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80 by 50 Update: Transforming Waterloo Region To A Low Carbon Community

By: Samantha Tremmel

January 31st, 2020

The ClimateActionWR team has been very busy over the last several months, not only working away on our community’s current Climate Action Plan (to achieve a 6% GHG reduction by the end of 2020), but also looking ahead to the future. We rely on community members to support and influence our work, so we wanted to provide an update on this exciting new project as we develop Waterloo Region’s long-term Climate Action Strategy to achieve an 80% greenhouse gas reduction by 2050.

What has ClimateActionWR been up to?

It has been about a year since ClimateActionWR received funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to develop Waterloo Region’s long-term community Climate Action Strategy, to achieve an 80% local greenhouse gas reduction by 2050. We have since been very busy working with all 8 area municipalities in Waterloo Region, as well as local organizations and community members, in developing our approach to this ambitious project and diving into the execution. The entire project is broken up into 3 phases: 

  • Community Engagement: gathering insights and ideas from community members.
  • Expert & Technical Engagement: working with local, national, and global subject-matter experts and academics to develop the technical pathway to achieving this ambitious goal.
  • Development of the long-term (30-year) Climate Action Strategy, and the accompanying short-term Climate Action Plan to identify what needs to be completed in the first 10 years.

Where are We Now?

Phase 1, Community Engagement started in July and concluded mid-January 2020. Since then:

  • Our Street Teams attended 35 events across Waterloo Region where we heard from over 900 community members;
  • We asked for the community’s vision for the year 2050 and received over 500 responses;
  • We’ve hosted 9 focus groups with different stakeholder groups in the community;
  • Conducted 36 interviews with municipal and community stakeholders;
  • We hosted 5 community workshops across Waterloo Region!

Phase 2, Expert & Technical Engagement began in November and will conclude at the end of February 2020. So far, over 80 subject matter experts in the areas of transportation, sustainable buildings (commercial and residential), agriculture, and waste have been consulted to provide valuable insight into the challenges, obstacles, and potential solutions for how we can achieve our 80% greenhouse gas emission reduction target by 2050. 

Phase 3, Development of the long-term (30-year) Climate Action Strategy officially began January 2020, and will draw on the learnings from both the community and technical engagement phases. The final strategy document will be released at the end of 2020, with opportunities for public review and consultation prior to finalization. 

What’s next?

In the spring and summer of 2020, ClimateActionWR will continue to work closely with two local consultants, community members, municipal partners, and technical experts to develop two reports; one report will outline the community’s long-term Climate Action Strategy to achieve an 80% greenhouse gas reduction by 2050, and the other will be shorter-term Climate Action Plan that will serve as a road map for addressing the first 10 years of the Strategy. In addition, we will be hosting peer learning workshops, conducting two pilot projects (one for Sustainable Buildings, and one for addressing emissions from Transportation), and engaging stakeholders in draft report consultations.

By the end of 2020, the final long-term Strategy and short-term Plan to achieve Waterloo Region’s 80% greenhouse gas emission reduction goal will be shared with the community, and commemorated with a community-wide launch event.

The ClimateActionWR team is looking forward to a bright – and busy! – year ahead as we work towards Transforming Waterloo Region to a Low-Carbon Community.

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