Share |
Climate SMART: Be cool - reduce global warming & climate risks

Climate Change in HRM

Canadian Geographic Cover

Canadian Geographic Article - Global warming is giving Halifax a sinking feeling. How is the maritime city planning for a future of rising sea levels and wilder weather?



Climate SMART

An HRM Integrated Strategy for Climate Change Mitigation and Impact & Adaptation Preparedness and Planning - the Climate Sustainable Mitigation and Adaptation Risk Toolkit.


HRM partnered with all levels of government and the private sector to develop Climate SMART, a fully integrated planning approach that addresses the impacts of climate change. The program supports a wide range of adaptation and mitigation activities, including models to determine potential climate change impacts, compiling up-to-date greenhouse gas (GHG) emission information, and preparing emission management options for different sectors of the community. Climate SMART is part HRM's umbrella Healthy, Sustainable, Vibrant Communities strategy under which it implements a variety of sustainability initiatives, such as:

  • a plan for a district energy system;
  • a reduced idling campaign;
  • a Clean Air Strategy; and
  • a Community Energy Plan.

Climate SMART is the first initiative of its kind at the municipal level that integrates and mainstreams greenhouse gas emission reduction and climate change impacts and adaptation considerations into its overall corporate-decision making process.


As a coastal municipality stretching over 5,500 square kilometres HRM is vulnerable to climate impacts. In recent years, severe weather events have become more frequent and are typified by the following extremes:

  • February 2004 -  One Metre Snow Storm: $5 million unbudgeted snow removal/damaged wire utilities;
  • September 2003 Hurricane Juan: HRM/Nova Scotia suffered $100 million in material & environmental damage. Extensive power outages and communications utility disruptions;
  • March 2003 Torrential Rains & Flash Floods: Nova Scotia and HRM experience $15 million losses from excessive loads on wired utilities and sewer & transportation infrastructure;
  • January 2003 Rapid Ice Storm: In HRM, felled trees on streets & buildings. Downed power and cable lines resulting in considerable unbudgeted debris removal & infrastructure repair costs.

Effects of Global Warming

Hurricane Juan damage
Snow storm
Hurricane Juan
"White Juan" Blizzard

Extreme climatic events will mean increased energy consumption and financial costs to HRM such as:

  • Additional heating of public, private and residential facilities during cold snaps;
  • air conditioning overloads during heat waves;
  • more snow plowing & salting;
  • repair or redesign of vulnerable essential infrastructure, for example,  water & energy plants, communications networks, storm drains, schools and clinics to withstand extreme weather loadings.

Project Details

As a response to such extreme events, in 2003, select companies of ClimAdapt (a network of private-sector companies in Nova Scotia that provide climate change adaptation expertise) approached HRM to see what could be done about the impacts of climate change.  HRM formed an action plan steering committee to develop the Climate SMART model. Committee members included municipal staff and representatives from the private sector. HRM also created an informal working group of senior federal, provincial and municipal officials to develop new policies and strategies. The result of this initiative was Climate SMART (Sustainable Mitigation and Adaptation Risk Toolkit), a leading edge collaborative partnership involving both the public and private sectors. Its goal is to help municipalities integrate "greenhouse gas" emission reduction and climate change impact & adaptation issues into the decision-making process for policy makers, practitioners and vulnerable communities. With HRM as the prototype municipality, lessons learned can be replicated in other municipalities across Canada and overseas.  Plainly put, Climate SMART is helping HRM & its partners to develop management and planning tools to prepare for climate change impacts, and to develop strategies to reduce practices that contribute to global warming in the first place - primarily the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

This pioneering project is:

  • Reinforcing HRM's leadership on climate change priorities on the ground; help fulfill Nova Scotia's commitment (Towards a Sustainable Environment) to address climate change adaptation; & support the Federal and Provincial Governments' Climate Change priorities; and
  • Create an enabling environment to leverage Federal-Provincial mitigation and adaptation funding for integrated climate change actions.
As a public-private initiative, Climate SMART addresses mitigation and adaptation opportunities from a cost-benefit perspective, with special consideration given to the long-term sustainability of the measures to be implemented. The plan encompasses all of HRM's corporate and community assets and activities, and includes a series of tools that are used to incorporate climate change information into its municipal decision-making processes. Climate SMART was formally launched in March, 2004 and includes several key deliverables:
  1. Vulnerability assessments and sustainability analyses
  2. Cost-benefit assessments
  3. Emissions management and mitigation tool
  4. Climate change risk management plan
  5. An emissions management and adaptation methodology, which includes methodologies for each sector of the community
  6. Communications and outreach

Partners - A Truly Collaborative Effort

The Climate SMART partners are: