- Low Carbon Resilience
- Natural Solutions Initiative
Phase 1: Prepare
The first phase of the LCR approach is to identify a strong climate champion who will guide the LCR process. The LCR Champion will take stock of the climate action landscape, identify any gaps in the community's data, and explore opportunities for synergies. In addition, the Champion will ensure that all of the relevant departments and staff understand the benefits of the LCR approach. These benefits include the cost-savings from streamlined planning and the avoided costs of damage from future climate impacts.
It is important for the Champion to have one-on-one conversations with senior leaders across the organization to identify the linkages between climate action and various departments' mandates and work plans. This will also build support for the LCR planning process and ensure the participation of relevant decision-makers and staff. In particular, these conversations should aim to develop the LCR narrative along the following lines:
Improving community resilience to climate change and reducing emissions are not simply “important goals”; rather, they are fundamental to ensuring the effectiveness of all municipal decisions and investments over time.
The LCR Planning Handbook includes multiple references to ICLEI Canada’s Building Adaptive and Resilient Communities (BARC) Online Tool and the Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) Milestone Framework. For communities that are following ICLEI Canada’s BARC Framework, this Phase aligns with Milestone 1. Please note that only registered municipalities can obtain the BARC Worksheets referenced in this Handbook.
- The LCR approach challenges local governments to reconsider how they operate. This will require spirited commitment from the LCR Champion to establish the relevance, credibility, and legitimacy of the LCR approach. In particular, the Champion must communicate effectively about the rationale for LCR across disciplines and mandates.
- LCR Tip: Use a systems thinking approach to articulate the importance of reducing climate risk and emissions across municipal departments. Collaborate with relevant leaders and staff to evaluate systemic linkages between LCR objectives and existing municipal mandates and workplans. This will help you identify strategic and practical opportunities for effective climate action. See page 28 of the LCR Planning Handbook to learn more about the skillset of an LCR Champion.
- Keep the Momentum: Familiarize yourself with leading-edge LCR approaches and actions. Explore and share ACT’s LCR resources to bolster understanding of this innovative approach to climate action (see LCR Tools, Snapshots, and Resources here).
data_check 1.1 Step Check
- Identify an effective LCR Champion
- In the first phase of the LCR process, it is important to assess what climate actions the community has already implemented - i.e., 'taking stock' of the climate action landscape. This includes identifying all existing adaptation and/or mitigation plans as well as any other assessments, plans, and projects that either directly or indirectly relate to climate change. By compiling this information in a database, the LCR Champion will be able to identify both gaps in the data and opportunities for synergies across departments. This will facilitate a ‘build on’ effect by framing the need for more systemic climate action to augment the work that has already been done. For a complete list of the relevant plans and studies that should be assessed, see page 30 of the LCR Planning Handbook.
- LCR Tip: Develop a 'Taking Stock' spreadsheet to organize a database of existing climate-relevant work. This database can be used to identify data gaps as well as to coordinate action by evaluating opportunities for cross-departmental synergies. The information gathered here is critical for Workshop 1: Framing the LCR Opportunity.
- Keep the Momentum: See a template of the 'Taking Stock' spreadsheet below.
data_check 1.2 Step Check
- Complete a 'Taking Stock' spreadsheet
- The strategy behind the LCR approach is to coordinate data collection for both adaptation (risk and vulnerability) and mitigation (emissions) in order to streamline resources, prevent contradictory planning, and save local governments time and money. This will catalyze more systemic decision-making to climate-proof communities and build resilience over time (see the LCR Quadrant Diagram above). For this step, it is important to determine the current state of the community's climate data. In particular, has the local government completed:
- A Risk and Vulnerability Assessment?
- A Corporate and Community Energy and Emissions Inventory and Forecast?
If the answer to either of these questions is 'no', then the missing assessment(s) will need to be completed. Alternatively, if the reports exist but are more than five years old, then they will need to be updated. The data from these assessments will be essential for comprehensive climate action planning.
However, the LCR Champion should remind leaders and decision-makers that this data also has significance beyond climate action. For instance, it may inform decisions about retrofitting critical assets/infrastructure, be incorporated into emergency response plans, or influence planning with respect to transportation, land-use, and poverty reduction. By including climate risk and emissions data in all corporate mandates, goals, and decision-making processes, community planning will be more effective in the face of long-term climate trends while also improving resilience and sustainability. To learn about the requirements for a risk and vulnerability assessment as well as a corporate and/or community energy and emissions inventory and forecast, see page 33 of the LCR Planning Handbook.
- LCR Tip: The ideal course of action is to determine a community’s risks and vulnerabilities before commencing mitigation planning. Some climate adaptation techniques, such as relying on air conditioners in a heat wave or expanding drainage systems to cope with increasing rainfall, can have major implications for the community's emissions profile into the future. An emissions forecast will identify these potential sources of emissions and improve understanding of the community's projected emissions profile. This information can reveal key opportunities for low or zero-carbon adaptation options, such as nature-based solutions.
- Keep the Momentum: Consolidate these findings into the Taking Stock spreadsheet from Step 1.2 to prepare for Workshop 1: Framing the LCR Opportunity.
data_check 1.3 Step Check
- Determine if your organization has completed a Risk and Vulnerability Assessment as well as a Corporate and Community Emissions Inventory and Forecast in the last five years. If not, these assessments will need to be included in the resource requirements for Step 1.4.
- The outcomes from Steps 1.1-1.3 above will help the LCR Champion identify data gaps and determine if external support is required. Due to capacity and/or technical limitations, local governments often hire consultants to perform Risk and Vulnerability Assessments as well as Corporate and Community Emissions Inventories and Forecasts. The ideal way to streamline limited resources and optimize staff capacity for climate planning is to issue an integrated Request for Proposal/Quotation (RFP/RFQ) that calls for both adaptation and mitigation specialists. This will align the consultants' efforts in an LCR planning process by facilitating the exchange of information between them. Through this process, the consultants will be able to identify strategic actions that reduce both climate risks and carbon emissions. In addition, this will prevent contradictory actions (between adaptation and mitigation plans) or, at least, the consultants will be able to examine trade-offs between different options. The LCR Champion should lead the planning process and work directly with the consultants to ensure that all relevant staff and stakeholders are at the table.
- LCR Tip: The City of Port Moody issued an RFQ for adaptation and mitigation consultants which specified that the applicants must be willing to collaborate and learn from one another in the co-development of an LCR Climate Action Plan. For more information about Port Moody's process, see Case Example 1 on page 24 of the LCR Handbook.
- Keep the Momentum: To pay for consultants, first try to identify internal funding sources. Then, look to external organizations such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and reports such as the Community Energy Associations’ 2020 Funding Guide for B.C. Local Governments or the ACT 2019 Paying for Urban Infrastructure Adaptation in Canada report for information on external funding.
data_check 1.4 Step Check
- Identify resource requirements and funding sources for external supports, such as consultants.
Leveraging Existing Climate Action in the City of Nelson
The City of Nelson, in British Columbia, has long been a climate mitigation leader. As one example, the City has committed to reaching 100% renewable energy by 2050. To achieve this goal, the LCR Champion (the City's Climate Change Coordinator) worked alongside ICABCCI to develop an integrated climate plan that coordinated the collection of both risk and emissions data. This plan included establishing a cross-departmental team to co-evaluate ‘bigger win’ LCR actions for the City.
To develop the plan, the Champion began by taking stock of the City’s extensive climate work, including policies, plans, programs, and projects. Through this process, she not only identified strategies that were related to adaptation and/or mitigation but also expanded her scope to include other relevant areas, such as emergency management and community health planning. This initial review highlighted the City's strength in mitigation planning, but it also revealed gaps in both the understanding and prioritization of climate risks.
While collecting these documents, the Champion also engaged with relevant actors across the organization to cultivate a deep familiarity with the City’s climate-related staff and work. This engagement helped to catalyze support for the LCR approach by initiating conversations with staff across departments and sparking their interest with respect to participating in the City's Climate Action Team.
For a sample Taking Stock spreadsheet, please click here.