Cities Changing the World

Canadian cities Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto are among a group of 120+ cities worldwide that are leading, championing and delivering on stepped up climate action plans.

Toronto photo credit Andrew


C40 formed in 2016 as an international group of city mayors determined to be an integral part of the solution to the global climate change problem.

“C40 Cities are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly and provide proven models that other cities and national governments can adopt.”

Excerpts from the C40 knowledge hub website explain “Why Cities?”

“In terms of size, cities occupy only two percent of the world’s landmass. But in terms of climate impact, they leave an enormous footprint. Cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions. And with 90 percent of the world’s urban areas situated on coastlines, cities are at high risk from some of the devastating impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels and powerful flooding.”

“We have reached a defining moment for our planet. To achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and avoid catastrophic climate change we need to act faster and with more urgency than ever before. Fortunately, mayors of the world’s leading cities have emerged as strong and inspiring champions of the kind of ambitious climate action the world needs. Cities know what needs to be done to limit global heating to 1.5° Celsius, and they know that achieving this climate-safe future is only possible if we act now and in collaboration with other levels of government, businesses, civil society and citizens.”

“Cities can help nations achieve their Paris Agreement commitment by supporting the implementation of transformational actions to increase the supply of renewable energy, improve building energy efficiency, increase access to affordable, low carbon transport options, and change consumption patterns.”

Winter Trees photo credit Lucy

Here is a whirl around the world by scrolling through the list of impressive company that Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto are keeping via the C40 global network:

East, Southeast Asia and Oceania

  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Quezon City, Philippines
  • Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • Singapore, Singapore
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Yokohama, Japan


  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Athens, Greece
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Heidelberg, Germany
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Milan, Italy
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Oslow, Norway
  • Paris, France
  • Rome, Italy
  • Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Tel Aviv-Yafa, Israel
  • Venice, Italy
  • Warsaw, Poland

Latin America

Quartz photo credit Lucy
  • Bogata, Columbia
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Cuucitiba, Brazil
  • Guadalajara, Mexico
  • Lima, Peru
  • Medlin, Columbia
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Salvador, Brazil
  • Santiago, Chile
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil

North America

  • Austin, United States
  • Boston, United States
  • Chicago, United States
  • Houston, United States
  • Los Angeles, United States
  • Miami, United States
  • Montreal, Canada
  • New Orleans, United States
  • New York, United States
  • Philadelphia, United States
  • Phoenix, United States
  • Portland, United States
  • San Francisco, United States
  • Seattle, United States
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Vancouver, Canada
  • Washington, D.C., United States

South and West Asia

  • Amman, Jordan
  • Chenhai, India
  • Delhi NCT, India
  • Dhaka North, Bangladesh
  • Dhaka South, Bangladesh
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Karachi, Pakistan
  • Kolkata, India

Showcasing Climate Action Plans

The report, Cities leading the way: Seven climate action plans to deliver on the Paris Agreement, showcases seven cities with climate action plans that put the city on a path to become emissions neutral by 2050 and more resilient to the impacts of climate change. All seven climate action plans have been deemed compatible with the C40 Cities Climate Action Planning Framework, which sets out the essential components of a climate action plan to deliver low-carbon resilient development consistent with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Lucy feeds a black capped chickadee Photo credit Allan

“Climate Change is one of the greatest challenges mankind has ever faced. In this ongoing race against time, the cities of the world have a key role to play – both as pioneers and prescribers.” “To achieve this, it is crucial to involve all territorial stakeholders – public and private entities, associations and citizens. Such is the challenge if we want to meet the targets set in the Paris Agreement at COP21.” Anne Hidalgo Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40.

By 2050, over 65% of the world’s population will live in cities2. As centres of population, consumption, buildings and transport infrastructure, cities present a unique opportunity to accelerate the transition to low carbon resilient systems.”

“The focus of the case studies are:

1. Barcelona: Putting climate justice and citizen action at the heart of climate action planning

2. Copenhagen: Achieving a carbon neutral city by 2025

3. London: Zero carbon transport network and clean air for Londoners

4. New York City: Accelerating and prioritising transformational action

5. Oslo: Implementing climate budgets

6. Paris: A fair, equitable and resilient transition to carbon neutrality by 2050

7. Stockholm: Achieving a fossil-fuel free city by 2040”

2025 is almost here – Just imagine Copenhagen achieving its target of being carbon neutral within the next five years and sharing its blueprint for success with others!

Looking Deeper

Whitemud Ravine photo credit Lucy

Curious about what a model city climate action plan looks like?

Paris action plan synthesis report –


“Long before the Conference of Parties in Paris 2015 (COP21), the City of Copenhagen had created and implemented an agreement to achieve carbon neutrality. This included an initial 20% CO2 reduction target for 2015 from 2005 levels, with a longer-term goal of becoming the first carbon neutral capital by 2025. The City has developed a pathway to deliver an emissions neutral city by 2025, assuming its share of responsibility for climate change. The CPH 2025 Climate Plan was adopted by the City Council on 2012. It reflects the decision to make the city carbon neutral by 2025, combining growth with development and increasing the quality of life for citizens while simultaneously reducing GHG emissions.”

“The CPH 2025 Climate Plan is based on four pillars: energy consumption, energy production, mobility, and city administration initiatives, and is being implemented in three phases, the first of which came to an end in 2016. After each phase, an evaluation is conducted, the results of which will determine what is done in the following period. The overall objectives will remain the same, however. A roadmap from 2016 outlines what will happen in the second phase, from 2017 to 2020. The roadmap describes 60 initiatives which correspond with the main priorities for the four pillars.”

Climate Change Threats to Canadian Cities

From The Climate Atlas, we learned the importance of disaster planning, modern climate resilient urban infrastructure, and, preparing for increasing heat waves, for Canadian cities going forward:

“Sadhu Johnston, Vancouver’s city manager, has spent many years doing hands-on work in urban sustainability in the USA and Canada. He says that facing up to the reality of climate change is vital for city planning and city living: ‘Change is happening, and we need to be prepared for that change.’ ”

“Over 80 percent of Canadians live in cities and towns. The dense concentration of people, government, business, infrastructure, and economic resources in urban areas makes them uniquely vulnerable to the growing risks of a warming world. This same density also makes cities a powerful source of resilience and resourcefulness when it comes to taking action on climate change.”

Urban Infrastructure

Photo credit Lucy

“City life is highly dependent on services such as electrical power, drinking water, and transportation. All of these everyday necessities are vulnerable to changes in climate.”

“On Canada’s coasts, cities are vulnerable to rising sea levels, which bring with them the threat of flooding as well as more destructive storms and damaging waves [5]. Inland, changes in weather patterns and extremes could threaten cities with both too much water (in the form of overland or flash flooding) and too little water (in the form of extended periods of drought).”

“Communities in the north face a particularly difficult problem: they rely on stable, frozen permafrost for building and road construction. Global warming has already affected permafrost stability across the north, and continued warming will severely challenge municipal infrastructure and the roads, rail lines, and airports that provide essential links between the north and the rest of Canada [6].”

Ogilvie Ridge Edmonton photo credit Lucy

“Newly proposed design standards have started to take climate change into account, but have yet to be made an essential part of most urban planning. And of course existing structures and transportation links will require increased maintenance and extensive retrofitting to face the new climate reality.”

“Modern, climate-friendly approaches to designing and building these systems can reduce climate vulnerability while at the same time saving money, improving quality of life, and building more resilient communities.”

“Read in more detail about urban infrastructure issues in our report on urban resilience and the built environment.”

Disaster Planning

“The 2013 floods in Calgary, the 2016 fires in Fort McMurray and the 2017 floods in southern Quebec demonstrated how incredibly expensive and damaging large-scale disasters can be for cities and the heavy toll they can take on residents.”

“Climate change means that we face a higher risk of more severe and more frequent disaster-level weather events such as floods and wildfires. It also increases the chance that multiple disasters could occur in a single season. The changing climate makes weather more variable as well as more extreme, which makes planning for disasters–and responding to them–much harder [1].”

Planning for Heat Waves

Fall Colors photo credit Christine

“Climate models indicate that many of Canada’s cities will experience dramatic increases in the number of hot days and nights as the climate continues to warm. These changes put city dwellers at a higher risk for heat stroke and heat exhaustion [2]. Toronto counsellor Gord Perks notes that ‘We’ve been lucky so far that we haven’t had a deadly heatwave, but that’s a likely thing that will happen.’ ”

“The prospect of dangerously hot weather in Canada’s cities means we need to follow Toronto’s lead in planning for heat waves: the city uses a heat warning system to alerts the population to elevated risk and operates a network of cooling centres to offer relief to vulnerable citizens.”

Taking Action – Vancouver

In addition to checking out Paris’ and Copenhagen’s climate action plans, closer to home, Canadian Readers may be interested to learn more about Vancouver’s plan to become “the greenest city in the world”.

From, we learned that:

Vancouver B.C. photo credit Lucy

“Modern urban life in Canada is sustained by high-carbon sources of energy that cause global warming: we rely on fossil fuels for transportation, and much of our electrical power is generated by gas, oil, and coal. Given that over 80% of Canadians live in cities, efforts to reduce urban energy consumption while transitioning to renewable energy will have a dramatic impact on Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Transforming our energy systems has all kinds of advantages over and above helping with climate change. Climate-friendly energy systems will generate less pollution, provide more security, cause less environmental damage, and offer better quality of life. Johnston notes that ‘Vancouver is demonstrating to the world that cities can drive down carbon, and by doing so become more competitive and continue to grow.’ He warns that ‘many people think there’s this dichotomy: that it’s either the environment and carbon reduction or the economy. There is a third way, and that’s bringing those two together and growing a green economy.’ ”

Vancouver has made climate action a municipal priority as part of its commitment to become the “greenest city in the world”: Here’s Vancouver’s 5-minute videoclip:

For Readers who want all the details, check out Vancouver’s 371 page report:

Taking Personal Action

Photo credit Lucy

“Canadians who live in cities can take action on climate change on a personal level by making energy efficient choices and planning ahead for the most likely impacts of climate change where they live. Collectively, we can support and demand climate action from our business and political leaders, who have the power to make larger-scale change. ‘Ultimately we all have to be a part of the solution,’ Sadhu Johnston says, ‘and by doing it we’re healthier and happier people with greater communities.’ ”

Learn more about Canadian cities and climate change at:

What is a 15-Minute City?

Carlos Moreno developed the 15-minute city concept in Paris and is a driving force behind its uptake in Paris and beyond. Watch his short TED talk here.

“A 15-minute city vision is usually established at the mayoral (or equivalent) level and can be linked to a transit-oriented development plan, urban development plan or equivalent land-use plan. Taking a participatory, inclusive approach to this process is important to ensure the plan is grounded in the city’s realities and has a broad base of support.”

We learn from Paris, how to Build Back Better with a 15-minute city:

“In a ‘15-minute city’, everyone is able to meet most, if not all, of their needs within a short walk or bike ride from their home. It is a city composed of lived-in, people-friendly, ‘complete’ and connected neighbourhoods. It means reconnecting people with their local areas and decentralising city life and services. As cities work towards COVID-19 recovery, the 15-minute city is more relevant than ever as an organising principle for urban development. It will help cities to revive urban life safely and sustainably in the wake of COVID-19 and offers a positive future vision that mayors can share and build with their constituents. More specifically, it will help to reduce unnecessary travel across cities, provide more public space, inject life into local high streets, strengthen a sense of community, promote health and wellbeing, boost resilience to health and climate shocks, and improve cities’ sustainability and liveability. Learn more about the 15-minute city in the short clip below.”

Videoclip (2=minutes) C40 city mayors

Ottawa’s Official Plan

Photo credit Lucy

We are excited to learn that the concept of 15-minute neighbourhoods is embedded in the City of Ottawa’s 2019 official plan (

“The new Official Plan is a document that describes how the city will grow and has a goal to be the most liveable mid-sized city in North America. To achieve this goal, Five Big Moves were adopted to frame new Official Plan, including the concept of 15-minute neighbourhoods.”

“What do we mean when we say a 15-minute neighbourhood? It is a neighbourhood where you can access most of your day-to-day needs within a 15-minute walk from your home, including when using a wheelchair or other mobility aids, on sidewalks or pathways.”

“A 15-minute neighbourhood is a neighbourhood where you can walk to get to the grocery store, where you can easily walk to frequent transit, and where children can safely walk to school. ”  

“Walkable, 15-minute neighbourhoods reduce our dependency on cars, promote equity, social connections and a greater sense of community, foster physical and mental health, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

What is the built environment? 

“The ‘built environment’ includes the human-made design and layout of the communities in which people live, work and play.” 

“The built environment is made up of:

  • Neighbourhoods;
  • Homes;
  • Workplaces;
  • Schools;
  • Shops and services;
  • Sidewalks and bike paths;
  • Streets and transit networks;
  • Green spaces, parks and playgrounds;
  • Buildings and other infrastructure;
  • Food systems (the path that food travels from field to fork: the growing, harvesting, processing, transporting, marketing, consuming, and disposing of food).”

Changes to our physical world can lead to better or worse personal health.

Lake Ontario, Toronto, Photo credit Lucy

“The built environment can affect our behaviours and how we feel.  For example, well-designed communities that make it easy to access healthy food and get around by transit, foot or bicycle can contribute to better health and happiness.”

“A healthy built environment can:

  • Promote being active, eating healthy and other healthy habits;
  • Encourage social connectedness;
  • Prevent injuries and promote safety;
  • Improve air, water and soil quality;
  • Provide access to natural and green spaces;
  • Ensure all members of the community have good opportunities to be healthy regardless of their age, income level, gender, ethnic background, or any other social or economic reasons.”

“Healthy communities can help create environments that give everyone opportunities for all people to thrive and live their lives to the fullest. They have the potential to make the healthy choice the easier choice for residents.”

“The 5C’s of healthy communities are some community design features that promote healthy built environments.”

“All across the country, urban infrastructure faces the less dramatic, everyday threat of increased wear and tear caused by ongoing climate change. Engineers and designers build city infrastructure to suit local weather conditions. Shifts in averages and extremes of temperature or precipitation can exceed design expectations, shortening the effective life of the built environment. For example, higher temperatures can soften asphalt, making roads and bridges wear out more quickly.”

“Healthy communities are:

  • Compact and Complete

○       A diverse and compact mix of housing options for all ages and incomes, with shops and services, access to healthy food options, schools, employment, public transit, and open green spaces that can promote walking and social connectedness by making it easy to get out and meet.

  • Connected

○       Safe, complete streets and transportation networks that promote walking, cycling and transit use, making it easy and pleasant to get around.

  • Cool

○       Parks, trees and green spaces provide shade and improve air quality, making the community  cooler, and promoting active living and positive mental health.

  • Convivial

○       Attractive and lively public and community spaces where people can easily connect with each other and withday-to-day services make communities vibrant and livable.

“The built environment is shaped by policies and regulations, planners, engineers, developers, governments, elected officials and engaged community members.” 

Why Focus on Health and the Built Environment Today? 

photo credit Lucy

“The way communities are built has impacted people’s health and well-being throughout history- and continues today.  Even though we have access to sophisticated health care such as immunizations and antibiotics, we are faced with new, complex, and growing health challenges and accompanying health-related costs.”

Read our discussion paper: The Building Blocks for a Healthy Ottawa (38 pages)

Amenity-Rich Neighbourhoods in Canada

This timely November 23rd Globe and Mail article offers further insight on liveable neighbourhoods in Canada, and how being mindful about the social, economic and health benefits and design principles for amenity-rich neighbourhoods can strengthen Canada’s pandemic recovery plan to ‘build back better’.

Read further to find out the elements of an amenity-rich neighbourhood, the article’s block-by-block analysis of Statistics Canada and CMHA data, and to check the maps to see whether you are among the lucky 23% of Canadians to live in one.

The criteria applied in the analysis:

“A neighbourhood is considered “amenity dense” when a resident in that neighbourhood can walk to a grocery store, pharmacy and public transit stop within one kilometre; when there is a childcare facility, primary school and library within 1.5 kilometres; and when they can drive to a health facility within three kilometres and a place of employment in 10 kilometres. (These areas are highlighted in pink on our maps.)”

Momentum is Building Globally Online – TedTalks’ Countdown

Allan feeding a chickadee Edmonton, photo credit Lucy

Countdown is a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into action. It launched globally on 10.10.2020. Check out all the talks and performances.

Angel Hsu Ted Talk – Cities are Driving Climate Change

“Cities pump out 70 percent of all global carbon emissions — which means they also have the greatest opportunity to lower CO2 levels and energy consumption. Climate and data scientist Angel Hsu shares how cities around the world are leading the response to climate change by innovating new, low-carbon ways of living.”

Stuart Oda TedTalk – Indoor Vertical Farms?

Amanda Burden Ted Talk – How public space makes cities work

Vicki Arroyo Ted Talk – Let’s prepare for our new climate

Momentum is Growing to Build Back Better

Paris photo credit Tony

The C40 Knowledge Hub offers free “Resources for co-creating an inclusive vision” and city models of planning in action:

“The Inclusive Community Engagement Playbook is a detailed practitioners’ guide to everything cities need to know about how to deliver inclusive community engagement. Inclusive engagement processes can enable cities to identify local peoples’ priorities and craft a strong 15-minute city plan. The Playbook includes an innovative and diverse selection of tools of varying complexity to cater to cities with different needs and capacity, as well as case studies from cities around the world. The Playbook is available in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.”

“Cities with designated participatory budgets include:

  • Paris, where 10% of the City’s spending is determined by participatory budgeting processes at neighbourhood level. The city’s residents have the opportunity to participate in the design and selection of projects to be implemented in their own local area. This is one of the largest participatory budgets in the world.3
  • New York City, where the city’s participatory budgeting process ‘myPB’ has allocated $120 million to 706 community-designed projects over the last eight years, leading to improved local services.4
New York City photo credit Lucy

“Milan has cited the 15-minute city as a framework for its recovery, aiming to guarantee that essential services – particularly healthcare facilities – are within walking distance for all residents, while preventing a surge in car travel after the end of lockdown. Milan aims to create 35km of new bike lanes before the end of June and pedestrianise several school streets by September. It is also allowing some shops, bars and restaurants to use street space to serve customers outside, among other things. MadridEdinburgh and Seattle are other cities taking similar approaches as they emerge from COVID-19 outbreaks.”

“In China, ShanghaiGuangzhou and other cities have included 15-Minute Community Life Circles in their masterplans. Chengdu is another city taking a polycentric approach to urban development: it has a Great City plan to create a smaller, distinct satellite city in its outskirts, where everything will be within a 15 minute walk of the pedestrianised centre and connected to current urban centres via mass transit.”

Shanghai Photo credit Lucy

“There are many examples of cities around the globe that are responding to this opportunity to expand cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in the wake of COVID-19. Trailblazers include:

  • Bogotá and Berlin’s temporary bike lanes.
  • Seattle and San Francisco’s ‘open streets’.
  • Milan and Barcelona’s ambitious plans for road-space reallocation.
  • Lisbon and Mexico City’s public and private shared bike schemes, with many offering free or subsidised rides.5  “

Cities with 15-minute city-style visions, plans and programmes include:

  • Portland, Oregon, where the 2015 Portland Climate Action Plan sets a 2030 Complete Neighborhoods goal for 80% of residents to be easily able to access all their basic daily non-work needs by foot or bike, and to have safe pedestrian or bicycle access to transit.10 Portland’s indicators of neighbourhood completeness include distance from bike routes and transit services, distance from a neighbourhood park and community centre and the quality of sidewalks. The Plan prioritises underserved, low-income neighbourhoods for complete neighbourhood improvements.11

“Read more about food access, shortening cities’ food-supply chains and more in Food and COVID-19: How cities are feeding residents today and building a better tomorrow.”

Ensure that shops selling fresh food are present in all neighbourhoods, eliminating food ‘deserts’.

  • In 2019, as part of its Green New DealLos Angeles set a 2035 goal for all low-income residents to live within half a mile of fresh food, decentralising options.6
  • In Lagos, the city has been utilising closed schools as markets, so people can buy food and medicine close to their homes, without having to travel long distances and to avoid large crowds of people in central markets.
  • London is planning to diversify food retail options by strengthening street markets during the COVID-19 recovery, to avoid a return to heavy dependence on centralised supermarkets.”
Los Angeles photo credit Lucy

“Promote affordable housing in each neighbourhood. Cities can do this by setting affordable housing requirements for new developments – an approach known as inclusionary zoning – or offer density bonuses or other incentives to developers for providing affordable units, for example. Cities must also ensure that any existing public or private affordable housing is preserved.”

  • In 2020, Johannesburg adopted an inclusionary zoning policy that requires the provision of affordable units within multi-family developments, while granting additional density rights.
  • Los Angeles’ transit-oriented communities programme, passed in 2016, offers developers the opportunity to build more units, in addition to other incentives, if they include on-site affordable units within a short distance of key transit stops.
  • Paris is greening school playgrounds and granting residents access outside school hours for recreation, community gardening and to escape the summer heat. Read more about how cities are reducing risk from extreme heat in Building climate, health and economic resilience in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
  • Many public schools in New York City allow food stalls and farmers markets to use their parking lots and schoolyards.”

Momentum is Building – Denmark

Recently, C40 announced that “46 additional Danish Municipalities will be developing Paris compatible climate action plans… This is in addition to the 20 Danish municipalities that are already on their way to finalising their plans and means that well over half of the municipalities in Denmark are now working towards setting ambitious climate targets. The 46 additional Danish municipalities have all committed to “setting a clear goal: net zero by 2050.”

Momentum is Building for a Green and Just Recovery

In July 2020, C40 mayors released the report, Agenda for a Green and Just Recovery, by the Global Mayors COVID Recovery Task Force. The executive summary is accessible here:

With our Friends4Trees4Life focus on trees, climate action at every level, and, as urban dwellers in Edmonton and Toronto, we are excited to learn the C40 Mayors’ action agenda includes actions for health and well-being and nature-based solutions, among others:

“We will lead in taking action for health and well-being – giving public space back to people and nature, reclaiming our streets and guaranteeing clean air to ensure liveable, local communities: ○ Create ‘15 minute cities’ where all residents of the city are able to meet most of their needs within a short walk or bicycle ride from their homes

 ○ Give streets back to people, by permanently reallocating more road space to walking and cycling, investing in city-wide walking and cycling networks and green infrastructure

○ Building with nature to prioritise ‘nature based solutions’ such as parks, green roofs, green walls, blue infrastructure and permeable pavements, to help reduce the risks of extreme heat, drought, and flooding, and improve liveability and physical and mental health”

Zero-carbon neighbourhood

Edmonton Whitemud Ravine, photo credit Lucy

“Paris is also building its first zero-carbon neighbourhood, with 100% of the spaces designed to be reversible and adaptable for different uses over time. on weekends.”

“Let’s change for good! The Collective for Climate develops the first zero carbon neighborhood of Paris. The project aims to reduce 85% of its total emissions through a myriad of innovative approaches and will go beyond the carbon neutrality goal thanks to the creation of a Carbon Fund.”

“The project includes on-site geothermal and photovoltaic energy production that will benefit the entire district. The emissions will also be considerably reduced thanks to the choice of construction materials, with 80% of the superstructure to be built in timber or stone; and 100% of the façades to be composed of bio-sourced materials such as terra cotta bricks and hemp.”

Read more about The Collective for Climate’s winning project at Porte-de-Montreuil:

What Should Cities Be Like in 2050?

From neighbourhoods to cities of the future.

Learn about the National Geographic’s invitation to SOM architects to imagine the ideal city of the future for inclusion as part of its April 2019 issue devoted entirely to cities and the future challenges they face at National Geographic April 2019, and about the concept of “biomorphic urbanism” on SOM’s website.

SOM explains the choice of 2050 for its Future City design:

“Working with National Geographic staff, we selected the year 2050: far enough in the future to make significant changes in how we think about and build cities, yet still close enough for many people to see change within their lifetimes. This is also the year when the United Nations estimates the global population will reach 9.8 billion people, with 70% of those living in cities. This combination of factors made 2050 an appropriate target date.”

Edmonton photo credit Lucy


Maybe you would rather curl up with a physical book as you dive deeper into this topic?

Toronto’s former mayor, David Miller, offers up this timely book release, with its cheeky and intriguing title of: Solved: How the World’s Great Cities Are Fixing the Climate Crisis.

GoodReads has this to say and recommend about the book:

“…In Solved, David Miller argues that cities are taking action on climate change because they can – and because they must. He makes a clear-eyed and compelling case that, if replicated at pace and scale, the actions of leading global cities point the way to creating a more sustainable planet.”

“Solved: How the World’s Great Cities Are Fixing the Climate Crisis demonstrates that initiatives in cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Oslo, Shenzhen, Melbourne, and beyond can make a significant difference in reducing global emissions if implemented worldwide. By chronicling the stories of how cities have taken action into their own hands to meet and exceed emissions targets laid out in the Paris Agreement, Miller empowers readers to fix the climate crisis. As much a “how to” guide for policymakers as a work for concerned citizens, Solved aims to inspire hope through its clear and factual analysis of what can be done – now, today – to mitigate our harmful emissions and pave the way to a 1.5-degree world.”

So Many More Innovators to Learn About

Notwithstanding David Miller’s tantalizing claim that the climate change problem is “solved” (!), we may wish to return to the topic of Cities and Climate Change in future blogs.

We are happy to be learning that city leaders are embracing the urgent call for climate action, sharing best practices and showing the way forward to help accelerate positive change. This helps to buoy our optimism about the future.

Topic categories on C40’s knowledge hub for potential deeper mining in future include:

  • Adapting to Climate Change
  • Air Quality
  • Buildings and Construction
  • City Diplomacy
  • Clean Energy
  • Climate Action Planning
  • Collaboration, Coordination and Outreach
  • Food
  • Inclusive and Equitable Climate Action
  • Sustainable Finance and Economics
  • Transport and Urban Planning
  • Waste

Readers may want to begin their own deeper exploration now at:

And if anyone does dive in deeper, we invite you to share what you find – comments and guest blogs are welcomed!

Good News Blog

We are chuckling at ourselves. In Year two for our Blog we had intended to scale back to posting bi-weekly.

The first good news to share is that good news items keep finding us – thanks in large part to our generous Readers. Thank you! Well, why wait to share good news?! And so, we now find ourselves continuing with writing weekly blogs :), alternating with short posts one week, followed the next week with a longer piece.

Champion of Trees

Thanks to Nora for sharing the great news that Toronto has been recognized by the Arbour Day Foundation as Champion of Trees this year. “The award, presented by the Arbor Day Foundation, recognizes the City for exemplary leadership in developing and implementing new policies and practices for tree planting and care, natural area stewardship and arboriculture.”

In accepting the award, Mayor John Tory had these remarks –“A healthy tree canopy is a cornerstone of Toronto’s environmental sustainability. While climate change is a global phenomenon, we can do our part on a local level by prioritizing changes that will help address the impacts of climate change. I am glad to see that the City is being recognized for its hard work and efforts towards protecting our tree canopy and I’m pleased to accept the Champion of Trees Award on behalf of the City.”

Photo credit Jim

See the full press release on the City of Toronto’s web-site at:

For more information on the Arbor Day Foundation:

Here is how Toronto is recognized on the Arbor Day Foundation’s list of 2020 Award winners:


“The City of Toronto, Ontario, has one of the largest urban forestry programs in Canada, having planted more than 1 million trees since 2005. After undertaking its first tree canopy study in 2008, the City invested $605.6 million in its urban forest with the aim of increasing canopy cover and providing equitable access to trees to all Torontonians. Currently, the City engages residents, non-profits, and community groups through its community grants and volunteer programs to plant more than 120,000 trees and engage thousands of volunteers each year. In early 2020, the Arbor Day Foundation recognized Toronto as a Tree City of the World for its leadership in urban and community forestry.”

Congratulations City of Toronto and Toronto residents!

The campaign to save Toronto’s oldest tree – a 250-year-old heritage oak tree – is being championed by Mark and Ben Cullen. Its goal is to raise $430,000, with the City of Toronto’s agreement ‘to match those private donations $3 to $1”. There are just a few more weeks to go before the December 12 deadline. To learn more about this tree and tree campaign, read this Toronto Star feature and/or go to or call 416-292-1144.

Photo credit MaryAnn

A Biden Presidency is Good News…Including for Climate Action

In our October good news blog post on momentum is building (, we shared positive news about global top carbon emitter China’s recent and significant commitment to become carbon net neutral by 2060. Prior to such commitments from top greenhouse gas emitting nations it was hard to see how the world as a whole would be able to find its way to keeping global warming to 1.5C.

Joe Biden’s US election victory bodes well for so many reasons, including for global warming and climate change. The US is currently the second highest carbon emitting country, after China (see for example this Statista chart : Biden’s target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is good news for the US and for the whole global community.

Carbon Brief reports that, “Climate Action Tracker released new analysis following Biden’s victory that was picked up by many outlets, including the Guardian. It concluded that, if the president-elect’s plans come to fruition, the result “could reduce global heating by about 0.1C, bringing the goals of the Paris Agreement ‘within striking distance’”.

To read the full piece on “Media Reaction: What Joe Biden’s US election victory means for climate change” –  To read the full Guardian article:

New Option to Purchase Carbon Offsets at the Gas Pump

Photo credit Jim on Protection Island BC

In past Blog posts we have profiled airline companies that have begun to offer customers the option to purchase carbon offsets as part of the ticket purchasing process (Let’s keep the faith, we will get through this and we will fly again!).

This November 12, 2020, Globe and Mail article reports that “Shell will become the first gas retailer in Canada to off-set emissions from customers’ fuel purchases with an optional buy-in at the pump, recreating a program it runs in Europe as it signals its intention to help meet global goals to slow climate change as outlined in the Paris accord.”

“In Canada, Shell has sourced carbon credits from the (B.C.) Darkwoods Forest Carbon Project, an initiative of the Nature Conservancy of Canada.” To learn these and other details about Shell’s Drive Carbon Neutral Program.  visit Shell’s website at:

“Going Green is Essential to Our Future”

Photo Credit Jim

Catherine was curious about a full page ad she saw in the newspaer recently, exclaiming that “Green isn’t the Right Thing to Do, it’s the Smart Thing to Do.”

She followed the link to learn about the University of Ottawa’s launch of The Telfler Institute for Sustainable Business. Its goals are explained on its web-site and include:

“Economies around the world are adopting and encouraging sustainable practices. Canada needs to do likewise.”

Photo of cousin Helena in Europe

“In pursuit of its ultimate goal of emphasizing sustainability in our economy, the Institute will develop research insights, support policymakers, and create resources that aid in the adoption of greener practice in Canadian businesses and industry.”

“The Telfer Institute for Sustainable Business is here to lead the way. Let’s get greener.”

Quebec’s Investments Toward Goals of 1.5 Million E-Vehicles and Carbon Neutrality by 2050

On November 16, the Montreal Gazette reported that, “Quebec’s Premier François Legault unveiled a five-year, $6.7-billion plan on Monday that promises to help cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, put 1.5 million electric vehicles on Quebec roads and create opportunities for Quebec’s green economy to expand.” The plan, called the Plan for a Green Economy 2030, includes a ban on sales of new gas-powered vehicles. a goal of 40% of taxis to be electric by 2030, installation of 4500 more outdoor electric car charging stations and 2000 rapid charging stations, among other investments, toward Quebec’s target of being carbon neutral by 2050. These and other details, plus the mixed reaction to the Plan by environmental and other stakeholder groups are covered in the full Montreal Gazette article at:

It is good news to see increasing evidence of momentum building among jurisdictions, such as the EU, China, the US and here Quebec – that set specific targets to reduce greenhouse gases and become carbon neutral, heeding the urgent call to action by scientists if the world is to avoid irreversible climate change catastrophe. Green economy plans are important to set but crucial to implement. Much remains to do.

Hope for Paris Accord

Today’s Globe and Mail article reports on the UN‘s climate change chief Patricia Espinosa’s views that recent “pledges by big polluters boost Paris hopes”.

“Espinosa said countries’ willingness to commit to tougher emissions limits shows that curbing global warming remains a political priority – and that the target set in Paris is a possibility.”

“ ‘Science has told us that we still have a chance to achieve it,’ she said. ‘Looking at these announcements, I think that we should be also having even more hope.’ ” (Globe and Mail article:

Photo Credit Lucy

New Coral Reef Taller than Eiffel Tower Found off Australian Coast

Read and watch this CBC good news story on “…the first detached reef of that size to be discovered in over 120 years and that it was thriving with a “blizzard of fish” in a healthy ecosystem.”

Such good news to discover a new, healthy coral reef!

Remembering Our Heroes

The Highway of Heroes tree tribute campaign aims to plant two million trees, one tree to honour the ultimate sacrifice of each fallen Canadian soldier since Confederation. This Global News article describes the project’s history since its creation five years ago by Landscape Ontario.

Double good news on the donation website – thanks to an anonymous private donor, all donations will be matched until the end of the year. And, the tree tribute campaign is within “$500,000 of its $10 million multi-year fundraising goal!”  Meaning the project is in range of final tree planting to achieve “ 2 million trees, for 2 million heroes by 2022!”

If you wish to donate visit:

Photo credit Jim

Living Tree Tributes

With the winter soon here, Readers may want to consider planting a tree in someone’s name as a holiday gift idea. Organizations such as, OneTreePlanted and Tree Canada offer recognition options for donors. Many municipalities, including Toronto (, Edmonton ( ), and Halifax ( also offer commemorative tree (and bench) programs.

Oceans Need Kindness

Ushuaia Argentina, Long Beach BC, Newfoundland, Costa Rica, Cook Islands

There is no denying the beauty, wonder, power, and mystery of the oceans on planet Earth. Living in landlocked provinces, we are always in awe when we have a chance to visit the ocean to feel the spray and put our toes into the cool water, listen to the rhythm of the waves and smell the salt water. We all appreciate the beauty of the oceans, and their calming aura, but as humans, over the years, unfortunately, we have not been kind to our five oceans.

“For an amazing ecosystem that covers 70 percent of the planet, oceans get no respect”, according to Jessica Pink, who was an editorial intern for Conservation International. “All they’ve done is feed us, provide most of the oxygen we breathe, and protect us from ourselves: Were it not for the oceans, climate change would have already made Earth uninhabitable”.

“How? The oceans have gamely absorbed more than 90 percent of the warming created by humans since the 1970s, a 2016 report found. Had that heat gone into the atmosphere, global average temperatures would have jumped by almost 56 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). But as vast as the seas are, there is a limit to how much they can absorb, and they are beginning to show it.” 

Oregon Coast

Human’s have affected the ocean through pollution such as plastics, over fishing, and destroying habitats such as removing mangrove forests, but most notably we have harmed the ocean as a result of reliance on fossil fuels causing climate change. Here are the 5 main ways that climate change is affecting the ocean:

Higher temperatures are bad for fish

“Persistently rising temperatures are having a cavalcade of effects on marine life. Consider:

  • Warmer waters cause coral bleaching, which in turn impacts of coral reef systems that are home to most of the ocean’s biodiversity — and provide crucial sources of food for people.
  • Warmer waters threaten to cause mass migration of marine species in search of the right conditions for feeding and spawning.
  • Change in water temperatures can directly affect the development and growth of most fish and cephalopods (such as octopus and squid).

For the 3 billion people worldwide who rely on fish as their chief source of protein, the prospect of fewer and smaller fish in the sea is bad news.”

Polar ice is melting

“In what has become a dismal annual ritual, wintertime Arctic sea ice continues to dip to new lows as the oceans warm. Meanwhile, Antarctica is shrinking from underneath, as submerged ice is rapidly melting, according to recent studies.”

“The effects of this warming on iconic species such as polar bears are well documented. Under the surface, though, the problem is no less urgent. Consider:

  • The production of algae — the foundation of the Arctic food web — depends on the presence of sea ice. As sea ice diminishes, algae diminishes, which has ripple effects on species from Arctic cod to seals, whales and bears.
  • Diminished sea ice results in the loss of vital habitat for seals, walruses, penguins, whales and other megafauna.
  • Sea ice is a critical habitat for Antarctic krill, the food source for many seabirds and mammals in the Southern Ocean. In recent years, as sea ice has diminished, Antarctic krill populations have declined, resulting in declines in the species dependent on the krill.
Toronto Zoo

What does this mean for us? Impacts to the Arctic cod fishery is having cascading effects, culminating in human-wildlife conflict, for one. A dramatic decrease in sea ice — and seafood — pushes polar bears toward coastal communities and hunting camps to find food, a nuisance and danger to people living there.”

Rising sea levels represent a slow, seemingly unstoppable threat

“Climate change poses a dual threat for sea levels.”

“For one, when land-based polar ice melts, it finds its way to the sea. (Ice that forms in polar seas, on the other hand, doesn’t affect sea levels when it melts.) Second, when water warms, it expands to take up more space — a major yet unheralded cause of sea-level rise.”

“With sea-level rise accelerating at a rate of about one eighth of an inch per year, the effects on humanity are plain:

Newfoundland Iceberg from Greenland-beautiful but a sad loss to the polar ice cap.
  • Though only 2 percent of the world’s land lies at or below 10 meters (32 feet) above sea level, these areas contain 10 percent of the world’s human population, all directly threatened by sea-level rise.
  • Small island nations such as those in the Pacific Ocean stand to be wiped off the map. The people of Kiribati, for example, are among the world’s first refugees of sea-level rise, and two of the nation’s islands have all but disappeared into the ocean.”

“The effects of sea-level rise on wildlife is less explored but no less important:

  • The survival of coral reefs, mangroves, sea grasses and other critical habitat-forming species hinges on their ability to move into shallower waters. Slow-growing species are most unlikely to be able to keep pace with the rising sea level.
  • Critical coastal habitats — for instance, sea turtle nesting beaches -are lost as sea levels rise. Natural and man-made barriers such as cliffs, sea walls, and coastal developments stand in the way of migrating further inland.”

Warming oceans alter currents

“Climate change impacts ocean temperatures as well as wind patterns — taken together, these can alter oceanic currents. In the Caribbean Sea this year alone, there have been over 25 hurricanes, a record number, with unmeasurable amount of damage to people living in their path.”

“How does this affect wildlife? As mentioned earlier, many marine species’ migratory patterns can change as the currents they follow are altered. And many species that depend on ocean currents for reproduction and nutrients will be affected. For example, many reef-building coral and reef fish species rely on dispersal of their larvae by currents.”

“The impacts of changes in ocean currents on humanity could be severe, as currents play a major role in maintaining Earth’s climate. For example, Europe’s relatively mild climate is maintained in part by the large Atlantic current called the Gulf Stream, which is experiencing an “unprecedented slowdown.” Changing these currents will have major implications for the climate across the globe, including changes in rainfall — with more rain in some areas and much less in others — and to air temperatures. These changes have drastic implications for countless species, including humans.”

Climate change is affecting the chemistry of seawater

Oregon Coast

“The same burning of fossil fuels that increases greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, is also altering the chemical composition of seawater, making it more acidic. The ocean absorbs 30 percent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; when that carbon dissolves into the water, it forms carbonic acid.”

“How does this affect marine life? A lot. Acidification directly affects ocean life that build shells of calcium carbonate such as corals, scallops, lobsters and crabs, and some microscopic plankton that are a foundation of the food web throughout the ocean. These shell-forming organisms provide critical habitats and food sources for other organisms. Increased acidification can also limit the ability of certain fish to detect predators, disrupting the food chain.”

“The disruption and destruction of coral reefs and shellfish will have profound effects on humanity, chiefly in the form of less food for people who rely on the ocean for it.”

Cliffs of Mohr, Ireland

Actions We Take for our Oceans

Reducing Carbon Emissions is the Most Meaningful Thing We Can Do

Meeting the targets of the 2016 Paris Agreement and preventing the warming to the planet by more than 1.5 degrees will require action at international, national, local, community and personal levels around the world but simply is the most meaningful thing we can do for our oceans.

GOOD NEWS: A recent article in CBC What on Earth October 29, 2020 states: “Reducing carbon emissions is key to fighting climate change, and in recent years, countries have been taking steps to lessen their greenhouse gases (with varying degrees of sincerity and success). The COVID-19 pandemic, however, appears to have hastened the trend. By forcing the world into a collective quarantine (more or less), some have estimated the pandemic could cut this year’s projected global emissions by seven per cent, including a whopping 40 percent in ground transportation (largely the result of work-from-home requirements). As a result of a significant drop in fossil fuel demand, particularly coal, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reckons that we may have reached peak emissions in 2019. If this proves to be true, it doesn’t mean that the planet won’t continue to warm in the coming years. But it gives environmentalists and people in the green energy sector hope that the transition to a low-carbon economy is well underway.”

Blue Carbon Offset Calculator

“ “Blue Carbon’ is the carbon dioxide captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems. This carbon is stored in the form of biomass and sediments from mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrass meadows. Like trees on the land, blue carbon may provide a method for the long-term sequestration and storage of carbon.”

The Ocean Foundation has created the “SeaGrass Grow Carbon Calculator” which helps an individual or organization calculate its annual CO2 emissions to, in turn, determine the amount of blue carbon necessary to offset them (acres of seagrass to be restored or the equivalent). The revenue from the blue carbon credit mechanism can be used to fund restoration efforts, which in turn generate more credits. Such programs allow for two wins: creation of a quantifiable cost to global systems of CO2-emitting activities and, second, restoration of seagrass meadows that form a critical component of coastal ecosystems and are in sore need of recovery.”

Here is the link to the SeaGrass Grow Carbon Calculator:

Eat Sustainable Seafood

Images from Newfoundland

“We can choose to eat sustainable seafood and help protect the ocean food web. The way some seafood products are caught or farmed can harm the ocean — both wildlife and the ecosystems they call home. In Canada, SeaChoice is the organization that monitors sustainability and labeling of sustainability of the fish and seafood for sale. This organization is made up of 3 groups: The David Suzuki Foundation, The Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society. SeaChoice found just 11 percent of seafood available in Canada in 2016 was rated as a “best choice. They are calling on the federal government to require far more detailed information and third-party verification to justify the use of “sustainable” or “responsible” in seafood labelling. SeaChoice wants labelling like those in the European Union which states: scientific name, where it was caught or farmed, the production method and gear type or farming method. When you buy fish at your local store, ask where it is from and how it is caught.”

“There is progress being make in the selling of sustainable products in Canada as a result of demands being put on the retailers. Unfortunately some sustainability labelling cannot be verified, especially as it applies to canned tuna.”

Shrimp Shopping

The good news is that all the products in Canada with eco-certification were proven sustainably harvested. So, note to self, look for the certification. On a package of frozen shrimp at home I looked and found the labels: Ocean Friendly/Sustainability/ Seafood Forever Responsibly Sourced. It is really important to buy shrimp with a green label on the package as many shrimp are grown in areas of the world where mangrove trees have been cut down, and so the environmental impact of eating such shrimp is considered 10 times worse than eating beef!!!!! Uggg!!!! So much to know!!! And according to a Chatelaine article listed below, “Seafood export is a huge industry in southeast Asia, but human-rights problems are rampant, including chattel slavery (forced labour) and child labour. And because of Canada’s lax labelling, something may be labelled as “product of Canada” but that could just mean the last place of processing. There are a few sustainable Canadian shrimp farms out there, however, including Ontario’s Planet Shrimp and British Columbia’s Berezan Shrimp, which sell their products mostly at fishmongers and high-end grocers. And avoid the cheap shrimp rings!

Don’t Assume Wild is Superior to Farmed.

In Chatelaine “How To Shop For Fish And Seafood Without Wrecking The Planet-–(Buying fish can feel like an ethical land mine. Here’s what to look for at the grocery store.)” by Matthew HallidayUpdated August 1, 2019

“We need farmed seafood if we’re going to feed the planet,” says Langley, and properly farmed seafood is far better than unsustainably harvested wild food. Fish farming’s bad rap is due in large part to offshore, open-net pens, which allow waste, chemicals, pesticides and parasites like sea lice to become concentrated in one area, or enter the wild. They also create the potential for farmed fish to pass disease to wild populations nearby, or even escape.

In the past few years, technological advances have made land-based aquaculture—which eliminates the risk of escapes and interaction with wild populations—much more cost-effective. The most sustainable are recirculating systems, which filter and recirculate water in a tank, making them not only ocean-friendly, but far less water-intensive. Land-based aquaculture, as a rule, is a much better choice offshore farms. When in doubt, look for an ASC certification.

Tuna Choices

Greepeace Canada grades and ranks different brands of tuna based on whether they:

  • Have a sustainability policy.
  • Avoid using tuna from threatened stocks and those caught using “destructive” fishing methods.
  • Are able to trace the tuna they use to its source.
  • Promote marine reserves and domestic, coastal fisheries.
  • Use comprehensive and clear labelling.

Top grade goes to two brands: Raincoast Trading and Wild Planet but Greenpeace also reports that more brands are becoming sustainable such as: Gold Seal, Ocean’s and Our Compliments from Safeway.”

Consider a Donation to Organizations such as The Ocean Foundation

While doing this research for this blog we were impressed to learn about this organization and all they do. We are not endorsing them, just letting you learn about the scope of all they do. “The Ocean Foundation (T.O.F.) and its current staff have been working on oceans and climate change issues since 1990; on Ocean Acidification since 2003; and on related “blue carbon” issues since 2007. As mentioned above, The Ocean Foundation hosts the Blue Resilience Initiative that seeks to advance policy that promotes the roles coastal and ocean ecosystems play as natural carbon sinks, i.e. blue carbon.”

“The Ocean Foundation staff serve on the advisory board for the Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security, and The Ocean Foundation is a member of the Ocean and Climate Platform. Since 2014, T.O.F. has provided ongoing technical advice on the Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Waters focal area that enabled the GEF Blue Forests Project to provide the first global-scale assessment of the values associated with coastal carbon and ecosystem services. T.O.F. is currently leading a seagrass and mangrove restoration project at the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in close partnership with the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources.” 

Reduce Additional Threats to the Ocean

Simultaneously, it is important to the health of the ocean—and us—that additional threats are avoided, and that our marine ecosystems are managed thoughtfully. Some examples of additional threats are: the garbage heap of plastics (as was blogged about last week), lost and discarded fishing nets that lethally snare fish, seabirds and marine mammals as they drift, or ships that spill oil and garbage, and the transporting of critters to alien habitats unprepared for their arrival, turning them into invasive species, and fertilizer runoff from farms that turn vast swaths of ocean into dead zones.

“It is also clear that by reducing the immediate stresses from excess human activities, we can increase the resilience of ocean species and ecosystems. In this way, we can invest in ocean health and its “immune system” by eliminating or reducing the myriad of smaller ills from which it suffers.

Support the Planting of Kelp, Seaweed, Coral, and Mangroves (just like we do with trees!!!)

Restoring abundance of ocean species—of mangroves, of seagrass meadows, of corals, of kelp forests, of fisheries, of all ocean life—will help the ocean continue to provide the services on which all life depends.”

Recently we saw a documentary showing environmentalists working to restore the Great Barrier Reef, by planting new coral, something we never imagined was possible. As well, the World Economic Forum is launching an aquaculture drive off the coast of B.C. where there is strong potential for the development of commercial shellfish and seaweed aquaculture that can help salmon farmers. (SeaWestNews).

Ocean and Climate Change

National Geographic Doc: THE LAST ICE

Also follow OCEAN WISE at This Canadian Company’s mission is “to protect and restore the world’s oceans, and to inspire the global community to become Ocean Wise by increasing its understanding, wonder and appreciation for our oceans”

Let’s Say Goodbye to Plastics

Millions of tons of plastic trash litter our coastlines and ocean, from the surface to the deep sea. Our landfills are overflowing with plastic too. We are creating and using plastic at a much faster rate than we can sustainably manage it as waste.

Personal Commitment

This will be a new project on our house as we have a bit of extra time at home with COVID. We have found some ways to reduce plastic, such as with reusable grocery and vegetable bags, metal water bottles, box laundry detergent, reusable seals to avoid saran wrap, tetra pack juice and cardboard milk containers, but we still get some of our fruit in plastic, like berries, and some drinks, salad dressings, margarine and yogurt in plastic. Plastic is everywhere! We thought as a family we could just track the amount and type of plastics we bring into the house and see if we can find ways to decrease them over the next several months. It is a regular conversation we are having. Again it means not always purchasing the cheapest or most convenient item. And in this regard, we plan to make a field trip to Bulk Barn and try to set some new habits. We will report back!! Care to join us? We hope you will share your plastic reducing ideas with us in the comments.

Canada to ban single-use plastics such as bags, straws by end of 2021

“According to Ottawa, Canadians throw away three million tonnes of plastic waste each year — including 15 billion bags annually, and 57 million straws daily.”

“The Canadian Government, in collaboration with the provincial governments has set a goal to ban plastics by 2030. Plastic is polluting our rivers, lakes, and oceans, harming wildlife, and generating microplastics in the water we use and drink. Every year, Canadians throw away 3 million tonnes of plastic waste, only 9% of which is recycled, meaning the vast majority of plastics end up in landfills and about 29,000 tonnes finds its way into our natural environment.In this effort they have set a ban on the following single use plastics that are often not recycled and have readily available alternatives: plastic check out bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and food ware made from hard to recycle plastics. Comments back to the government are welcome until December 9, 2020. (Maybe you can write in and let your feelings be known. I want them to ban plastic that raspberries, blueberries and strawberries come in so I do not have to feel bad eating these healthy fruits.) As well the government is emphasizing new and innovative solutions to prevent, capture and remove plastic pollution from the environment. This can reduce 1.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year and create approximately 42,000 jobs across the country.”

The Ocean Foundation Redesigning Plastics Initiative

“The Ocean Foundation will pursue science-informed national legislation in plastic-producing countries to require reengineering of the chemistry of plastic itself, redesigning of plastic products, and limiting what is made from plastic. The Initiative will move this industry from Complex, Customized and Contaminating to make plastic Safe, Simple and Standardized.”

4oceans: Pull a Pound of Trash and Plastics From the Ocean and Coastlines by Buying a Bracelet

Bluefin tuna are top ocean predators so they are uniquely vulnerable to both plastic and chemical pollution, but are a prize catch for fishermen. When you purchase a Bluefin Tuna Bracelet, for about $20-$30 you funds got to pull a pound of trash from the ocean and help raise awareness about the ocean plastic crisis. These bracelets are made with recycled materials recovered by 4oceans employees, and the cord is made with recycled PET plastic bottles, while the beads are made with recycled glass bottles. They are hand assembled by Balinese artisans and adjust to fit from 2″ to 5″ diameter, are unisex in design, and 100% waterproof. They sell other items as well. Check out this sale!!

Clean Up of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

In researching on Wikipedia about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, we were encouraged that in the summer of 2019 and 2020 Ocean Voyages Institute conducted a cleanup of 425,000 pounds of polymer nets and consumer plastic trash using customized GPS satellite trackers.

“The clean-up mission of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (located between California and Hawaii) this year began on 4 May at the Hawaiian port of Hilo, following a three-week quarantine period for all crew members, and ended in Honolulu 48 days later. Sailing on Ocean Voyages Institute’s marine plastic recovery vessel, the crew successfully removed 103 tons (206,000 lbs) of fishing nets and plastic from the area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, completing the “largest open ocean clean-up in history.”

“In Honolulu, Ocean Voyages Institute crew returned with a cargo hold full of ghost fishing nets and toxic plastic debris for the second time this summer. While docked in Honolulu, the ship’s crew will sort the debris into various types of plastics for upcycling and recycling with help from local volunteer groups.”

“Founder Crowley says “Now I feel like we are on a roll, and the support from around the world has been so encouraging, I know we will reach our million pound goal and keep going cleaning our oceans and encouraging major changes in the use of plastics.””

“Ocean Voyages Institute has received numerous awards, including United Nations (UNEP)’s “Climate Hero Award,” and Google Inc.’s “Earth Hero Award.”

This might be a great non-profit organization to consider supporting.

We will be following up on this topic with a blog on Oceans, and how to show kindness to our Oceans. Thanks for being here and we hope you will continue to read along.