You’ve heard us say it before, whenever people ask us what they can do about climate change. We always come back to three main ways you can have an impact:
- Net Zero your home – in 2020, 46% of Ottawa’s community greenhouse gas emissions were produced by homes and buildings, that’s why home energy efficiency matters!
- Net Zero your transportation – in 2020, 42% of greehouse gas emissions in Ottawa came from transportation, which is why we need to move away from gas powered vehicles and car centric transportation systems.
- Push for systemic change by advocating for funding and policies that take action on climate! According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, our local governments have influence over 50% of GHG emissions in Canada; from transit to land use planning to waste reduction to climate change.
Right now in Ottawa, the best way to push for systemic change is by engaging in the local municipal elections. On October 24th, we’ll be voting in a new Mayor, City Councillors and school board trustees the English and French public school boards and the English and French Catholic school boards. The candidates we elect to represent us have major influence over the scale and pace of progress for the environment over the next four years.
So What Can You Do?
Get informed about the candidates’ climate platforms!
Explore the frontrunning mayoral candidates’ climate platforms here:
- Catherine McKenney
- Mark Sutcliffe
- The full list of mayoral candidates and their platforms can be found here.
Find out who is running for councillor in your ward, who is running for school board trustee, and what they stand for here!
Let them know about the issues you care about!
Attend local election debates, like the upcoming Centretown Mayoral Eco-Debate on September 28th, or reach out directly to the candidates whose platforms you like and ask them questions on key priority areas for climate action in our city.
Here are some examples of questions you could ask them:
- What level of funding are you willing to support to help Ottawa reach our climate targets?
- Will you support transportation strategies that prioritize public and active transportation over car-culture, and support a best-in-class zero-carbon transportation system for Ottawa?
- Will you support bylaws that require carbon disclosure, both in homes and businesses?
- Will you help ensure Ottawa meets our target of 2 billion trees planted by 2030?
- Will you advocate for responsible development that effectively limits expansion into the green spaces upon which our city relies for cooling, water absorption, and clean air?
- Will you ensure that the climate policies and programs you implement are inclusive, accessible and aim to rectify existing social injustices in our city?
Check out the Climate Election Campaign run by our friends at Ecology Ottawa for more ideas about what a better, greener Ottawa could look like!
Advocate for the Candidates You Support!
Once you have decided who you think will take the best action on climate, advocate for them! By encouraging conversations about the topics that matter to us about our city, we are helping to build a better city where decision makers are aware of the views, values, and concerns of the people they represent.
Voter turnout at Ontario’s last municipal election in 2018 was at an all-time low – only 38% of the population cast ballots. In Ottawa’s 2018 election voter turnout for the mayoral elections was just 43%. Encouraging folks to vote is one way we can ensure that more people’s voices are heard!
A few ways you can do this are – get a lawn sign or endorse your chosen candidate on social media, talk to your friends, support your candidate with a donation or organize a fundraiser to support them!
Cast Your Ballot on October 24th!
Make sure you get out and vote for your preferred candidates on October 24th, and encourage your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues to cast their ballots too!
And finally, your advocacy and involvement doesn’t have to end when the election is over – check out the Infiltration Manual, a fantastic resource by our friends at Youth Climate Lab which provides an overview and guidance on how to push for ambitious climate action at the municipal level.