Residents spur climate-ready cities

Sunset over Edmonton

Thanks to the influence of grassroots activists and other locals who care, municipalities like Edmonton are taking action to address the climate emergency. (Photo: newelly54 via Flickr)

Canada is not on track to meet its commitment to reduce emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. And to meet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 1.5 C warming limit and avert the worst consequences of global heating, we need far more ambitious targets.

The good news: Cities and towns around the world have declared climate emergencies, acknowledging the severity of the crisis and making meaningful plans to reduce emissions.

About 80 per cent of people in Canada live in cities. Municipalities have influence over about 50 per cent of the country’s emissions.

Residents’ voices are powerful. Elected council members are responsible to their constituents.

And thanks to the influence of locals who care (including supporters like you), municipalities are taking action:


In EDMONTON, we helped empower residents to implement the city’s energy transition strategy, identify quick starts and develop a phased rollout. We also helped strengthen the citizen-led energy transition movement by working with a wide range of community groups.


After MONTREAL released its climate plan in December 2020, we helped the Partenariat Climat Montréal begin to implement it by co-ordinating citizen-led initiatives and taking part in the steering committee. We also pushed for mobility and urban development plans, building regulations and public transportation systems.


REGINA is leading the way in Saskatchewan. We supported its bold climate actions and plan. We joined the city’s energy and sustainability framework advisory committee, advanced the city’s energy transition by convening dialogues, supported community organizations calling for public transit actions and worked in developing decarbonization pathways. We supported important climate equity research at the University of Regina that’s also relevant to other cities.

Metro Toronto

METRO TORONTO is at an early stage in its climate journey. We connected with city staff, especially in Brampton and Mississauga. We worked with Brampton city staff and council to build capacity for motions and help build social license for climate action. We’ve also supported Brampton on transit projects and energy transition.

We hosted several dialogues with young Black, Indigenous and other people of colour, learned that their priority is climate justice and are designing a pilot initiative to build community understanding of the connections between climate and equity.

Metro Vancouver

We’re helping METRO VANCOUVER strengthen its climate plan and regional transportation strategy and provided recommendations on best policies and practices that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For anyone who wants to get started where they live, we published Your voice at the table, an online guide that people work with their local councils to:

  • Envision the future they want for their community.
  • Learn about the big solutions that will help reduce emissions.
  • Understand how local governments work and how to work with them.
  • Connect with like-minded climate advocates where they live.
  • Stay inspired with stories from communities throughout Canada.

We also launched two online organizing hubs, Réseau Demain le Québec and Future Ground Network, which are supporting and mentoring hundreds of grassroots groups and reaching thousands of people.

Want to take a first step in your community?

Tell federal decision-makers you believe people throughout Canada deserve resilient, sustainable cities that increase well-being and benefit everyone.

Help create sustainable communities

What our cities do individually and in unison to address climate change can set the agenda for communities and governments everywhere.

C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group*

Grassroots activists lead the way

Residents are powerful. Everyone has a right — and a responsibility — to let elected officials know what they want to see in their community.

These local leaders demonstrate what can be achieved by communicating with decision-makers and mobilizing their neighbours into collective action.

Mike Mellross

Show up and speak up. The best way for you to get politically active is through your municipality. At the local level, you will never be closer to the decision-making. You cannot get that audience with the province or the federal government, but you can show up at a council meeting and you can say your five minutes. And you can also talk to your councillors and your mayor on a regular basis.

Mike Mellross, Edmonton

Youth climate advocates outside City Hall

You don’t have to know absolutely everything before presenting to council or meeting with councillors. It’s their job to listen to you because they represent residents in the municipality.

Lily Barraclough, Halifax

Mississauga youth

Not a lot of people recognize that climate change is a real emergency. We need to start treating it as the emergency it is by first recognizing it and taking action.

Sophia DeGraaf, Mississauga

Divya Arora

You don’t need to wait for the right time, the right tools, or the right background to make a change. If you put your passion out there, there will be people who share your beliefs and will support you.

Divya Arora, Peel Region

Regina climate advocate Yvette Crane

If there’s something you really feel strongly about, you’ve got to follow up. If the issue is really important to you, don’t assume they’ll contact you … It would have been very easy to say, ‘Okay we got it passed. Now it’s up to the city — we’re not involved anymore.’ But none of us did that.

Yvette Crane, Regina

Sustainabiliteens paint a mural outside

We’re not trying to make everyone in the world a climate activist. We’re actually trying to bring climate into our other identities and think about how climate affects each aspect of our lives.

Naia Lee, Vancouver

Finding Solutions features stories of caring people like you who make everything here possible. You can read, share, discuss, take action, join, donate. Whatever you choose, you’re helping protect Earth’s life-support systems. Thank you.

*The 97 C40 Cities represent more than 700 million people and one-quarter of the global economy. Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are members.