This article is more than 2 years old.

HalifACT climate change plan still way off track

Show us your math, councillors ask staff on climate initiative directives

2 min read
caption Halifax Regional Municipality's climate change initiative is lagging, the council's committee of the whole heard on Friday.
Nova Scotia Environmental Network

Halifax city councillors are wondering what its departments are doing to meet HalifACT goals.

Coun. Sam Austin moved a motion at a committee of the whole meeting Friday morning recommending the chief administrative office include clear explanations of what each department is doing to meet the HalifACT goals as a part of budget and planning presentations.

The HalifACT climate change plan was unanimously approved by Halifax Regional Council in June 2020. The plan is a set of 46 actions designed to meet a net-zero emissions goal by 2050. 

In December, the plan’s annual progress report showed that of the 35 actions that have been initiated, seven are on track and only five are adequately resourced.

“We should all be very proud of these accomplishments,” says Shannon Miedema, the city’s environment and climate change manager.

But she says if the plan continues to proceed at this rate, the city’s greenhouse gas emissions would only drop by one-third by 2050 and the carbon budget would be exceeded by 2028. 

At an environment committee meeting in December, Austin moved a motion recommending regional council discuss the progress report in a committee of the whole meeting along with “a briefing note outlining the business unit responsibilities for each HalifACT action.”

Now, council is looking for gaps in specific areas of responsibility. 

“I would very much appreciate it as part of each budget presentation, a very clear explanation from each department, what they are doing towards meeting the chunks of the plan that are their responsibility,” said Austin.

Council says mainstream climate plan thinking and clear communication across the board are necessary to collectively reach their targets.

“We just got this great big list of all the strategic initiatives within the municipality,” said Coun. Patty Cuttel. 

“Yet, we don’t always see the connection between what the business units are doing and how it’s delivering on these strategies.” 

Previous district 12 councillor Richard Zurawski said he is “extremely pessimistic” about the direction of the plan. 

Zurawski brought the motion to council to declare a climate emergency three years ago.

“We need a CAO and directors to make climate change the priority,” he said. “Everything we do has to be under the guidance of how it fits into what we need to do to mitigate climate change, because it is coming.” 

He said the council hasn’t done enough since the plan has been put in place. 

“If this was any other sort of organization where this happened, it would go broke, it would lead to firings … It’s not a priority for this council or the administration.”


Share this

About the author

Maryanne McLarty

Maryanne McLarty is a Halifax-based journalist from Oakville, Ontario. Her interests include listening to true crime podcasts and baking. She...

Have a story idea?