Climate Change

The world is heating up, weather patterns are shifting as climate change drives an uncertain future.

Weather is changing, becoming more unpredictable and creating new challenges such as flooding and droughts. The City of St. Catharines has recognized it has a part to play, as we all do, in combating human-driven climate change, and declared a Climate Emergency in 2019.

Climate Action in your City

Everyone has a role to play in stopping climate change, and in preparing for its possible effects. The City of St. Catharines is taking steps on both fronts to ensure a sustainable future for its residents. Environmental Stewardship is a core pillar of our strategic plan. We're working on innovative, sustainable approaches to mitigate the causes of climate change, and adapt to the impacts of it.

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Local impacts

Climate change will impact areas across Canada and around the globe differently. Here in Niagara projections predict more heat, more precipitation and more extreme weather.

More Heat

Rising general temperatures and increasing heatwaves means we need to protect staff working outdoors and the public. Programs and services, such as cooling centres, offering heat relief will need to continue, alongside the exploration of new programming or locations.

Heat doesn’t just impact individuals. With heat comes drought, and current commitments to increasing the urban tree canopy, alongside planting of native, drought-resistant plants will keep our city green.

More precipitation

Precipitation is expected to increase in all seasons but the summer, and with increases comes the risk of flooding. More precipitation necessitates more investments in stormwater infrastructure, as well as engaging the public on ways they can make a difference and reduce stormwater runoff at home.

Natural assets, such as local watercourses and Lake Ontario, also need to be focussed on, with efforts to protect shorelines, prevent erosion and protect public safety.

More extreme weather

Past extreme weather events that happened rarely are predicted to increase in frequency and intensity. Ensuring municipal operations and communication plans are in place to address these events with effective response procedures is a priority for the City. Essential services delivered by the City should be able to continue even through an extreme event to increase municipal resilience.

 Mitigation

Mitigation is focused on the reduction and prevention of Greenhouse Gas emissions, alongside other efforts, to reduce the rate of climate change.

 

To date the City has:

  • Declared a Climate Emergency
  • Joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Committed to a 30 per cent reduction in energy use, and a 45 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 through its Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan
  • Committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050
  • So far, the City has decreased energy use in municipal buildings and operations by 15 per cent, and greenhouse gas emission by 25 per cent since 2011
  • Reduced energy use for streetlights by 62 per cent through LED retrofits
  • Installed an electric vehicle charging station at City Hall
  • Eliminated the use of disposable water bottles, straws and other single-use plastics at City facilities
  • Introduced hybrid vehicles to the City fleet, with 10 such vehicles currently in service
  • Built with sustainability in mind, the St. Catharines Kiwanis Aquatics Centre was built to Silver Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design (LEED) standards, utilizing technologies such as roof rainwater collection for toilet flushing and site irrigation; the use of natural and renewable materials; and use of natural light

 Adaptation

 Adaptation is aimed at reducing the consequences of climate change by responding proactively towards associated impacts, risks and vulnerabilities. Despite our efforts to reduce carbon pollution, we need to ensure we are prepared for the impacts of a changing global climate.

To date the City has:

  • Developed a corporate Climate Adaptation Plan, guiding City investments and actions to offset the impacts of climate change.
  • Partnered with Brock University on a collaborative-based climate adaptation project called Niagara Adapts, working with the university and Niagara municipalities to support collaborative climate adaptation planning
  • Constructed a wetland in the area of Pelham Street and Louth Street to reduce flooding and pollution
  • Invested in shoreline protection at Abbey Mews and Shore Boulevard to prevent erosion resulting from high Lake Ontario water levels
  • Installed permeable pavement at the Lake Street Service Centre to prevent surface water flooding and prevent the flow of pollution into local waterways
  • Moved forward on emergency planning, from helping residents prepare for emergencies to regularly updating the City’s Emergency Plan
  • Implemented an Urban Forestry Management Plan, and related outreach such as the Annual Tree Giveaway
  • Undertaken efforts in flood management and response, such as the Flood Alleviation Program and homeowner outreach with Annual Rain Barrel Sale

What You Can Do

There are a myriad of ways residents can do their part in the fight against climate change. From driving less to reduce emissions to choosing meals based on their carbon footprint, taking action in mitigating climate change is easy.

Earth Day

The City is celebrating Earth Day with some fun, eco-friendly activities residents of all ages can enjoy at home. Join Environmental Technician Mackenzie Kretz to learn how to start a garden from kitchen scraps and seeds; create a pine cone / toilet paper roll bird feeder; or even create a bee hotel for your garden.

Join Horticultural Technician Ilyse Norton for some pointers on how to plant a tree at home.

Kitchen Scrap Gardening

Join Mackenzie as she demonstrates how to start a garden from scrap bits of onion, carrots and more. It's a chance to reduce kitchen waste, and strengthen that green thumb while you are at it.

Bird Feeders at Home

Use household materials such as toilet paper rolls, plastic bags and peanut butter, alongside seeds from your garden to create a bird feeder with Mackenzie. Bring birds to your garden, and help control pest insects.

Build a Bee Hotel

Build a bee hotel for your garden from household materials and easy-to-find natural items. Create a space for native pollinators to nest, and watch your garden bloom.

Plant a Tree at Home

Have a tree ready to plant at home? Horticultural Technician Ilyse Norton will walk you through the process of planting the tree, ensuring it has the best start at growing strong and healthy for years to come.

 Food

By thinking of the emission impacts the production of their food entails, residents can make conscious choices to limit the impact of their diet on the climate and environment. Residents can be climate conscious in the kitchen by:

  • Reducing food waste

  • Eating more plants and less meats that are carbon-intensive to produce

  • Growing fruits and vegetables at home or in a community garden

  • Canning and preserving foods to limit waste

  • Using reusable bags for their groceries and other shopping; keeping a re-usable bag in their purse or car to reduce your single use plastic consumption

  • Purchasing food products with less packaging

  • Using a compost bin

  • Using re-usable containers instead of disposable plastic bags for lunches and leftovers

 Transportation

On the way to work, school or just out and about for some weekend fun, simple changes in the way residents get around can make a dent in the fight against climate change. Residents can:

  • Switch to hybrid or electric vehicles when they purchase their next vehicle

  • Carpool when possible

  • Use public transit

  • Bike to work or for errands

  • Avoid idling their vehicles or using drive-thrus

  • Adding errands and other stops to the route of their commute to reduce the number of driving trips

  • Maintain their vehicle, keeping vehicle tires properly inflated can boost mileage rates saving gas

 At Home

Changes, big and small, around the house can have their own impact in limiting emissions and reducing the impact of changing weather. Households can:

  • Upgrade incandescent light bulbs to LED lights
  • Upgrade to a programmable or smart thermostat to automatically adjust temperatures when not home
  • Have the furnace and air conditioner regularly serviced to maintain efficiency
  • Reduce water temperature and insulate their water heater
  • Upgrade old appliances to new energy efficient models
  • Use a rain barrel to prevent excess runoff into storm drains, in addition to using the water for their lawns and gardens
  • Plant native trees on their property to clean air pollution, provide shade and reduce heating / cooling costs
  • Recycle and donate clothing
  • Dispose of household waste and electronics (batteries, old paint, televisions) responsibly at waste collection centres
  • Purchase eco-friendly cleaning products to reduce indoor pollutants
  • Shop for natural fibres and fabrics such as cotton and hemp
  • Use natural products, such as wood, for construction

 Get Educated, Get Engaged

 A little education can go a long way. There are multiple opportunities to learn more about climate change and get involved. Individuals can:
  • Use an online tool to calculate a carbon footprint and identify ways to reduce it
  • Participate in environmental groups and events
  • Teachers can reach out to the City of St. Catharines for educational materials to better instruct their students on climate change
  • Check out our Children's Water Conservation Activity Book

What is Climate Change? 

Climate change, often associated with global warming, is a long-term shift in average weather conditions. Scientific consensus points to human beings as the drivers of a current increase in global temperatures.

 

The Cause

Greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, released by the burning of fossil fuels, trap the sun’s heat in Earth’s atmosphere. At the same time clear cutting of forests for agriculture has drastically impacted the planet’s ability to remove these gasses from the atmosphere.

The Impact

While these actions are causing the Earth’s average temperature to increase,  climate change won't necesarily result in higher temperatures everywhere. Weather systems will change leading to more unpredictable and extreme events such as flooding, drought, and severe winter weather.

Canada is warming at twice the rate as the rest of the world. In St. Catharines we will see an increase in temperature of three-degrees Celsius by 2050 if nothing is done to cut emissions. According to the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change a global increase of just 1.5-degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would have drastic and irreversible effects on our climate.

 

 

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