Health Topics

Climate Change

Climate change refers to the long-term change in average weather patterns resulting from the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere.

Cities are major contributors of greenhouse gases, or GHGs. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, cities are home to more than 50% of the world’s population, contribute to about 70% of worldwide emissions and use 2/3 of the total energy worldwide.  Urban households, industries, transportation and infrastructure within cities are key sources of greenhouse gases.

Human activities affect climate change by increasing GHGs, resulting in temperature change.  These temperature changes alter weather patterns.

Sources of greenhouse gases in Hamilton and Ontario

Sources of GHGs in Hamilton and Ontario include:

  • Burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas in energy consumption; for heating and cooling, lighting and powering electronics; and transportation
  • Transportation - from cars and trucks, transport trucks and airplanes
  • Industrial processes and manufacturing
  • Waste management
  • Agricultural management and processes

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions helps conserve our energy supply, improves air quality and reduces their effect on climate change and ecosystems.

Measuring greenhouse gases, also known as GHG’s, helps us understand and reduce climate change through prevention.  Natural ecosystems, resources and urban areas; our local manufacturing and service industries; planning and management of our local infrastructure  such as roads, water and sewer systems, gas and power lines; and  travel and the local tourism industry are all sensitive to climate change and weather.

Climate change is expected to:

  • Increase damage to infrastructure such as water, roads, energy and homes due to extreme weather events such as droughts, intense precipitation, extreme temperatures, high winds and severe storms
  • Increase the burden on insurance and reinsurance industries, resulting in increased liability costs or removal of coverage
  • Change food and water supplies by shifting rain patterns, soil moisture, water temperature and availability of nutrients
  • Increase rates of death and disease associated with extreme weather, poor air quality, insect-borne diseases and drought
  • Increase economic losses associated with extreme weather such as tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and snowstorms

Effects of climate change on health

Climate change is likely to have harmful effects on human health. The relationship between weather, climate and human health is both direct and indirect, because air quality is strongly influenced by weather and climate. Effects on human health include:

  • More severe respiratory disorders and allergies
  • More deaths due to extreme weather events
  • Greater infectious diseases
  • Increase in health disorders related to environmental contamination by bacteria, viruses and parasites

Municipal governments, including the City of Hamilton, have a key role in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

We committed to five milestones to guide how we reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Hamilton.

  1. Create a greenhouse gas emissions inventory
  2. Set a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target
  3. Develop an action plan
  4. Carry out the action plan
  5. Monitor progress and report results

These milestones are part of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Partners for Climate Protection program.  In 2012 the City of Hamilton achieved all of the milestones, and we continue to work towards reducing GHGs locally.

Progress toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions

  1. We completed a greenhouse gas emissions inventory in 2009, for City of Hamilton operations and in our community.
  2. We achieved our 2012 and 2020 emissions targets. New corporate emission targets are:
  • a 50% reduction of 2005 greenhouse gases levels by 2030
  • an 80% reduction of 2005 greenhouse gases levels by 2050

     Community targets are the same, with 2006 as the base year for emissions.

3. We developed the Corporate Air Quality & Climate Change Action Plan (PDF, 5 MB) in 2006 and the Corporate Air Quality and Climate Change Strategic Plan (PDF, 460 KB) in 2008. 

We developed a Community Climate Change Action Plan that focuses on:

  • adapting and preparing the community for the risks of climate change (e.g., more variable and extreme weather, more social and infrastructure stresses, infrastructure risks, insurance costs)
  • reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from community sources  including transportation, energy, institutional and commercial, industry and residential within and around Hamilton 

Review the draft action plan and provide comment.  Final action plans will be presented to Council and the public in October 2015.

  1. We are following the Corporate Air Quality and Climate Change Action Plan and the Corporate Air Quality and Climate Change Strategic Plan.
  2. We released corporate and community emissions reports from 2010 to 2013. View the Public Works Committee Report 14-010 (PDF, 354 KB)

Hamilton's municipal operations had an emissions decrease of 23% from 2005 to 2013. For the community, there was a 29% decrease in emissions from 2006 to 2012.  View Taking Stock: Hamilton's GHG Emissions.

We have developed a Community Climate Change Action PlanJoin the conversation and provide your feedback

Check us out on Twitter @ClimateConvo or use #ClimateHamOnt.

Here are some things you can do about climate change:

  1. Take personal action against climate change.  Climate Change Hamilton provides information on how you can take action.
  2. Join the conversation and provide feedback on the Community Climate Change Action Plan.
  3. Endorse the Hamilton Community Climate Change Action Charter, a voluntary agreement that asks for a commitment from individuals, organizations and businesses of all types and sizes in Hamilton to take action on climate change locally.
  4. Take a photo of what you are doing or seeing locally about climate change and share it on the Hamilton Climate Change Action Map.
  5. Join a climate change group such as Green Venture, Environment Hamilton, Dundas In Transition or Clean Air Hamilton to reduce climate change in our community.
  6. Talk to youth, seniors, school councils, faith groups, businesses, hospital and education administrators, employees, parents, neighbourhood associations, teachers and Hamilton residents about climate change.
  7. Work with others in the community to take action such as hosting a climate change roundtable or doing presentations to community groups

Contact us

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