Special Report: Climate Change

Climate Change Action Month: Get Involved!

Climate Change Action Month is an opportunity to learn about some of the small but important steps that individuals and organizations can take to address the complex challenge that is climate change.

By Dave Heidebrecht
Published October 23, 2013

As the slow progression of autumn continues to ease us into the awaiting winter months, here in Southern Ontario we continue to shudder as the days grow colder. In Hamilton, the month of October is not only linked to changing weather that comes with the seasons, but to Climate Change Action Month, a month of activities by local organizations dedicated to raising awareness and generating discussion about climate change.

A true collaborative effort involving multiple stakeholders, Climate Change Action Month is an opportunity to learn about some of the small (but important) steps that individuals and organizations can take to address the complex challenge that is climate change.

From mapping your own individual adaptation and mitigation contributions, to learning about flooding in Hamilton at a local lecture, to becoming a signatory to Hamilton's own Climate Change Action Charter, there are a number of ways for Hamiltonians to get involved in an issue that will continue to have major implications on our lived experience, both now, and in the long-run.

Getting Involved

Though many of us don't tend to think of climate change as something that has an impact on our daily lives, we only need to look back to some of the major flooding events that happened across Canada over the summer to realize how large-scale climate change is having an impact in Canada.

As Altaf Arain, Director of McMaster University's Centre for Climate Change notes, "We have seen catastrophic flooding and other weather events in recent years in the Greater Toronto Area and Canada as a whole."

Citing recent floods in Toronto and Alberta earlier this year, Dr. Arain says that these events highlight the flooding dangers within our own community, noting that Hamilton will have to think about both short and long-term responses to extreme weather events that are expected to occur more frequently due to climate change.

Knowing this reality, the ongoing efforts of the many organizations working together during Climate Action Month are incredibly important in raising awareness of the impact of climate change right here in Hamilton.

Here are a few ways that you can get involved in Climate Action Month:

While these are just a few ways that you can still get involved in Climate Action Month, much has already taken place. Green Venture, a Hamilton-based environmental non-profit that promotes education and action on climate change, has just completed a 2-week Community Carbon Challenge.

As Deirdre Connell, Green Venture's Climate Change Program Coordinator, explained, "The Community Carbon Challenge is a fun and interactive way for people to explore ways they can reduce their carbon footprint over the span of two weeks. The purpose of the challenge is to show people different ways that they can live more sustainably in everyday life through reducing their carbon emissions." Run from September 30 to October 11th, the program saw daily challenges posted via Green Venture's Facebook page. Green Venture wrapped up the successful event recently, and the three winners are: Rebecca Jahns, Elley Newman, and Andrew Staples.

From small actions like those taken in the Carbon Challenge to larger actions taken at a community level, Hamilton's Climate Action Month is a great way for you to get involved, learn about the issues, and take action.

How is Hamilton Approaching Climate Change?

Actions taken at a city level have come through the ongoing leadership of Brian Montgomery, Air & Climate Change Coordinator for the City of Hamilton, who has been the champion behind Hamilton's Climate Change Action Charter, Ontario's first community action charter.

Earlier in October, Montgomery was announced as a 2014 Honouree of the Clean 50 Summit, recognizing his ongoing work in helping Hamilton address climate change head on. With Montgomery's leadership, and through actions taken as part of the Climate Change Action Charter, Hamilton has already met its 2020 emissions targets.

On Wednesday, October 23 as part of a week of presentations on progress made, Hamilton City Council will be asked to show its support for this ongoing work by approving the following:

The progress made in Hamilton so far is an amazing testament to hard work and leadership not only within City Hall and through Montgomery's ongoing advocacy efforts, but also amongst a number of dedicated organizations that continue to advocate for awareness, mitigation, and adaptation in the Hamilton area.

As realities of climate change become more apparent, further support for such work is an absolute must. For an update on how climate change is having an impact in Hamilton, Hazel Breton, Manager of Water Resources Engineering for the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) recently shared the following with me:

As has been noted in multiple public lectures on this issue (including Wednesday's public lecture at McMaster Innovation Park), the reality of climate change for Hamilton will likely continue along these lines. Planning for this reality, Breton notes that the HCA "will focus on adaptation measures that will assist in building resilience into communities so that we are prepared for an uncertain future regarding changes in climate".

As climate-related events continue to have a growing impact on our daily lives, HCA's forward-thinking approach to building resilience will surely benefit us all.

Listen, Learn, and Spread the Word

As the HCA, the City of Hamilton, Green Venture, the McMaster Centre for Climate Change, and multiple other groups in and around Hamilton continue to share news and information about climate change (not only throughout October, but year round), we should all be paying attention.

Climate change has been identified as one of the major crises of our time. With such great local knowledge and the equivalent passion and advocacy to share information widely, the Hamilton community is well-positioned to listen, learn, and adapt going forward.

If you're able to make Wednesday's public lecture, it will be a great opportunity for dialogue on flooding, an issue that will be one of the central impacts of climate change on Hamilton. If not, I encourage you to visit the Hamilton Climate Change Champions website to learn more about climate change and what you can do to have an impact.

First published on Dave's website

Dave Heidebrecht is the Manager of McMaster University’s Office of Community Engagement.


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