Climate Change and Extreme Weather

The Region of Waterloo recognizes the effects that climate change, severe weather and poor air quality can have on our community. Regional Council has committed to improving air quality and our community's ability to accept and respond to climate change and severe weather through actions in the 2015-2018 Strategic Plan.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the Region of Waterloo 

As a municipality, the Region has direct influence the buildings, vehicles, infrastructure and services that it owns and operates. To address these sources of greenhouse gas emissions, the Region has a corporate greenhouse gas emissions action plan. The plan has a target to reduce corporate greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent below 2009 levels by 2019. This target was made as part of a commitment to the nationwide Federation of Canadian Municipalities' Partners for Climate Protection program, and to the Sustainable Waterloo Region Carbon Initiative. Check out our progress in 2012-2015 Corporate Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan Progress Report

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the community

Greenhouse gas emissions across Waterloo Region are influenced by a wide variety activities, people, infrastructure and businesses. The Region of Waterloo has indirect influence on the community's greenhouse gas emissions through Regional policy and local land use, transportation patterns and economic development.

The Region also participates on the Management Committee of ClimateActionWR, a local collaboration of municipal governments, local organizations and community members. The Region advises on and supports programs that help to reduce the community's carbon footprint. The Region, in partnership with ClimateActionWR, has set a target to reduce Waterloo Region's greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent below 2010 levels by 2020. This commitment was unanimously endorsed by the Cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo. Check out the community greenhouse gas emissions inventory for 2015, which includes a comparison to the 2010 inventory.

 

Local climate change impacts

Despite local and international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, our community can expect to be affected by various impacts related to climate change, including changes to:

  • Temperature
  • Rain and snow
  • Extreme weather

Check out the University of Waterloo's climate infographic for more details. This graphic, and underlying climate projections study were jointly funded by the Region of Waterloo and the Cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo.

These changes impact our community in a variety of ways. Some of the recent events affecting this region included:

  • Wind gusts of up to 122 km/h in May 2018 damaged trees and street lights, and caused thousands of power outages across Waterloo Region
  • Heavy ice and winds caused more than $85 million in insured damages across Ontario and Quebec on April 16, 2018
  • Significant local flooding in February 2018 caused by a combination of unusually warm weather, snowmelt and an extended rain event
  • Extreme cold temperatures in December 2017 causing increased water main breaks, also breaking the 1917 record for coldest temperature ever recorded in Waterloo Region
  • In June 2017, record-breaking rainfall of around 100mm fell in only 2 hours, overwhelming reservoirs and causing areas of significant flooding in Waterloo Region

Climate change also affects the overall health of our community. In 2022, Public Health released a Climate Change and Health Vulnerability Assessment that outlines the current and projected local health impacts of climate change. Visit Climate Change and Health for more information on current climate-related health initiatives and to read the assessment.

The Region is leading the development of a Community Climate Adaptation Plan. This will help assess local vulnerability and risks to climate change and extreme weather events. The plan will also encourage community collaboration to help reduce the severity or likelihood of these risks. Through this effort, Waterloo Region will join communities around the world that are working to improve their resiliency to climate change and severe weather.

Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts on the draft Community Climate Adaptation Plan, which was available for public input between August 14 and October 7, 2019. We have reviewed your feedback and prepared a revised version - approved by Regional Council on November 13, 2019.

If you have questions regarding this plan, please contact sustainability@regionofwaterloo.ca.

For details on how the impacts of climate change and extreme weather were prioritized for the action planning, refer to the Risk Assessment Report.

 

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