Who Does What Report | 2022

The Municipal Role in Climate Policy

Climate change is a national and international issue. Nevertheless, municipalities around the world have cemented themselves as key players in reducing emissions and adapting to the increase in extreme weather events.

The third report in the Who Does What series from Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG) and Urban Policy Lab focuses on the role of Canadian municipalities play in the fight against climate change, and how that role can complement and be supported by other orders of government.

Jennifer Winter notes that municipalities have limited direct control over emissions within their boundaries, but can have large indirect effects due to their substantial populations. She lays out a series of policies that municipalities can work toward – both independently and in cooperation with other orders of government – from buildings to transportation, waste to land use.

Elliott Cappell argues that, when it comes to enhancing climate resilience, Canadian municipalities are often both too big and too small: too big to tackle hyper-local issues but too small to address issues at scale. He argues for ways municipalities can break down silos to better confront the climate challenge, and how the provinces and federal government can best support municipal action.

Sadhu Johnston concludes with six recommendations to all orders of government that would help improve action and collaboration in climate policy. The recommendations range from addressing the skills gap at the municipal level through a climate education program to implementing provincial mandates requiring municipal climate plans and enhancing intergovernmental cooperation.

Read the paper

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