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FCM, Globe Series partner on net zero action

by Sean Meyer, Municipal World
in Environment

Sustainability leaders from across Canada will join together to discuss local pathways to net-zero emissions during the upcoming Globe Forum 2022.

Local Solutions to Net Zero is a program stream taking place during Globe Forum 2022. The forum is taking place both online and in-person, in Vancouver, March 29-31. The net zero session partners the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) with Globe Series. Globe Series has connected leaders and innovators in the clean economy for more than 30 years.

Natural Alignment for FCM, Globe Series

FCM CEO Carole Saab said that there are many reasons to celebrate the Globe Series partnership. From a practical standpoint, Saab said that the forum offers local leaders an opportunity to have first-hand conversations with innovators who can impact climate change action in a tangible way.

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“It feels like a very natural alignment and a very smart partnership for us to be able to connect the stakeholders that Globe brings together with the membership that we represent,” Saab said. “It will bring all sectors together for the kind of all hands-on-deck effort that is going to be required to make progress on climate change.”

Globe Series Managing Director Elizabeth Shirt agrees with Saab. The partnership on the net zero program stream, she adds, makes a great deal of sense. First off, Shirt said, municipalities are the ones on the front lines of climate change. As an example, she points to how BC communities dealt with unprecedented fires and devastating flooding this past summer. Municipalities are bearing the brunt of those tragedies, but Shirt said that local governments are uniquely positioned to drive much-needed change.

Reaching the net zero goal that Globe Series advocates is both an imperative and an opportunity. Shirt said the partnership with FCM is one way that the organization can deliver on its call to action.

“On the flip side is the incredible opportunity of municipalities on those front lines. They’re uniquely positioned to lead when it comes to the climate action that we need to take,” Shirt said. “In my mind it is not just a no brainer. It’s imperative that those on the front lines of impacts of climate, and action on climate, have to be part of not just the conversation but the delivering on the action that we need to take.”

Local Solutions to Net Zero

FCM’s session will focus on high-impact areas where municipalities have an essential role to play. This includes: buildings, energy, transportation, and waste. Saab said that these topics will showcase where local innovation can be accelerated and scaled up. It will also explore implementation challenges related to procurement, governance, and regulation. These will all need partnerships with the private sector to succeed. That, and unprecedented cooperation between the various orders of government.

Saab said that municipalities are at the heart of a transition to net zero. They play a critical role in dealing with the impacts of climate change. At the same time, they shape how municipalities can decarbonize going forward.

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“We’re looking at high-impact areas where municipalities will play a central role. So, buildings, energy, transportation, and waste, and having really tangible conversations that link to the opportunities of the day to make really significant progress,” Saab said. “I hope that for municipalities and local government leaders who come to the conference, that they get very practical, tangible takeaways. I hope it helps enlighten everyone on the opportunities that reside within local government action.”

Quick Action on Climate Change

The conversations being had around local climate action are no longer theoretical. Shirt said that she hopes delegates will return home with solid ideas for implementing change. Part of the over-arching framework for Globe Forum is called 10 by 10. This includes 10 actions communities need to take in the next 10 years to get on that path to net zero.

Shirt said that Globe Series has made a commitment toward change. It will also take some accountability on the actions she said need to take place.

“We don’t want all this to happen in a three-day vacuum and then off you go back home. It is about providing those tangible actions and opportunities to continue to push forward and to continue to collaborate on,” she said. “Globe will take on that accountability to continue convening around those actions. But we can’t do that alone. We need our partners, and we need the Globe community with us. We’ve got to get there; failure is not an option.”

Municipal Voices Take the Lead

Shirt and Saab agreed that there was a time when cities weren’t included in these conversations. Too much time, they added, went into convincing people that municipalities were the key to effective climate action. Saab adds it is helpful that argument is no longer a part of the climate change conversation. But even so, she adds, there is a good deal of advocacy work to be done.

FCM continues to remind people how much of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are impacted by the actions of municipalities. At the same time, FCM is also continuing to remind people how much innovation is happening at the local level. The real question becomes how that local climate action can be scaled up across the country.

“We’re looking specifically at buildings, specifically at energy, at transportation, and at waste. And within each of those streams, really focusing on the local innovation that can be accelerated, that can be scaled up. And also, sort of what are the implementation challenges,” Saab said. “One of the most beautiful things about this partnership with Globe is that it helps bring all sectors together for this kind of a conversation. This is going to be a really unique opportunity to have that conversation in a very tangible way.”

Participants in the stream will have the opportunity to meet and interact with municipal staff, elected officials, technology providers, and leading thinkers on community sustainability. This will be true both on-site at the Vancouver Convention Centre and via the virtual livestream.

Delegates to Take Climate Action

With that opportunity, Shirt said that she is excited to see the program develop. It will provide delegates with the chance to dig into everything from opportunities around building retrofits and zero emission vehicles to sustainable procurement and affordable housing. But those conversations will always be had, she adds, with a focus of on best practices.

“What are the lessons learned from a policy, from a technology, from an investment standpoint to get at those actions that can be taken at that local level?” Shirt asked. “The mix of who’s at the table from a variety of sectors, from all positions of leadership – that’s the value of this local solution stream. And partnering with FCM on that, we’re able to make it even more robust conversation than ever before.”  MW

Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in Natalia Barbour’s article: Sustainable mobility is within our grasp.


Sean Meyer is Senior Content Editor for Municipal World.

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