Countdown to the Climate Change Master Plan’s 2025 targets

By Cecile Wilson

[Atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa, Hawaii on 21 April 2024: 427.29 parts per million]

Canada ranks number 10 among the top 10 greenhouse gas emitters in the world. A 2022 document on Environmental Sustainability Indicators from Environment and Climate Change Canada reports that although our per capita emissions declined from 2005 to 2019, we still have the highest per capita emissions on the planet. Clearly, our current model of operation is not sustainable. What can we do about it?

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimates that cities have an influence over approximately half of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Cities and towns own approximately 60 per cent of public infrastructure and provide services related to housing, transportation, water and sewers, waste management and planning. Ottawa, for example, manages around $70 billion worth of infrastructure. Actions at the municipal level can make a huge difference.

The City of Ottawa has already made several climate commitments: declaring a Climate Emergency, signing the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2022, and – most significantly –approving a Climate Change Master Plan (CCMP) in January 2020.


Ottawa’s Climate Change Master Plan

The CCMP has a two-part strategy: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation refers to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Adaptation refers to improving the resiliency of the city’s built and natural infrastructure in the face of severe weather events. Responsibility for mitigations and adaptations are divided between the “corporation” (i.e., the City of Ottawa) and the community. The City’s emissions derive from its vehicle fleet, facilities, solid waste and wastewater.

The Climate Change Master Plan has short-, mid-, and long-term deadlines for achieving its mitigation and adaptation targets. The first of those targets comes up next year. How is the plan faring so far?

The goal for 2025 is a 30-per-cent reduction in corporate emissions and a 43per-cent reduction in community emissions over 2012 levels. Last year, the City’s delivered its progress report in April. At the time of writing, the 2024 update had not yet happened but was expected in  late May or early June.

In the 2023 progress report, only two of the eight priorities were proceeding on schedule, five were “off target,” and one had not progressed at all (carbon sequestration and green infrastructure).

One priority that was on schedule was the application of a “climate lens” to capital projects and the management of City assets. For example, the budget included funding for the purchase of electric buses and for conducting energy retrofits of municipal buildings as well as ensuring continued mapping of floodplains and forestry and greenspace protection.

Another priority that was on target was the encouragement of private action through education, incentives, municipal support and advocacy to various levels of government on behalf of individuals and private organizations. To achieve this goal, the city was able to obtain a number of loans and grants to purchase electric buses, install electric-vehicle charging stations, fund most of the retrofit of the Hintonburg Community Centre and support the Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program and the Better Buildings Ottawa Program. For the education aspect of the goal, the City launched the website and the Climate Change Newsletter ( In addition, the City bought 69 thermal cameras for the Ottawa Public Library’s lending collection. Residents can borrow these cameras to locate leaky areas in their homes and target them for sealing.


Will we meet our 2025 targets?

The five priorities falling short of targets include the implementation of the Energy Evolution strategy (the City’s strategy for reducing GHG emissions), the development of a climate risk assessment, applying a climate lens to the Official Plan, setting corporate carbon budgets, and developing a governance framework to help the City and the community work together to take responsibility for climate action.

The City has made some progress on its Climate Change Master Plan, but more work remains to be done. For example, 36 per cent of Ottawa residents do not have access to air conditioning. This becomes a health threat as we anticipate more days above 30°C and higher humidity in coming summers.

As we wait for the 2024 progress report, it is important that residents let the Mayor and their Councillors know that we support the City’s mitigation and adaptation efforts. Money is tight everywhere, but every dollar we can put towards reducing climate risks will help us to avoid higher costs in the long run – both financially and socially – as we deal with the continuing impacts of climate change.

For more information on the type of climate risks we can anticipate in the future and the City’s Climate Resiliency Strategy, check out


Cecile Wilson has been a Glebe resident for 23 years and is a frequent contributor on climate change.

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