moise: Ottawa Canada
00:14:52 Abigail Slater (she/her): Hello from Tkaranto. So interested in hearing your debrief on COP26. And thank you for acknowledging our fellow Canadians out West
00:14:58 Julieta Perucca: Hello! This is Julieta, Deputy Director of The Shift logging in from Geneva Switzerland
00:15:12 Laura Schnurr: Greetings/bonjour from Tiohtià:ke (Montreal), traditional and unceded territory of the Kanien’keha:ka people.
00:15:12 Graham Wilson: Hello from Oshawa, Ontario
00:15:16 Canadian Urban Institute: HOUSEKEEPING: • A friendly zoom reminder, you can see and hear us but we can’t see or hear you • We are recording today’s session and will share it online at • We hope this session is as interactive as possible, so please feel free to share comments, references, links or questions in the chat
00:15:22 Bryan Buggey: Hi from Vancouver! And what a pleasure to see Julia Langer on the screen!
00:15:35 Kary Fell: Hello from Kelowna, BC
00:15:41 Barbara Davies: York Region
00:15:46 Laura Wall: Laura from London ON
00:15:56 Matthew Sweet: Hello from Mississauga, ON
00:16:00 Kirsten Frankish: Hello from Whitby, ON
00:16:28 Lisa Mactaggart: greetings from Guelph on the traditional lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit
00:16:35 Diana (she/her): Hello from the unceded ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples, also called Vancouver.
00:16:42 Emily Cormier: Hello from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
00:16:53 Jenna Dutton: Hello from Victoria, BC
00:16:54 Christene LeVatte: Hello from Nova Scotia, Canada – I am with the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association as Government Relations and Advocacy Chair. we have a particular interest in the urban forest in our Canadian cities and larger municipalities. Really looking forward to this discussion.
00:17:00 Caroline Taylor: Hello from Windsor
00:17:02 Irene Hauzar: Hello from Toronto, ON
00:17:12 Peter Duncan: Hello from Halifax!
00:17:16 Adrienne Kotler: Hello from a Canadian living abroad (in southern Germany)
00:17:33 Steve Sutherland: Hello to all from the folks here at Trellis Transit in Aurora, ON, where we believe that Trellis can provide a preferred alternative to legacy tarmac-based transit.
00:17:35 Baldwin Hum: Hi all from BC
00:17:42 Sarah Warren: Hello from Pickering, ON
00:17:44 Anna Kapusta: hello from Victoria,BC
00:17:53 Anam Khan: Hi from Windsor, ON
00:17:54 Lauren Vraets: Hello from Hamilton, ON
00:17:55 Andre C: Hello from Markham
00:18:31 Rick Ciccarelli: Hello from the Toronto neighbourhood of Mount Dennis!
00:18:32 Teti Argo: Hi, from Toronto
00:18:37 Simon Blakeley: Hello from North Bay, Ontario
00:18:40 Gagan Batra: Hello from Brantford, Ontario!
00:18:57 Harleen Kahlon: Hello from Toronto
00:19:25 Baldwin Hum: COP26 was, to say the least, disappointing. There was no urgency.
00:19:30 Kevin Scanlon: Hello from Prince Edward County
00:19:37 Sonia Sanita: Hi from Vaughan, Ontario
00:20:38 Andre C: Isn’t the answer simple?
00:20:50 Canadian Urban Institute: Francis Fong, Managing Director at TD Economics Francis Fong is Managing Director of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) research at TD Economics. He produces a wide range of research covering both the economic and social implications of the clean energy transition. Francis previously served as chief economist at CPA Canada. He has also conducted research on a wide variety of topics on social and economic issues including on immigration policy, youth unemployment, income inequality, housing, financial markets, and labour market issues.
00:21:01 Baldwin Hum: It seemed that governments/representatives at COP26 were happy to let businesses and the private sector initiate and lead the changes. This is exactly how we got here in the first place.
00:21:27 Canadian Urban Institute: Freddie Huppé Campbell, Global Hub Program Coordinator, Indigenous Clean Energy and Co-host and producer of Decolonizing Power podcast Freddie Huppé Campbell is a proud Métis woman who currently resides on the traditional, unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin nation, also known as Ottawa in Ontario, Canada. She leads Indigenous Clean Energy’s Global Hub, focusing on the acceleration of renewable energy microgrids in Indigenous, island, coastal and remote communities as a core component of just, global climate action. She is the co-host and co-producer of the “Decolonizing Power” podcast series featuring a global network of leaders, including young innovators, sprinting toward a sustainable, fair and impactful clean energy future.
00:21:38 Obaid Shah: Journey from “why” to “how”
00:25:05 Canadian Urban Institute: Agathe Cavicchioli, Head of Advocacy at C40 and the Global Cities Lead at COP26 High-Level Climate Champions Team Agathe works closely with the Head of City Diplomacy to drive strategic and effective engagement of the C40 network in global climate policy dialogue and to maximise its impact in the global political stage. Prior to joining C40, Agathe managed low-carbon development projects for an international local government network and supported the network’s global climate advocacy strategy and engagement in the UNFCCC process.
00:25:16 Canadian Urban Institute: Agathe has an interdisciplinary background in climate science, international climate policy and urban planning. Her experience includes research and consulting for international organizations, NGOs, consultancies, local governments and research institutes in Europe, the US, Brazil and Bangladesh. Agathe holds a MA in Climate and Society from Columbia University and joint Master degrees in European Affairs and Urban Sustainable Development from Sciences Po Lille and Lille University of Science and Technology.
00:28:07 Graham Wilson: Can you clarify what “NDCs” refers to?
00:28:35 Freddie Huppé Campbell (she/her): Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)
00:28:42 Graham Wilson: Thank you
00:28:55 Steve Sutherland: I agree with Freddie – COP26 failed to define action critically important to meet 2030 targets. There is no reason we cannot rip up all urban tarmac to foster the return of nature – trees, foliage, and stress-free cycling and walking paths. Trellis pods for transit of people, goods, and services above are lightweight autonomous systems which are a fraction of the weight of legacy systems like LRTs weighing 48,000 kg running in tarmac and concrete corridors dividing communities. Time to rid cities of tarmac.
00:29:54 Canadian Urban Institute: Julia Langer, CEO, The Atmospheric Fund Julia has held senior leadership positions in the environmental sector for nearly 30 years, managing campaigns and organizations, defining strategy and policy, and inspiring public and private action to address air pollution and climate change. Julia leads TAF’s staff in advancing the organization’s solutions to climate and air pollution, and with support from TAF’s Investment Committee, oversees the fiscal integrity of TAF’s endowment. Julia is a recipient of the 2016 Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence for her environment and climate work and a member of the federal government’s Generation Energy Council.
00:31:41 Baldwin Hum: Cities are critical. But as (North American) cities have been designed and built, they are following a pattern of increasing consumption: consumption of land, capital, and other resources. How do we shift the growth trajectories for our cities such that we don’t continue to centre consumptive growth and move towards growth in an era of radical conservation?
00:32:08 allison ashcroft: C40 North America maintains the current list of Canadian signatories to the Cities Race to Zero, Agathe mentioned. At present there are 24 cities and Mayor Savage(Halifax) as Chair of BCMC has called on his peers to sign on to Cities Race to Zero. Halifax as signed on to both race to zero and race to resilience. here is list of Canadian city signatories
00:34:30 Abigail Slater (she/her): Can cities do what is necessary without provincial and federal support? 413 anyone?
00:34:43 Sharon SHUYA: Where the barriers to taking action discussed at any point in COP26?
00:34:48 Baldwin Hum: Transportation for instance is a major challenge for cities. Yes, we can shift to electrics or other cleaner fuels, but this disregards the resources consumed to continue to build out road and other infrastructure into the sprawling suburbs.
00:35:02 Andre C: We need to rebuild/reorganize our cities. They don’t scale adequately
00:35:42 Baldwin Hum: The mention of Hamilton speaks to the Abigail’s point about provincial/federal support. The provincial government just struck down (?) Hamilton’s proposal to contain urban growth.
00:35:48 allison ashcroft: To answer Mary’s Q, NDCs are Nationally Determined Contributions and they are a reporting requirement of all Parties to the Paris Agreement adopted at COP21 5 yrs ago. NDCs must include Parties’ (country’s) targets, actions and progress for reduceing their fair share of global GHG reductions (globally 46% by 2030) in pursuit of climate neutrality by 2050 which is the central goal of the Paris agreement. NDCs presently are falling far short of what is needed and using the ratchet mechanism and accountability of NDCs, Parties are required/expected tto be enhancing their ambition/targets with their every 5 yr updates of NDCs
00:37:36 Obaid Shah: How many municipalities in Ontario (out of 444) have declared Climate Emergency? I Know Windsor did.
00:38:12 allison ashcroft: I co-authored with GCoM and working with GCoM’s Regional and Local COntributions working group including UNDP, UNEP, UNHabitat, UCLG, LGMA, Giz. This Multilevel Climate Action Playbook sets the path for cities, city networks and national govts for integrating cities into the NDCs and NDC implementation and budgets
00:39:00 Laura Wall: London has but the “plan” has yet to be released – many frustrations
00:39:48 Caroline Taylor: Yes Windsor has declared a Climate Emergency but they are moving forward with relocating the city’s only hospital to a farm field 3 kilometres beyond the city’s airport where no one lives to anchor more sprawl.
00:40:09 Julia Beresford: Would one of the simplest answers to reducing emissions, in cities and generally, not be to only allow energy suppliers to commission low-carbon or carbon neutral generation facilities from now on? Since this would impact all scope 2 emissions of every single entity accessing the electrical grid.
00:40:17 Linda Williams: Hi from Winnipeg. Could we still work on the old urban sprawl which causes so much vehicle usage, promote free public transportation and electric vehicles and provide infrastructure for this. And fine large business polluters and promote and provide incentives to green initiatives and jobs.
00:40:41 allison ashcroft: par 29 : 29. Recalls Article 3 and Article 4, paragraphs 3, 4, 5 and 11, of the Paris Agreement and requests Parties to revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their nationally determined contributions as necessary to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal by the end of 2022, taking into account different national circumstances;the Glasgow Pact
00:41:48 allison ashcroft: re including cities in the global stocktake, here is language in the Glasgow Pact 76. Welcomes the start of the global stocktake, and expresses its determination for the process to be comprehensive, inclusive and consistent with Article 14 of the Paris Agreement and decision 19/CMA.1, in the light of paragraph 5 above; 77. Encourages the high-level champions to support the effective participation of non-Party stakeholders in the global stocktake;
00:42:03 David Hanna: Carolyn, Windsor has to move beyond letterhead slogans.
00:42:56 Agathe Cavicchioli: The preamble of the Glasgow Climate Pact expresses “appreciation (…) for the increased targets and actions announced and the commitments made to work together and with non-Party stakeholders to accelerate sectoral action by 2030”. This is a clear nod to the COP26 Presidency / High-Level Champions Breakthroughs on sectoral action commitments by 2030 that C40 has been pioneering in the form of Declarations since 2018. (Declarations:
00:43:17 Agathe Cavicchioli: The role of local and regional governments in the implementation of the Paris Agreement is further acknowledged in Art. 88 (“recognizes the important role of non-Party stakeholders, including civil society, indigenous peoples, local communities, youth, children, local and regional governments and other stakeholders, in contributing to progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement”) and “their effective participation of non-Party stakeholders in the global stocktake” is encouraged in Art. 77. These are major steps towards a more formal inclusion of cities in the processes of the Paris Agreement, and lays the foundation for 2022-2023 city advocacy in around the Global Stocktake and the next round of NDCs.
00:43:43 Luis Patricio: There is no way we will achieve our targets without prioritizing active transportation. Bikes need to be taken way more seriously
00:43:48 allison ashcroft: he Glasgow Pact re collaboration with non-state actors (non-Parties and how important they are), also supports further funding ans support to the engagement, capacity building and technical mechanisms for reporting
00:43:51 allison ashcroft: 88. Also recognizes the important role of non-Party stakeholders, including civil society, indigenous peoples, local communities, youth, children, local and regional governments and other stakeholders, in contributing to progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement; 89. Welcomes the improvement of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action23 for enhancing ambition, the leadership and actions of the high-level champions, and the work of the secretariat on the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action platform to support accountability and track progress of voluntary initiatives; 90. Also welcomes the high-level communiqué24 on the regional climate weeks and encourages the continuation of regional climate weeks where Parties and non-Party stakeholders can strengthen their credible and durable response to climate change at the regional level;
00:44:05 Luis Patricio: At least they were acknowledged in the 11th hour:
00:44:07 Baldwin Hum: Agreed Linda, transportation and its reduction is critical.
00:45:05 Baldwin Hum: Luis: yes! And compact and more complete communities are key to this. How do we best shift from sprawl to community in our existing urban areas?
00:46:07 Jordan Grant: One of the key infrastructure investments that is needed is changing to a smart electrical grid that will enable small-scale distributed electric generation and storage. Cities that have their own electrical distribution utilities must play a key role in implementing this. Provinces need to set up the regulatory and pricing framework. This is a hugely-complicated undertaking. What is happening in Canada to bring the three levels together to develop and implement such a plan?
00:47:20 Luis Patricio: @Baldwin. Good question. I don’t think it is a linear process, steps need to be taken simultaneously in multiple fronts
00:48:25 Andre C: Need transparent and inclusionary zoning
00:48:27 Baldwin Hum: To Francis’ point, the current system is set up such that the most vulnerable and least resourced people and organisations are the ones that are paying for the failures of our system, climate crisis or otherwise.
00:48:28 allison ashcroft: CUSP has been leading the work in Canada for a number of years to push for cities’ integration into national climate policy (NDC, PanCanadian Framework, Healthy Environment, Healthy Economies plans, etc), Cities have been excluded from the development of these plans but also aren’t even recognized as ciritcal actors in these plans. Here is a list of all the ways CUSP in last 2 yrs has been making waves and working with partners like GCoM, SFU Wosk, etc. have been creating the mechanisms for aggregtating and rolling up city inventories, plan actions, risks/hazards, and financial needs for implementing their rigourously modelled, localized, multiyear, multiactor, multisector plans
00:48:51 Luis Patricio: @Jordan. I think Freddie here on the panel has a few good examples on how this can be done
00:49:25 David Hanna: Business reports quarterly, perhaps that is the next stage for Climate Mitigation (from yearly)
00:49:46 Graham Wilson: If you want to see ground-level view of how city design affects active transportation modeshare, while also dunking on “Fake London” (London, Ontario), check out Not Just Bikes:
00:50:31 Kevin Scanlon: I remember in Toronto when they brought in composting and recycling, there was little enthusiasm on the part of many parents. Too much bother, they said. But it was the children who pushed their parents to do something and now it is fully accepted,
00:51:21 Luis Patricio: Thanks for sharing that @Graham. I highly recommend that youtube channel
00:51:42 Andre C: Maybe we need to demand our voice be heard
00:52:07 allison ashcroft: CUI, CUSP, C40 and others have been working with Shauna Sylvester at SFU Wosk to pull together two 3hr dialogues on the topic of Cities role and need for greater recognition and collboartion from the fed govt. they also held daily briefings from Glasgow that were city-centred. We haven’t yet seen policy shift in canada to include cities, but there has been a MAJOR shift in the converstation and calls to action from influential voices to localize climate action and finance and create direct relations with city governments.
00:52:11 Luis Patricio: 🙌
00:53:00 allison ashcroft: Indigenous Clean Energy and their Catalyst 20/20 program is major contributor to the Indigenous energy justice
00:53:26 allison ashcroft: here’s the program
00:54:34 allison ashcroft: Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities program, a $220-million program to reduce reliance on diesel in rural, remote and Indigenous communities by deploying and demonstrating renewable energy technologies, encouraging energy efficiency and building local skills and capacity. The program is part of the government’s Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, a more than $180-billion investment in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and Canada’s rural and northern communities. Canada’s strengthened climate plan, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, ensures Canada will remain a world leader in clean power. Canada is investing an additional $300 million over five years to help rural, remote and Indigenous communities, currently reliant on fossil fuels, to transition to clean, reliable energy by 2030.
00:54:37 Ian Meredith: This is an awesome water conservation campaign out of Denver CO…could something like this not be done by other municipalities for energy conservation/low carbon?
00:54:52 amanda sebris: Breadcrumbs In fairy tales are associated with disobedient children. ‘Bread’ – the staff of life – cannot save the children in Hansel and Gretel because the children acted independently and stepped outside of the circle of obedience. What ‘THEY’ at Glasgow COP26 (the government and big business) do not remember is in that in the end the children save themselves.
00:57:17 allison ashcroft: The preamble to the Paris Agreement refers in a number of places to Indigenous Peoples alonside local communities and other subnational actors and stakeholders; however, in its 29 Articles, there is only one specific reference to Indigenous Peoples. This reference is contained within the adaptation section of Article 7.
00:58:05 allison ashcroft: The Local Communities and Indigenous People Platform (LCIPP) was established after the Paris Agreement, as a recognition of the need to strengthen the knowledge, technologies, practices and actions of local communities and indigenous peoples, in relation to climate change. COP 24 saw the launch of the Facilitative Working Group (FWG) for LCIPP, which is tasked with scaling up the experiences of local communities and indigenous peoples when responding to climate change. The facilitative working group is a step towards a stronger recognition of local communities and indigenous peoples as key actors within the UNFCCC process.
00:58:48 Ian Meredith: What SPECIFIC actions are you promoting in the buildings sector? Municipalities have lots of power via zoning, permitting, tax incentives, etc. , but everything you are bringing up seems very high-level
00:59:48 Steve Sutherland: I sincerely don’t want to offend anyone by controversial comments, but Francis, I respectfully disagree with your suggestion that cities aren’t able to drive the immediate adoption of solutions to the Climate Crisis. I agree with other panelists that see municipalities as having power to bring together their communities to engender truly inclusive innovative solutions.

Certain cities, such as Hamilton, cannot continue to hide behind ‘business as usual’ and I strongly agree with Julia that cities have direct control of decisions regarding energy, buildings and transportation.
01:00:04 Baldwin Hum: In provinces like Ontario, municipalities aren’t able to fully implement any plans, since the province can come in and arbitrarily change those plans at a whim.
01:00:13 allison ashcroft: there are 3 distinct and inter-related purposes of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (adopted in para 5 of decision 1/CP.23): 1)“To strengthen the knowledge, technologies, practices and efforts of local communities and indigenous peoples related to addressing and responding to climate change”; 2) To facilitate “the exchange of experiences and the sharing of best practices on mitigation and adaptation in a holistic and integrated manner” (also included in para 135 of the decision by which the Paris Agreement was adopted, decision 1/CP.21); and 3)“To enhance the engagement of local communities and indigenous peoples in the UNFCCC process”.
01:01:19 Paul Young: Had good success with this globally recognized process (to start convo) – a framework for the faciliation – e.g., we worked towards complete communities & complete streets
01:01:42 allison ashcroft: check out the sectoral emissions of Canada’s largest cities. we’ve visualized them here for comparison between the profiles of cities but also so they can be aggregated and rolled up to show the significance of these cities in their provincial and national emissions for Canada (as reported to the UN in April2021).
01:02:41 allison ashcroft: 41% of Canada’s emissions come from the transportation, buildings and waste sector
01:02:52 Utha Thurairajah: Carbon dioxide exists in the Earth’s atmosphere at a concentration of approximately 0.04 percent by volume. If so, can anyone in the panel justify the global warming claim by Carbon dioxide?
01:03:16 Baldwin Hum: Thanks Allison! A striking part of that is the role of transport.
01:03:48 Baldwin Hum: Utha, what exactly are you asking here?
01:04:05 Teti Argo: how banks involves in climate responsive projects in cities so that it Is bankable ?
01:04:07 allison ashcroft: the 23 cities that report in CDP which we visualized accont for 52% of emissions from buildings in Canada
01:04:48 allison ashcroft: these same cities nearly a 1/4 of national emissions from transportation and 20% of waste
01:05:41 Baldwin Hum: Francis: Reinsurance has been predicting and pricing the challenges of climate change for decades. How is it that the rest of the business and finance communities have not followed but rather treated everything as business-as-usual?
01:06:01 Graham Wilson: Utha, that’s a bit of a Red Herring and not a valuable use of the panel’s limited time – easy enough to review the body of research:
01:06:36 allison ashcroft: here’s our visualizations re electricity mix. while montreal and bc cities enjoy nearly 100% renewable hydro, Edmonton, Calgary, saskatoon and Halifax are still majority reliant on fossil fuel generated electricity
01:07:51 Baldwin Hum: Alison, is there any look at the environmental impacts of electricity generation? I’m thinking of the ecological degradation caused by even ‘clean’ projects such as hydroelectric dams and the additional social degradation of the megaprojects such as Site C in BC.
01:08:22 allison ashcroft: the four cities of Edmonton, Calgary, Halifax and saskatoon generate 25% of Canada’s emissions from electricity. how are these cities suppose to meet their ghg reduction targets if senior govt doesn’t decarbonize these grids. that needs to be major priority and accelerated
01:08:32 Julia Beresford: Allison, I completely agree that the electrical grid is the primary aspect to focus on lowering emissions. We had a preliminary estimate that the atlantic loop project could reduce emissions by up to 99%
01:08:37 Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at CUI extends a big thank you to TD for their support on CityTalk.
01:09:32 Canadian Urban Institute: COMING UP: Join us on Dec 2 at noon ET for our next CityTalk “Expanding Housing Options: How can we improve housing diversity in our cities?” where we will discuss how we can support “missing middle” housing, such as duplexes, triplexes, and walk-up apartments across low-rise residential neighbourhoods. For more information and to register:
01:09:34 Baldwin Hum: We’ve been shielding businesses and investors and citizens from the full costs of their (in)actions. What are organizations doing to fully recognize the impacts and costs of their actions on the world, and how are they being made accountable for those costs? Externalities don’t cut it anymore.
01:09:53 Obaid Shah: How much of a “Political correctness” is in play for cities growth management plans/strategies?
01:10:46 allison ashcroft: @baldwin there are lots of people that look at that, but I do not look at upstream enviro impacts of hydro dams, of course there is environmental impact but also social justice issues re the Indigenous and remote and rural communities directly impacted by these developments.
01:10:54 Julia Beresford: Baldwin for projects such as hydo etc. there is a requirement for 1:1 area remediation. So while there is environmental impact equivalent area is rehabilitated the same is said of fossil fuel sources except you can reduce emissions per kwh by up to 99%
01:11:34 Sarah Webb: Great discussion and insights — appreciate the critical thinking and continued motivation for our work in cities.
01:11:50 Andre C: Thanks!
01:12:00 Sarah Warren: Integrating messages about health and equity co-benefits of climate mitigation and adaptation is a strong motivator (also from an economic perspective). Public health is an important partner for municipalities as they engage in climate action work. Moreover, the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is a generational opportunity to make the fast, transformative and sustainable change required to meet the Paris agreement.
01:12:04 Julieta Perucca: Great discussion! Thanks to the panelists and CUI for organizing!
01:12:06 Steve Sutherland: I apologize in advance, but I can no longer mince words regarding cities such as Hamilton who deliberately pursue business-as-usual. Hamilton was expected to be the launch of Trellis Transit – but they refused to even consider Trellis. They decided to plow ahead with their $1B LRT (now $3.4B LRT) knowing it would massively increase their emissions and would not inclusively serve their city. Trellis proposed 300 stops and connections – then with $3.4B could run 150km. Hamilton wouldn’t even meet to discuss…. very sad.
01:12:11 Baldwin Hum: Thanks Julia, agreed that rehab/remediation is good, but ultimately it seems that reduction rather than shifting mode is going to be the way forwards.
01:12:15 Sarah Warren: Thank you to all presenters!
01:12:37 Christopher Moise: Great thought Julia. Change our approach, the current one isn’t making the change we need.
01:12:38 Mahmud Rezaei: Thanks !
01:12:38 Laura Schnurr: Thank you Mary for hosting this great conversation and to all the panelists for your thoughts!
01:12:39 Sharon SHUYA: So much great knowledge and resources shared. I agree we need to continue the conversation. Thank you!
01:12:41 amanda sebris: Thank you for this gathering and sharing – insightful and wonderfully promising.
01:12:47 Steve Sutherland: Thanks so much!!! Great dialog!!
01:12:47 Graham Wilson: Thank you very much!
01:12:49 Baldwin Hum: Thanks to the panel for today