How to evaluate municipal climate action

4-minute read

Highlight achievements, assess best practices, and provide direction for future emission mitigation actions by monitoring, measuring and reporting on your municipal climate action projects.

Achieve your climate action plan by assessing progress towards local emission reduction targets and measuring the impact of actions. By helping you determine whether your initiatives are working and if you will meet your targets, monitoring helps direct future emission mitigation actions.

You can also take this time to identify your best practices and celebrate success. Reporting can be used to connect with your local stakeholders and build support for future projects.

Tip: Join the Action Centre and Michael Hay, Manager, Environment and Sustainability, Town of Banff on November 24 in a webinar on monitoring, measuring, and reporting on climate action progress through the Partners for Climate Protection Program.

How to monitor, measure, and report on progress

There are four steps to monitoring and reporting:

1. Track the results of specific emissions reduction measures

Quantify the reduction in energy consumed or waste generated because of your actions. Then calculate the quantity of GHG emissions that were avoided. For example, if you are attempting to assess the benefits of an energy efficiency project in a recreation facility, you start by monitoring energy use and measuring the energy performance of the facility post retrofit.

Determine the difference between the facility’s energy consumption before and after the retrofit to understand the energy reduction and calculate the emissions that are avoided.

2. Update the inventory

To understand if your municipality is moving towards or away from your corporate and community goals, you need to periodically update your emissions inventory. An updated inventory can be compared to the baseline to assess performance in emission reduction.

The Partners for Climate Protection program suggests updating your inventory every three to five years, to ensure there is enough time to adjust your local action plan if needed. While tracking specific actions tells you if they are individually effective at emissions reduction, updating the inventory helps account for outside factors contributing to your emissions profile. Factors could include changes in population growth, economic development, legislation and public behaviour.

Tip: Be sure to use the same data collection methods to update the inventory as you used to initially create the inventory. Ensuring methodological consistency between years increasing the accuracy of your inventory.

3. Engage stakeholders and decision-makers

As you engage with local stakeholders and decision-makers during the planning and implementation stages, it is important to communicate the results of your actions. Consider using various public awareness campaigns, social media, online engagements, and communication strategies, to connect with diverse stakeholders.

4. Documentation

Climate action updates or progress reports can support internal requirements such as grant reporting, project monitoring, and council updates. Documentation also connects to external stakeholder engagement, creating an opportunity for your municipality to share its story.

Reporting to your stakeholders provides them with the results of the processes to which they contributed and can help you earn support for future initiatives. Municipalities that are members for the Partners for Climate Protection program have committed to reporting on activities to local stakeholders and to Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

Examples on monitoring, measuring, and reporting

For PCP member municipalities, reporting to FCM ensures consistency among members, and informs the creation of a national report on PCP achievements.

Annual updates are shared through the National Measures Report which features case studies and highlights of corporate initiatives, which target emissions from municipal operations and services, and community-wide initiatives, which target emissions from the community at large.

Through the Partners for Climate Protection program, several municipalities in Alberta have achieved Milestone 5 of the program, verifying their work to monitor progress and report results:

Tip: Explore a map of PCP member municipalities and milestones they have completed

Continuous Improvement Process

Reaching your emission reduction target, completing the climate action plans, and receiving a Milestone 5 recognition are all significant achievements! Take time to reflect on the climate progress made and celebrate.

However, emission reduction efforts do not end here. A new target can be set, one that strives for deeper emissions reductions. Your updated emission inventory can now replace the baseline condition for a new plan, building upon your achievements across corporate operations and the community at large.

Partners for Climate Protection can support your continued progress through the renewal of milestones achievements.

Get Started

Join the Partners for Climate Protection Program.  The PCP program helps your municipality do its part. It consists of a five-step Milestone Framework that guides you as you take action against climate change by reducing emissions in your municipality. The Action Centre supports municipalities like yours by providing advice, tools, workshops, and more.

Join over 400 municipalities across Canada participating in the Partners for Climate Protection Program.

Author: Ronak Patel, Energy and Climate Change Advisor

Interested in seeing real savings?

Contact the Action Centre to get started.