What is climate change?

    Climate change refers to changes in long-term weather patterns caused by natural phenomena and human activities that alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere through the build-up of greenhouse gases which trap heat and reflect it back to the earth’s surface. To learn more about climate change visit www.hamilton.ca/climatechange

    What is a greenhouse gas (GHG)?

    A GHG (greenhouse gas) is any gas in the atmosphere that absorbs infrared radiation, thereby trapping and holding heat in the atmosphere. By increasing the heat in the atmosphere, GHGs lead to global warming. For more information visit DavidSuzuki.org

    What is climate change adaptation?

    Adaptation to climate change refers to any action or initiative taken that can help prepare, prevent or reduce the vulnerability of social, economic, built and natural systems to the changing climate conditions.

    What is climate change mitigation?

    Climate change mitigation refers to the actions we can take to stabilize or reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These could include establishing policies, programs and undertaking actions that promote or require certain practices that reduce energy use and GHG emissions.  Actions could include taking active or public transportation, buying an electric vehicle, building energy efficient buildings, retrofitting existing buildings, etc.

    What are the main sources of GHGs in our city?

    The three largest sources of emissions in Hamilton are:

    • Industry at approximately 64% 
    • Transportation at approximately 19%
    • Buildings (commercial and residential) approximately 14%

    How have we done so far in reducing GHGs in our City?

    Hamilton has been tracking community GHG emission sources since 2006. It is estimated that as of 2017 Hamilton had reduced its emissions by approximately 33% from its 2006 baseline. This however is mainly due to the provincial government decision on phasing out coal within Ontario’s electricity grid and remains the largest reduction in GHG emissions across the Province.

    What is City Council’s Climate Change Emergency declaration?

    City Council’s Climate Change Emergency Declaration re-affirms the City’s commitment to fighting climate change. City Council ratified the climate change emergency declaration on March 27, 2019 and directed staff to form a cross-department Corporate Climate Change Task Force and to identify and investigate actions to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

    Read the emergency declaration on Page 13 of the Council Minutes of March 27, 2019 - Accelerating and Prioritizing Climate Action in Response to the Climate Emergency 

    How does the Community Energy and Emissions Plan fit in with Hamilton’s overall climate change goals?

    Hamilton is in the process of completing a climate adaptation plan, with the intent of preparing the city for future climatic events and changes. Adaptation and mitigation actions work hand in hand. The Community Energy and Emissions Plan will provide a long-term climate mitigation plan to reduce Hamilton’s GHG emissions, and as a result, reduce its contribution to global climate change.

    What other climate change related plans does Hamilton have?

    Please refer to the ‘Documents and Reports’ section of the City’s Community Energy and Emissions Plan webpage.