Last updated: April 25, 2023
- Why is it important to invest in climate initiatives now?
The 46 actions defined in HalifACT will take time to implement and realize. If we delay making these investments, the economic, social and environmental cost of inaction will grow substantially.
In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Assessment Report 6 (AR6). Referred to as a “code red for humanity,” the AR6 report is the most comprehensive assessment of climate change to date. The findings are clearer and more critical than ever – human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented and destructive ways.
While HalifACT may be a 30-year plan, most of the actions need to be taken within the first 10 years to meet targets. If we remain in a “business as usual” mode, the municipality’s carbon budget will be exceeded by 2028. The carbon budget is the total amount of carbon dioxide emissions that can be released into the atmosphere to remain within the 1.5°C threshold.
- How much will it cost to deliver the HalifACT plan and how much will it save residents?
The HalifACT plan positions the municipality as a leader in climate action, and its implementation requires significant financial investment.
Both public and private investments will be required to reduce the municipality’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and achieve net-zero targets, with a cost estimate of $22 billion over the next 30 years.
As recommended by the Insurance Bureau of Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, best practice for public and private investment in climate change adaptation measures falls between 0.6 per cent to 1.25 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). This means that ideally, the collective investments in the municipality, from both government and corporate organizations should be between $115 and $240 million annually for adaptation.
In Canada, the current economic impacts of the climate emergency average $5 billion per year. By 2050, these impacts are estimated to reach between $21 and $43 billion per year. Research shows that every $1 invested in climate change adaptation saves $6 in future climate impact costs. By investing $240 million in adaptation measures in one year, the region could avoid $1.44 billion in future costs associated with climate impacts.
- What are the savings and benefits of delivering the HalifACT plan?
Implementing the HalifACT plan and transitioning to a low-carbon economy will lead to substantial cost savings for residents and the municipality through returns on investment and avoided future costs.
Residents will benefit from upfront investments such as deep retrofits to existing homes and buildings, which will lower energy needs by over 50 per cent and increase resiliency to climate impacts. Additionally, residents will benefit from investments in clean energy production and sustainable modes of transportation.
Businesses, residents and governments will see a net benefit of approximately $21.9 billion in avoided energy costs, operations, maintenance, carbon pricing and increased revenues from energy generation. By 2030, these savings will begin to offset investments.
Building new, net-zero and climate-resilient municipal buildings will reduce the cost of operating and maintaining buildings, ultimately lowering the municipality’s costs to deliver services.
Actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions can improve air quality, reduce noise pollution, provide space for recreation, physical activity and social interaction. Adapting to the changing climate will strengthen emergency preparedness and infrastructure resilience, while also enhancing natural habitats and biodiversity.
HalifACT will create employment opportunities and stimulate new and existing businesses. Major investments in resilient and decarbonized infrastructure will lead to career opportunities in the building construction and retrofit, transportation and renewable energy sectors.
Though the upfront investment in HalifACT is substantial, the long-term financial return and avoided costs are much greater. These benefits increase when factoring in environmental and social benefits, such as healthier, more equitable and vibrant communities and the protection of cultural heritage and human life.
- What progress has been made on the HalifACT plan?
The HalifACT – Acting on Climate Together: 2021-2022 Annual Report stressed that increased efforts will be required by the municipality and others to achieve our climate objectives. At the time of reporting, work on 30 of 46 HalifACT actions had begun, but only five were reported to be on track and adequately resourced.
The latest details on the status of HalifACT actions are summarized in the HalifACT Shared Accountability Reference Document.
- What other municipal initiatives are related to climate action and HalifACT?
HalifACT is interrelated with many other municipal plans and initiatives. Some examples include:
- installing over $20 million in solar systems to date through the Solar City Program
- constructing the Regional Centre All-Ages-and-Abilities Cycling Network through the Integrated Mobility Plan
- Transforming Transit projects that include new electric busses, Bus Rapid Transit and new ferry routes
- developing the Cogswell District Project, which will provide green energy through a district energy system that uses heat recovered from the Halifax Wastewater Treatment Plan
- protecting nature, enhancing ecosystem functions and increasing green space through the Green Network Plan and the Urban Forest Master Plan
- strengthening the municipality’s local food system through the JustFOOD Action Plan (a partnership between the municipality and the Halifax Food Policy Alliance)
- How was HalifACT developed and who has been involved?
HalifACT was developed by municipal staff, members of the municipality’s climate action community, technical modelling and analysis and public engagement.
Stakeholder engagement and public consultation is important for evaluating the complex issue of climate change and finding solutions. The HalifACT team held meetings in 2019 with over 250 internal and external stakeholders, including all levels of government, utilities, non-profits and advocacy groups, academic institutions, educators, industry, Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian communities, Acadian groups, youth and more.
To assist in the development of HalifACT, the municipality contracted Sustainable Solutions Group (SSG), an environmental consulting company specializing in climate change mitigation and adaptation modelling. SSG developed a greenhouse gas inventory, a low-carbon scenario, an actions catalogue and an adaptation report.
Public engagement focused on raising awareness about climate change, the actions required and the collective action needed for success. The HalifACT project team also conducted more than 35 informal “pop-up” events throughout the municipality during the summer and fall of 2019.
- What role does the municipality have in HalifACT?
Municipalities across the country own 60 per cent of public infrastructure in Canada, therefore, municipalities have a significant role to play in investing in solutions to protect Canadians from current and future climate impacts.
The Halifax Regional Municipality has taken a leadership role by creating the HalifACT plan. Targets and actions will need to be implemented across many organizations in the community and by residents. The HalifACT plan will also be used to inform other official municipal plans and policies, including updates to the Regional Plan.
The municipality maintains a network that includes over 100 organizations ranging from government and businesses to academic institutions, NGOs and community organizations.
The municipality is now working with community stakeholders (including all levels of government, utilities, non-profits and advocacy groups, academic institutions, educators, industry, Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian communities, Acadian groups, youth and more).
- What role do residents have in HalifACT?
HalifACT is a plan to help every community, and every individual in the municipality, take appropriate action to respond to climate change. It is about preventing loss, cutting emissions, saving money and strengthening communities.
HalifACT is meant to be a collaborative process that encompasses municipal government and community-based efforts. The plan encourages every individual to be aware of, and respond to, climate change however they can. Only by acting together can the targets outlined in the HalifACT plan be achieved.
Residents are invited to join the HalifACT movement and are invited to visit the Taking Action web page.
- How do we track greenhouse gas inventories?
Corporate emissions are emissions resulting from municipal operations such as outdoor and street lighting, municipal fleet vehicles and municipally owned buildings.
Community emissions would include emissions resulting from all other energy use within communities across the municipality. Examples include homes, commercial buildings, heating and cooling, appliances and transportation.