In December 2006, Environment Hamilton published a call to action for the city of Hamilton to address the challenges of climate change with ten short-term, low cost recommendations.
Today, EH issued an update on the city's progress in the past two years. Here's the EH report card:
|Sponsor a 2007 conference in Hamilton on Effective Municipal Actions to Address Climate Change and commission a study of best practices being utilized in other cities.||B-|
|As part of the annual Clean Air Hamilton Report, include an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in Hamilton by municipal operations and by the community, and updates on programs and measures to reduce these emissions.||B-|
|Adopt the recommendation of Dr Richard Gilbert to commission a detailed study on how Hamilton can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and respond effectively to the pending shortages of fossil fuels.||C-|
|Establish a timetable, annual targets and an implementation program to achieve the city's Official Plan objective of increasing transit ridership to at least 100 rides per capita by 2020 (currently 47).||F|
|Provide free public transit on all smog days.||D|
|Support the establishment of high occupancy vehicle lanes within the City of Hamilton, and initiate steps to implement these by 2010 on at least two major east-west corridors (such as Main-King, Mohawk).||F|
|Approve and enforce an anti-idling bylaw and adopt a bylaw banning or restricting the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers and weed whackers within the city of Hamilton.||C|
|Impose a moratorium on all new commercial drive-thru operations, and establish a timetable to phase out existing commercial drive-thru operations.||F|
|Establish a timetable and annual targets to double Hamilton's urban tree canopy by 2025.||B-|
|Establish an after-hours lights-out program for all city facilities and offices and encourage private businesses to do the same.||B-|
Not very impressive during a period when public awareness of climate change (and the related issue of energy price volatility) exploded globally.
What struck me about the report card is that the measures the city has more or less adopted - sponsoring a conference, taking an inventory of city GHG emissions, setting a tree canopy timetable, and establishing an after-hours lights-out program - are relatively trivial and don't require a significant transformation of the city's priorities.
They're mostly window dressing on a municipal system of land use and transportation that is still largely antithetical to real GHG reductions.
The more substantive proposals have languished in inaction - like adopting Richard Gilbert's economic development proposal for an energy-creating and -conserving cluster - or else been soundly defeated - like the moratorium on drive thrus.
In 2007, Council voted against asking staff to investigate the possibility of free transit (let alone implementing it), and a more modest proposal to offer free transit on smog days has stalled.
Similarly, council passed an anti-idling bylaw that was so watered down it is effectively worthless as a tool of enforcement.
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