Increasing Affordability Through Municipal Climate Action

Posted on August 25, 2023
By Laura Schnurr

Protesters with signs at a demonstration.

Tamarack has partnered with Climate Caucus, Climate Reality Project Canada, Clean Air Partnership and David Suzuki Foundation to host an 8-part webinar and publication series “Increasing Affordability Through Municipal Climate Action” running from September 2023 to May 2024. Learn more and register here.  

This resource is also available in French. Click here to access the French version.


Rising Costs and Changing Climate Deeply Intertwined   

The affordability crisis has had a real impact on Canadians’ financial security and wellbeing. According to a June 2023 Ipsos study, eight in ten Canadians are concerned about rising everyday costs which are having wide-ranging effects, from the ability to pay for essentials like food and gas to saving for retirement. Youth and low-income Canadians are feeling inflation and higher borrowing costs most acutely.  

As climate change continues to worsen, so too will affordability challenges. For example, changing weather patterns are already impacting crop yields and leading to food shortages, which is driving up inflation.  

If we fail to take action to mitigate further climate change, we will face tremendous costs down the line that will be potentially catastrophic for Canada’s economy and society. The Canadian Climate Institute has documented these risks in their 5-part series The Costs of Climate Change 

The federal government has recognized these challenges and introduced the Climate Action Incentive Program as a means to make life more affordable while fighting climate change.  

Opportunities Abound to Simultaneously Tackle the Affordability and Climate Crises  

Contrary to what some politicians claim, we don’t have to choose between achieving greater affordability and taking climate action. There are many examples of how these goals can be pursued in tandem, from building affordable and sustainable housing, tackling energy poverty, reducing the cost of public and active transportation, increasing access to locally grown food, and reducing waste. Existing initiatives include:  

  • Energy Empower Me delivers free programming and education to newcomers to Canada to support them to save energy, save money, protect the environment, and increase the comfort and safety of their homes. 
  • TransportationThe free transit movement is gaining speed across Canada with many cities and communities (like Canmore, Victoria, Regina, Calgary and Montreal) introducing free public transit for certain populations or on certain lines.   
  • Circular economy and waste Members of the Circular Cities and Regions Initiative are developing local initiatives that support more responsible production and consumption, resulting in reduced costs for people and environmental protection.  
  • Housing – Communities across the country are addressing housing affordability challenges in ways that support sustainability and a healthy planet.   

The McConnell Foundation is supporting a Climate and Affordability Task Force to demonstrate that tackling climate can also make life more affordable for Canadians and develop policy recommendations in support of these goals.  

Meanwhile, Tamarack has partnered with several other organizations to dive deeper into these opportunities in an 8-part webinar series, with sessions on buildings, energy, food security, nature-based solutions, zero waste and circular economy, transportation, and governance.  


Learn more and register:  

Climate Change, Homepage, CCT blog, Climate Transitions

Laura Schnurr

By Laura Schnurr

Laura leads Tamarack's work on Climate Transitions and Sustainable Development Goals. She is passionate about supporting cities and communities in their journeys towards ensuring a just, equitable and sustainable future for the next 7 generations and beyond. Through events, publications, communities of practice and other learning opportunities, Laura is helping advance the 2030 Agenda in Canada with a specific focus on the goals related to equity and climate change.

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