Ecology Ottawa Delegates on the CCMP Audit

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Our Program Coordinator William van Geest delegated to Council's Audit Committee at their June 10 meeting on the City's Climate Changer Master Plan (CCMP) audit to both expressed our support of the audit and addressed some of its shortcomings. (To learn more about the CCMP Audit, check out our summary.) Please read our delegation below, or simply watch it here.

The audit comes to full Council on June 25. Please tune in to that meeting—and in the meantime, contact your councillor to express your support for decisive climate action in Ottawa!

 

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Thank you for the opportunity to address you. I'm doing so on behalf of Ecology Ottawa.

We’re grateful for an audit of the Climate Change Master Plan. To implement a plan properly, it’s imperative to have occasional checks—and there are few issues of greater concern than climate change. If anything, we would prefer more reporting: the greenhouse gas inventories, for example, are overdue, as the audit itself acknowledges. Moreover, we haven’t yet seen a CCMP update on 2023, and it’s already June. So again, this audit is welcome, even if it has shortcomings, some of which I’ll mention.

But first to the audit’s content. It confirms things that Ecology Ottawa has been saying.

One thing is lack of funding. We delegated to the Environment and Climate Change Committee last November to ask for increased CCMP funding. The $5 million in the City’s last two budgets, while a start, is far too little. While there have been other investments into specific parts of the plan, like electric buses, many of these investments are one-time—and even with these investments, we couldn’t be remotely close to the $687 million annually that the plan calls for. 

This brings up one of the audit’s shortcomings: we shouldn’t need to imagine how we’re doing with investments. These numbers should be in the audit. This is particularly relevant given that CCMP spending will ultimately yield substantial savings: net annual savings and revenues were supposed to exceed annual investments already in 2032, with a net community-wide return of $87.7 billion by 2050. Are we on track with these projections? We’ve seen no evidence that we are—but we just don’t know. And not knowing this means we don’t know what’s necessary to catch up, or the significantly greater investments we’ll eventually have to pay reactively because we didn’t spend proactively.

The audit also observed a “misalignment” between the CCMP and Council’s desires. This partly relates to Council’s decision last December—one that staff and groups like Ecology Ottawa opposed—to focus our efforts on corporate emissions, even though they’re only 4% of our total emissions. It’s no wonder management thinks we won’t meet our community emissions targets—the other 96%.

However, the audit didn’t observe the misalignment between Council’s will and the public. Ottawans strongly support climate action. For example, our petition on climate action last summer, as wildfire smoke blanketed our city, received 1,200 signatures, and another 600 emails were sent to Mayor Sutcliffe and councillors. Moreover, the motion I just mentioned was walked on, which means that Ottawans had no opportunity to address the committee on it. 

Still with the misalignment between Council and the public, it’s strange that the audit took the Term of Council Priorities as its reference point, since they incorporated no public input whatsoever. The reference point should have been the Official Plan, which involved extensive public consultation, and even the Province’s approval.

Further to the Term of Council Priorities, we believe the audit interprets one aspect incorrectly. It observes that the Priorities don’t mention GHG mitigation, only climate adaptation. But the Priorities call for a “Green and Resilient” city, and “green” here must imply GHG mitigation.* To be sure, this is partly the fault of the Priorities, which should be using precise language. We’re concerned that if the audit’s interpretation of the Priorities is permitted, it could be an excuse to not mitigate GHGs—which is of course a crucial part of climate action. So I would ask that staff confirm that “green” in the Priorities indeed includes “mitigation.”

Finally, management’s response to the audit’s seven recommendations: these are unacceptably slow. We’re to expect a governance framework in Q4 of this year, a prioritization framework by Q2 of next year, and a funding and resourcing strategy by Q4 of next year. This does not, I think you’ll agree, align with the climate emergency that Council declared in 2019. We urge action commensurate with the severe threat that climate change poses.

Thank you for your attention.

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* This is an error on our part; the audit states that "there is no reference to community emission reductions and limited community related actions," with an emphasis on community, not emission reductions. For the Term of Council Priorities, see this pdf.

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