ClimateActionWR is focused on climate change mitigation in Waterloo Region. As a collaboration between local organizations, community members, and municipalities in Waterloo Region, we coordinate the activities of our community’s climate action plans, measure and monitor progress on emissions reductions, and engage the community in climate action initiatives. ClimateActionWR is jointly led by Reep Green Solutions and Sustainable Waterloo Region, and is funded by the four major municipalities within Waterloo Region.
In the spring of 2021, all 8 municipalities in Waterloo Region endorsed a community greenhouse gas emission reduction target of an 80% reduction (based on 2010 levels) by 2050 (80by50). They also adopted an interim community GHG reduction target of 50% by 2030 (50by30). Achieving and exceeding the goals outlined in the strategy to meet our 50by30 target depends on bold and immediate action by other levels of government beyond Waterloo Region. As a result, advocacy is a key part of this strategy.
The TransformWR strategy outlines our community’s pathway to an 80% greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction by 2050, and identifies local actions that can be taken in Waterloo Region to reduce emissions 30% by 2030.
The development of the TransformWR strategy involved 3 key phases:
Starting with community engagement, we heard from more than 1600 community members across the entire region. Through events, workshops, interviews, focus groups, and surveys, we heard from members of our community about what they wanted the low carbon future of Waterloo Region to look like, and their insights on how we can get there. This work directly informed Our Vision of 2050, and the Principles for Designing a Low Carbon Future.
Through workshops, surveys, and conversations with over 100 technical experts, locally, nationally, and internationally, we learned about the existing and emerging solutions and technologies that could be leveraged to achieve our goal and vision.
Based on both the community and technical data and insights, followed by cross sector collaboration, the pathway to guide our Transition to a Low Carbon Community was developed. Based on this pathway, we identified 6 Transformative Changes to create an Equitable, Prosperous, Resilient Low Carbon Community. These are the six things we must change by 2050 to achieve our vision and meet our GHG reduction goals. For each Transformative Change, a set of strategies were identified, as well as the short-term action items used to inform our 10-year plan.
This work was made possible by the generous support from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Transition 2050 grant and the ongoing support of all eight municipalities (Region of Waterloo, Cities of Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo, and Townships of North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot, and Woolwich).
The Next Step: Our Path to 2030
To achieve a 30% GHG reduction by 2030, a list of 78 action items were outlined in the TransformWR 10-year plan. TransformWR 30-year strategy identifies six Transformative Changes that will help us build an equitable, prosperous, and resilient low carbon community by 2050.
To get there, the next 10 years are crucial. We know from the science that change cannot wait.
Meeting, and especially exceeding, our 2030 goal (to meet our community target of a 50% GHG reduction by 2030) greatly depends on immediate action and supportive policies from federal and provincial governments. Key action items include:
- decarbonizing Ontario’s electricity grid
- implementing carbon pricing
- enhancing provincial land use planning regulations
- increasing building code standards for energy efficiency, embodied carbon and resiliency
Waterloo Region’s Progress So Far
The ClimateActionWR journey began in 2009, when Reep Green Solutions, Sustainable Waterloo Region, the Region of Waterloo, and the University of Waterloo first conducted a study on a community greenhouse gas reduction action plan and target.
In 2013, a collaboration between ClimateActionWR, the Region of Waterloo, and the Cities of Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo led to the first Climate Action Plan for Waterloo Region. This Climate Action Plan aims to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions by 6% below 2010 levels by 2020.
Why 6% by 2020?
It’s ambitious, and it’s achievable. ClimateActionWR’s target of 6% below 2010 levels by 2020 is based on an inventory of Waterloo Region’s greenhouse gas emissions completed in May of 2012. This community-scale inventory shows the carbon footprint of Waterloo Region through the lens of five key sectors: transportation, workplaces, homes, agriculture, and waste. Read the full inventory report here.
Our community reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2% between 2010 and 2015!
After completing a re-inventory of our community’s carbon footprint, we found that reductions in emissions related to workplaces and homes are responsible for most of our community’s success. Local efforts to improve efficiency and reduce consumption have complemented the impact of the provincial phase-out of coal from our electricity grid.
Countering these reductions, local transportation emissions grew substantially as vehicle ownership rose at twice the rate of population growth and resulted in more vehicles on the road per person than in 2010.
The full reported findings are published in our progress report, Our Progress, Our Path.
- Read the full report here.
- For more information on how our emissions break down into sectors, check out our resources page.
In 2021, another re-inventory of Waterloo Region’s carbon footprint will be completed, which will provide a comprehensive view of the 10-year target. At that time, we will learn the results of Waterloo Region’s progress towards achieving our initial 6% target, and how we can continue forward towards our 80% target by 2050.
Want to get involved?
Make a Climate Action Pledge, and check our Get Involved page for opportunities to take climate action!
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Stay up to date on progress towards our goal