Community Energy and Emissions Plan
The Community Energy and Emissions Plan is a long-term plan to meet Hamilton’s future energy needs while improving energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fostering local sustainable and community-supported energy solutions. The plan includes every aspect of city-wide energy use and GHG emissions, from homes to transportation to industry to waste.
In 2019, Council declared a Climate Change Emergency and directed staff to identify and investigate actions to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. ReCharge Hamilton is a Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP) that lays out a major component of the City’s strategy for responding to the climate emergency.
ReCharge Hamilton identifies a pathway to net zero GHG emissions by 2050 that increases the resilience of the energy system and improves economic prosperity for all. Drawing on a history of work, policies, and initiatives in this area, ReCharge Hamilton builds on Hamilton’s historic and current strengths as an industrial leader in the midst of a rich natural environment, and as a caring community.
The actions proposed in this plan have been organized to focus on 5 key low-carbon transformations that will be pivotal in achieving Hamilton’s low-carbon future.
Hamilton has long been an industrial hub for one of Canada’s most carbon-intensive primary industries: steel. This industry represents over half of the City’s emissions today.
Supporting and encouraging industrial efforts to decarbonize is key to achieving the City’s targets. This means encouraging businesses and industry groups to adopt organizational netzero targets, tracking progress towards those targets, connecting industry with resources, and engaging other levels of government for support. This includes establishing a net-zero working group for local industry stakeholders, and the creation of a cleantech accelerator to expedite low-carbon technology development and increase industry access to upcoming technology.
For the steel industry, it will mean switching from coal to emission-free alternatives, like sustainably sourced biochar or green hydrogen. For other industries, the focus will be on improving energy efficiency using new and emerging technologies and fuel-switching to clean energy sources.
By 2050 in the BAP scenario, residential and commercial buildings are projected to represent the second largest source of emissions in Hamilton, primarily from the use of natural gas for space and water heating, particularly in older, more inefficient homes.
This plan features a comprehensive energy efficiency and fuel switching building retrofit program. This fuel switching will primarily serve to replace natural gas furnaces with electric heat pumps. The program will aim to cover most of the City of Hamilton by 2050. This plan also recommends partnering with local institutions, labour associations, and not-for-profits to ensure that appropriate education and training programs are in place to prepare the labour force for the proposed mass building retrofits.
This plan will also recommend the creation of comprehensive sustainable building and development guidelines, which will help increase the energy efficiency and decrease the GHG impact of new development. There are various examples of such guidelines throughout Ontario. This will also limit the need for new buildings to be retrofitted in the future.
Closely following buildings, fossil-fuel combustion in cars, trucks, and buses are estimated to account for about 19% of the City’s GHG emissions in 2016, and decline slightly to 17% of Hamilton’s emissions in a BAP scenario by 2050.
To achieve net-zero in this sector, the City will play a key role: expanding active transportation, e-mobility and transit networks, decarbonizing their fleet and transit, and by ensuring the City is designed to support electric vehicle adoption by creating a City-wide EV Strategy that will provide a comprehensive overview of how the City can support the uptake of EVs and encourage the private sector to do so as well. The City and it’s partners will also work with commercial fleet owners to form a community of best practice to share information, support the setting of fleet net-zero targets, track progress towards them, and help connect businesses with resources.
ReCharge Hamilton prioritizes maximizing energy efficiency. Then, the plan relies on fuel switching away from gasoline, diesel, coal, and natural gas to renewable electricity, renewable natural gas, and green hydrogen to achieve net-zero emissions.
Where possible, the production of local renewable electricity is best, as it helps support local economic development and energy independence. Hamilton has access to a wealth of untapped energy and renewable energy resources. For example, the low-carbon model includes:
- Industrial residual heat;
- Rooftop and ground mount solar energy;
- Wind; and
- Biogas from the decomposition of household organic waste. These combine to meet about 7% of the City’s energy needs. Additional renewable energy capacity is available, for example from large-scale wind (inside or outside the City boundaries) along with agricultural and institutional organic waste.
This plan recommends a review of planning and regulatory documents to remove regulatory and policy barriers to the establishment of renewable energy projects, while also encouraging innovative, local ownership structures for these projects. ReCharge Hamilton will also recommend that the City, with its partners, further investigate renewable sources of energy, such as those originating from industrial residual heat, household organics and green hydrogen. This includes exploring the creation of a “hydrogen hub” in Hamilton.
Green space defines Hamilton; it is a lifeline for local wildlife, water quality, and resident wellbeing and health. Continuing to protect and expand these natural areas is an important part of achieving net zero, as trees and healthy soil are an important source of carbon sequestration. ReCharge Hamilton will focus on preserving and expanding the City’s tree canopy cover, which helps sequester carbon, while providing significant co-benefits such as moderating microclimates, providing stormwater storage, improving air quality, and enhancing energy efficiency.
This plan proposes to plant 50,000 trees per year across the entire community, Including efforts from the City, local Conservation Authorities, the general public and the private and not-for-profit sectors. The City will also ensure it’s land use planning policies and regulations preserve the City’s existing tree canopy cover wherever possible.
Survey data was collected between June and December of 2020 to help identify the low-carbon actions that could be taken to assist the City of Hamilton in achieving its target of net-zero emissions by 2050. These surveys also told us about what is important to you when considering low-carbon actions. Review a brief summary of the survey results(PDF, 171.49 KB)
The feedback from the surveys helped identify and prioritize proposed low-carbon actions.
The Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) is a non-political advisory body with a mandate to provide a forum for feedback, guidance and advice to the City Staff Project Team and Consultant Team at key points during the process of developing the Community Energy and Emissions Plan. To date, the City Staff Project Team has met twice with the Stakeholder Advisory Committee.
What is climate change?
Climate change refers to changes in long-term weather patterns caused by natural phenomena and human activities that alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere through the build-up of greenhouse gases which trap heat and reflect it back to the earth’s surface.Learn more about climate change
What is a greenhouse gas (GHG)?
A GHG (greenhouse gas) is any gas in the atmosphere that absorbs infrared radiation, thereby trapping and holding heat in the atmosphere. By increasing the heat in the atmosphere, GHGs lead to global warming. For more information, visit davidsuzuki.org.
What is climate change adaptation?
Adaptation to climate change refers to any action or initiative taken that can help prepare, prevent or reduce the vulnerability of social, economic, built and natural systems to the changing climate conditions.
What is climate change mitigation?
Climate change mitigation refers to the actions we can take to stabilize or reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These could include establishing policies, programs and undertaking actions that promote or require certain practices that reduce energy use and GHG emissions. Actions could include taking active or public transportation, buying an electric vehicle, building energy efficient buildings, retrofitting existing buildings, etc.
What are the main sources of GHGs in our city?
The three largest sources of emissions in Hamilton are:
- Industry at approximately 64%
- Transportation at approximately 19%
- Buildings (commercial and residential) approximately 14%
For more information please refer to the Baseline and Business-As-Planned Report.
How have we done so far in reducing GHGs in our City?
Hamilton has been tracking community GHG emission sources since 2006. It is estimated that as of 2017 Hamilton had reduced its emissions by approximately 33% from its 2006 baseline. This however is mainly due to the provincial government decision on phasing out coal within Ontario’s electricity grid and remains the largest reduction in GHG emissions across the Province.
What is City Council’s Climate Change Emergency declaration?
City Council’s Climate Change Emergency Declaration re-affirms the City’s commitment to fighting climate change. City Council ratified the climate change emergency declaration on March 27, 2019 and directed staff to form a cross-department Corporate Climate Change Task Force and to identify and investigate actions to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Read the emergency declaration in the Council Minutes of March 27, 2019 - Accelerating and Prioritizing Climate Action in Response to the Climate Emergency (pages 13)
How does the Community Energy and Emissions Plan fit in with Hamilton’s overall climate change goals?
Hamilton is in the process of completing a climate adaptation plan, with the intent of preparing the city for future climatic events and changes. Adaptation and mitigation actions work hand in hand. The Community Energy and Emissions Plan will provide a long-term climate mitigation plan to reduce Hamilton’s GHG emissions, and as a result, reduce its contribution to global climate change.