Welcome to the latest edition of our e-newsletter, Briefing Notes, a monthly compilation of news, articles and reports covering the issues and trends shaping our communities.
Hello everyone, 

With the Paris climate talks (COP21) around the corner, we are dedicating this issue of our monthly e-newsletter to climate action.

There is much hope for the climate discussions in Paris, despite the horrific terror attacks. If anything, this may strengthen all of our resolve to replace the expiring 1990 Kyoto agreement—the world’s first emission reduction treaty—with a new global agreement on climate change.

As Canadians, we are ready to stand proud in the U.N. corridors, especially with our new federal government, a new environment & climate change minister, and a historic climate change policy for Alberta.  We are poised to recoup some of our cherished international leadership role on the environment.  Having gone from leader to laggard in the last decade --- a Climate Action Tracker analysis this spring put us at 58th of 60 countries -- there is definitely work ahead.

Everyone from multilaterals like the U.N., governments like Canada, and provinces like Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan (highlighted below) has a role to play in fighting climate change.

So do local governments, whose decisions impact, either directly or indirectly, up to 45% of green house gas emissions.

I’ll be part of the civil society presence in Paris for the climate discussions.  I’ll be sure to share updates when I return, but in the meantime, please look out for us on Twitter (@CBColumbia) and Facebook!

All of us can be part of the conversation on how climate action is an integral part of building inclusive, sustainable and healthy cities.

Thanks for all you do.
Charley Beresford
Executive Director


Cities take the lead on climate change

350+ cities now committed to the  Compact of Mayors, a global coalition of mayors pledging to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions, enhance resilience to climate change & report transparently. This is just another example of how cities are leading on climate change. Kudos to Vancouver, Victoria and Surrey! Learn more

Municipalities play key role in climate-change fight (Opinion: Raymond Louie)

“Canada is back”. Like many Canadians, I was happy to hear new Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna use those words to describe her government’s commitment to international leadership on climate change prevention. Read more

Cities must take lead role in tackling climate change, says Mexico City mayor

Miguel Angel Mancera says countries should change direction and look to cities for inspiration – while revealing plans for a new water fund to address his city’s major shortages. Read more

Six ways climate change is getting personal in Atlantic Canada

Climate change is hitting home across Atlantic Canada, whether you love birds, build homes, host tourists, or just worry your back is about to give out from all that snow shovelling. Read more


Alberta unveils new climate change policy

Alberta's NDP government announced its new climate change strategy earlier this week, which includes a carbon tax for individuals, a cap on oilsands emissions and fast tracks the elimination of coal fired power plants. Read more

Ontario releases new climate change strategy

Province charts course to a prosperous, low-carbon future. Learn more

SaskPower to use wind, solar, geothermal to hit 50% renewable mark by 2030

Saskatchewan's power company confirmed early this week that it will double the percentage of electrical renewable energy used in the province by 2030, 15 years from now. Read more


Canada welcomes new climate change minister

A new federal government offers Canada the chance to show the international community that it is now serious about climate change. Nowhere is that clearer than with the appointment of Canada’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna. Read more 

Climate change is the ‘worst threat we are facing this century’: Stephane Dion

Canada’s foreign affairs minister, Stephane Dion, said that climate change is the “worst threat we are facing this century,” and that current emissions-reduction targets from major emitters don’t go far enough. Full article


690 million children at risk from climate change: UNICEF

An additional 160 million kids are growing up in areas suffering severe droughts, mostly in Africa, UNICEF said in "Unless We Act Now." Read more

Paris climate summit: 'The world is ready for change' (Opinion: Christiana Figueres)

The political will to act on climate has arrived. We will look back at Paris as a turning point of this century towards a brighter future. Read more

Why a climate deal with the best hope for peace (Opinion: Jason Box & Naomi Klein)

A climate summit taking place against the backdrop of climate-fueled violence and migration can only be relevant if its central goal is the creation of conditions for lasting peace. That would mean making legally enforceable commitments to leave the vast majority of known fossil-fuel reserves in the ground. Read more

Yes, the Paris climate change conference can save the planet (Opinion: Ed Miliband)

2015 looks like it’ll be the hottest year on record – or its highest in three million years. The effects of the warming are already here, highlighting that we must move to zero emissions. This can be done without closing down our economy. Read more


Flashback to Copenhagen: The Hook Blog

Columbia Institute Executive Director Charley Beresford attended the Copenhagen summit in December 2009 as an observer and captured the experience in a daily blog for The Tyee.

Cities at centre of energy revolution: Stern Read more

Conference reaches capacity as clock winds down Read more

Police, demonstrators flood the streets of Copenhagen Read more

World youth push for a 'real deal' Read more

Climate Tracker

Take a look at “Climate Tracker,” an independent science-based assessment, which tracks the emission commitments and actions of countries. As you’ll see, Canada is not doing its fair share. Canada is the 10th largest emmiter of GHG’s, yet ranks only 58th in the Climate Change performance Index from Germanwatch. Learn more


Are you looking for background research and context on all things climate change? If so, take a look at our climate change series.

Act Locally: Municipal Role in Fighting Climate Change (Prepared for FCM)

Municipalities can play a key role in helping Canada meet commitments for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions. This paper summarizes what municipalities have accomplished with GHG emission reduction and plans for the future. Read report

About the Columbia Institute

The Columbia Institute is a Vancouver-based, Canada-focused public policy think-tank with a mission to foster inclusive, sustainable communities. This work is rooted in our belief that communities who value social justice, the environment and local economy are healthier, happier places to live. Our programs focus on Civic Governance, Leadership Initiatives, Responsible Investment, and capacity building through scholarships. Registered in 2000, the Institute is a charitable organization. www.columbiainstitute.ca/ 

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