City aims to drastically slash greenhouse emissions by 2050

The city of Hamilton has a new climate change target — reducing its emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
The city has set bold new targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (LM Otero/Associated Press)

The city of Hamilton has a new climate change target — reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Hamilton by 80 per cent by 2050.

The city breezed past its 2012 emissions target, which was reducing its 2005 emissions by 10 per cent. It’s already met its 2020 target, which is a 20-per-cent reduction. Now it’s upping its game, said Brian Montgomery, the city’s air quality co-ordinator.

Source of Hamilton's greenhouse gas emissions (2011)

Industry: 57%

Steel industry: 31%

Residences: 4%

Transportation: 4%

Commercial: 3%

Municipal: 1%

Total: 17,835,696 metric tonnes

Source: City of Hamilton

“If we achieved that, why not go for 80 per cent by 2050 and be in line with other (Federation of Canada Municipalities) municipalities, Ontario and cities like Halifax,” he said.

Montgomery updated the city’s board of health at a meeting on Monday. The board approved the new target with little discussion.

It’s an aggressive target, said Lynda Lukasik, executive director at Environment Hamilton. But it should be.

“There were concerns that the first round of targets weren’t aggressive enough, but any sort of move to tighten up is good,” she said.

“This is a huge issue and we should have adopted an aggressive target yesterday."

The target incorporates all activities including city operations, transportation, industry and individual lifestyle choices.

Green energy will be a big factor in meeting the 2050 target, Montgomery said. The city will also encourage people to grow their own food, eat local produce and move to electric or hybrid vehicles.

The city is getting greener — installing solar panels on buildings, making water pumping stations more efficient and other efforts, Montgomery said.

Council will ratify the board of health decision Wednesday. After that happens, Montgomery’s office will set interim targets to meet along the way.

Hamiltonians are already noticing the daily affects of climate change, Lukasik said. The most noticeable is recent flooding.

“There are some very direct and personal impacts,” she said. “I think we’re going to see more of those kinds of problems moving forward. Hamiltonians need to be talking about this and making the connection.”

The majority of Hamilton’s greenhouse gas emissions are from industry. Local industries contributed 57 per cent of the emissions in 2011, the steel industry 31 per cent, and residences four per cent.

The city has partnered with McMaster University to launch a climate change community action map. Montgomery encourages residents to document their environmental efforts on the map.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.