The City of Guelph has been hailed as a leader in climate action since the release of its Community Energy Initiative 15 years ago. Has it become a laggard?

With a large amount of community support, City Council committed to have climate targets established by this month. Surprisingly, the report (Cities Race-to-Zero Four-Year Interim Targets) blatantly ignores 97% of the climate change pollution in the city.

It was supposed to outline four-year interim targets set in 2026 and 2030, which align with the city’s pledge (last December) to the United Nations Cities Race to Zero campaign.

Many pieces of the report remain unclear or missing altogether.

However, they did well to clarify the responsibility of the Corporation of the City of Guelph (Corporate) in climate action but failed to meaningfully include the city’s responsibility to the rest of the community (Community), which makes up more than 97% of city-wide GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. 


Note: 2020 Total Community GHG emissions = 775,887 tonnes CO2 equivalent. “Corporate” refers only to the “Corporation of the City of Guelph”

Moreover, the city did not show us how the money will be allocated to reach net-zero by 2050 (or sooner). The report itself stated that capital and operating budgets are required to reduce corporate and community GHG emissions. However, specific mention of climate change mitigation (prevention) and budgeting was not discussed.

In addition, it expresses a clear lack of discussion on equity, diversity, and inclusion, which the city pledged to under the Cities Race to Zero campaign. 

The language used within the report insinuates that community GHG reduction is the responsibility of ‘broader community stakeholders.’ This is very concerning.

The municipality must take an active, direct role in implementing and supporting the work of the community to reduce GHG emissions, which includes setting interim targets for both the city (corporate) and the community.

According to the Community Energy Initiative:

  • The responsibility of public authorities to be fully engaged with the goals of the community cannot be overestimated.
  • Managing the community’s energy future and addressing climate change are foundational to the day-to-day work of the municipality.
  • Financing community energy initiatives is the role of the municipality.

And in case they’ve forgotten, they have also acknowledged a climate emergency.

A recent update to the Cities Race to Zero criteria stated that cities committing to net-zero must include ‘all scopes of emissions” within their interim and long-term targets.

This raises some questions:

  • Has the City of Guelph abandoned responsibility for community wide action on climate change?
  • Why is the city prioritizing climate action on less than 3% of the total emissions in Guelph?
  • How will the city ensure that Guelph becomes a net-zero community by 2050, as promised?
  • When will the city show us the money?

Let your Mayor and Councilors know what you think. Find out how to reach them here.

1 thought on “Has Guelph Abandoned Climate Change?”

  1. Maggie Laidlaw

    Of course the city has abandoned its climate change responsibility! In order to fully embrace all aspects of community wide action on climate change, a city requires a leader who a) recognises that a warming climate is an existential problem, i.e. is not a climate change denier and b) has a vision on how to move their city forward in reaching promised goals vis-a-vis emission reduction, funding of climate initiatives, energising their community to embrace climate change initiatives, etc. Guelph’s current mayor is a Conservative supporter of Doug Ford, who rolled back at least 25 environmental initiatives of the previous Liberal govt. The mayor has exhibited climate change denier beliefs in the past and has done little to maintain Guelph’s former stellar environmental reputation. Without a leader who is fully committed to climate change initiatives, staff will revert to their usual “path of least resistance” mode of operation, and this report is a prime example of that MO.

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42 Carden Street, 
Guelph, ON N1H 3A2
[email protected]

eMERGE Guelph fights climate change by energizing the community to achieve 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.

42 Carden Street, 
Guelph, ON N1H 3A2
[email protected]

eMERGE Guelph fights climate change by energizing the community to achieve 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.

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