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Climate Change Exchange

Climate Action and Opportunities

The science is clear. Transformative, rapid, and sustained climate change mitigation and adaptation from every sector and level of government are required to reduce the risks to people, nature, and the economy. The good news is that there are many options, and we have the required knowledge and technology to implement effective climate mitigation and adaptation strategies to protect people and nature. Municipalities, community organizations and individuals are progressively working on climate mitigation and adaptation.

Mitigation and Adaptation are essential to fight climate change. They work together to significantly reduce the risks of climate change.

Mitigation actions reduce, restrict, or remove GHGs from the atmosphere. Mitigation targets the source of climate change (GHG emissions) by reducing the amount released into the atmosphere or by enhancing carbon sinks that remove GHGs from the atmosphere. The aim of mitigation is to reduce the magnitude of climate change to levels that are manageable.

Adaptation actions prepare for, adjust to, or cope with the impacts of climate change. Adaptation aims to reduce exposure, decrease sensitivity, and increase adaptive capacity. In other words, adaptation works to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience to climate change. Adaptation must address the root causes of vulnerability (e.g., access to safe food, water, shelter, clean air; access to health services; ending racism) as well as address the symptoms (e.g., new health risks; building strong infrastructure).

The Mitigation-Adaptation Nexus

The nexus between mitigation and adaptation reflects the connections that link the two. Both approaches to climate action are interconnected and synergistic. They work together for more significant influence on reducing vulnerability than either could alone. Adaptation offers benefits for mitigation and vice versa.

Mitigation reduces the magnitude of climate change that adaptation would need to manage – making adaptation more feasible. Similarly, adaptation actions often contribute to reducing atmospheric GHG reducing the challenges and costs of mitigation.

Sometimes, climate mitigation and adaptation can be in conflict or have trade-offs that must be considered. For example, air conditioning is a method to adapt to extreme heat, which can hinder mitigation efforts by contributing to GHG emissions, particularly when energy sources are not green or sustainable.

Climate action are zero-regrets actions. Measures aiming towards climate change adaptation and mitigation often have many other positive spin-offs for our health, economy and environment. These are referred to as co-benefits (or Triple Wins).

Health co-benefits are ways climate action supports physical and mental health and wellbeing. Health co-benefits of climate action are enormous, and in-turn provide additional economic savings for individuals, organizations, and governments. Examples of health co-benefits include: improved air quality, physical activity, mental health, road safety, food security and nutrition, water quality and availability, social networks, capital and connectivity, health equity and social justice.

Economic co-benefits are ways in which climate action benefit economies and financial security of households, organizations, and governments. Climate action saves money in the short and long term.

Environmental co-benefits are the ways climate action benefits natural environments and in turn, provides additional health and economic benefits. Environmental co-benefits include re-forestation, river and stream restoration, wetland restoration, protection and expansion of natural/semi-natural areas, ecosystem connectivity and resiliency, biodiversity and habitat preservation. Habitat restoration and creation, and pollution reduction/clean air.

Local municipalities and intersectoral community organizations have a role and duty to support international, national, and local commitments that support climate mitigation and adaptation.

International Commitments:

National Commitments:

The Government of Canada has made various commitments to climate change action. This includes committing to international agreements (identified above), as well as commitments outlined in various plans and strategies, including:

Local Commitments:

Several Municipalities and Organizations within Simcoe Muskoka have made local commitments to climate change adaptation and mitigation, while others are working on developing plans and commitments. Some examples are identified below.

  • The District of Muskoka has committed to GHG reductions of 50% by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050 at a corporate and community level, guided by A New Leaf: Muskoka’s Climate Change Strategy.
  • The City of Orillia, is committed to climate change action outlined in Orillia’s Climate Future: Climate Change Action Plan.
  • The City of Barrie’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Community Energy & Greenhous Gas Reduction Plan outlines commitments to climate adaptation and mitigation.
  • County of Simcoe is developing its Corporate Climate Change Action Plan (In Development).
  • Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority is committed to climate action and is guided by several strategies including the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, Climate Change Mitigation Strategy for the Lake Simcoe Watershed and Carbon Reduction Strategy.
  • The Town of Innisfil is working to complete the Partners for climate protection program.
  • The Town of Collingwood has committed to a corporate greenhouse gas reduction target of a minimum of 30% below 2019 levels by 2030 identified in the Greener Collingwood Climate Change Action Plan. The development of a Community Climate Change Action Plan is in progress following the Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) Program.
  • The vision of Toronto Region Conservation Authorities' new Strategic Plan (2023-2034) is the achievement of safe and resilient communities.
  • Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has identified climate change as a priority public health issue since 2015 and is committed to reducing the negative health outcomes and inequities associated with climate change.
  • The Town of New Tecumseth is developing a Community Climate Change Action Plan which promotes holistic climate action by a variety of stakeholders including municipal staff and community action groups.

Climate Emergency Declarations

Declarations of climate change emergency or crisis draw attention to the true crisis of climate change, the urgency to act and signals climate change as a priority issue. Several Municipal councils within Simcoe Muskoka have made climate emergency declarations, including:

  • Barrie
  • Bracebridge
  • Collingwood
  • District of Muskoka
  • Gravenhurst
  • Huntsville
  • Innisfil
  • Wasaga

Climate actions include mitigation efforts that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation efforts that strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate impacts. Climate action is diverse. They can be big or small. Everyone – all levels of Government, intersectoral businesses and organizations, communities and individuals, have an important role to play in climate action.

There are many good examples of climate action in Simcoe Muskoka. Together, we must continue to strengthen climate action efforts to reflect the urgency of climate change. Below are links to some examples of climate work being done by CCE members in Simcoe Muskoka.

District of Muskoka

Georgian Bay Biosphere Mnidoo Gamii

Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

Simcoe County District School Board

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

Town of Innisfil

City of Orillia

Town of Collingwood

Resources to support climate mitigation and adaptation in Simcoe Muskoka can be found under resources for municipal and community partners.

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