February 27, 2024

Northumberland Climate Transition Cohort Responds to Climate Emergency

screen shot of slide one of presentation by Schaeffer

Trent Hills Rep Heidi Schaeffer Makes Presentation at CSCF AGM

Trent Hills New Strategic Plan Committed to Sustainable Practices

Municipalites in Northumberland Are Responding

Article/images by John Campbell

Campbellford – Wed., June 7, 2023 – “There’s a real urgency to respond to our climate emergency” and the responses are happening in Northumberland County in a variety of ways, says a member of a newly formed group that’s taking the matter seriously.

The Northumberland Climate Transition Cohort is a “very exciting initiative” that involves all seven municipalities, said the group’s Trent Hills representative, Heidi Schaeffer.

“It’s a volunteer-based learning cohort” that’s being “coached or mentored by climate leaders across Canada,” she said at the annual general meeting of the Campbellford/Seymour Community Foundation.

Leading the way is the Tamarack Institute which is building a network of communities across Canada that, in its words, “are committed to tackling climate change through a multi-solving approach that advances social, environmental and economic goals simultaneously.”

Tamarack describes Community Climate Transitions as “a collective impact movement aimed at supporting a just and equitable climate transition. It takes “a holistic view” to improving health and social outcomes, “building resilience, promoting justice and equity, reducing their carbon footprint, and strengthening economic vitality,” by hosting webinars and events, producing publications, sharing learning, and supporting members with “specialized coaching.”

Schaeffer said Cobourg has shown “some real leadership” by putting  together an Integrated Climate Change Plan, while Port Hope has set aside money in its budget to prepare a plan as well.
Cobourg and Northumberland will also be hiring sustainability officers.
Port Hope, Brighton and Hamilton Township have Environment and Climate Change Advisory Committees and Hamilton Township has committed to reducing township-generated greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 30 per cent by 2030.

Schaeffer noted that Trent Hills is developing a new strategic plan that talks about “a growing community that embraces social, economic, and cultural diversity,” and residents, businesses and the municipality are “committed to sustainable practices” to protect its “unique urban centres, rural communities, and picturesque landscape.”

With Trent Hills not having a council member represent the municipality at the cohort since Northumberland joined the network in January, Schaeffer said she has been working with the CAO and community development officer to determine what are the local priorities, and where they overlap elsewhere in the area “so we can help each other across Northumberland County.”

The municipality’s strengths include taking part in the climate transitions cohort, and having the Whole Learning Alliance, which is focused on engaging and coordinating sustainability groups.

Its weaknesses include not having a committee devoted to the climate and environment, nor a member of council liaising with the cohort.  The alliance also lacks funding to develop collaboration and networks in support of community sustainability initiatives.

The strategic plan currently being developed represents an opportunity, as does an active transportation study that’s underway. Trent Hills is also meeting targets set in its corporate energy management policy to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

The community foundation, which now includes Northumberland in its name, has long supported environment-related projects, having given out $734,247 between 2003 and 2021.

Schaeffer said municipalities have a key role to play in increasing adaptation to climate change, through land use policies and planning, community infrastructure and design, agriculture, community, energy and environmental initiatives, and economic development.

She cited a new report released by the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit that detailed the “negative impact” a failure to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions will have “on the health of residents, especially those most vulnerable without focused and collaborative efforts to increase adaptive capacity.”

The Climate Change Health Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment said projections show there will be three times as many hot days by 2050 “without significant emission reductions”; extreme weather events will continue to result in flooding, power outages, wild fires and severe storms; longer warm seasons will “create more favourable conditions for the survival and reproduction of insects that carry diseases”;  existing allergies and respiratory illnesses will worsen and the risk of heart disease and stroke will increase with air pollutants, and; people who work and play outdoors, especially children and youth, will have greater exposure to solar UV radiation.

Schaeffer said the Whole Learning Alliance will be hosting a Flourishing Community Zone at the Incredible Edibles Festival July 8 to engage community and support sustainability leadership groups across Northumberland, including public health.





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