Hasn’t the climate always been changing? Why do we need to worry now?

    It’s true, the Earth’s climate has always fluctuated … BUT, human activity has drastically increased the rate of climate change, making it difficult for us to adapt. 

    Over Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history, the climate has changed a lot. However, the rapid warming we are experiencing now can’t be explained by natural cycles of warming and cooling, and, changes that would normally happen over hundreds of thousands of years are now happening in decades. 

    In 2020, atmospheric carbon dioxide, the gas contributing most to climate change, reached 409.8 parts per million, a concentration higher than any point in the past 800,000 years. The speed of the current changes in climate is far more rapid than past events. This makes it difficult for human societies and the natural world to adapt.

    Dufferin is a small municipality. Why is it so important for us to act on climate change?

    There are multiple answers to this … which makes a strong argument for climate action!

    • According to FCM, Canadian municipalities can directly or indirectly control about 50% of emissions in Canada – that’s a big impact! We have a responsibility to join in the collective global effort to address climate change – everyone has a role, big or small. Federal and provincial governments, as well as many of our neighbouring municipalities in Ontario (and across the County) have already adopted climate action plans and it’s time for Dufferin to join the climate movement.


    • To reduce risks and take advantage of opportunities, we must adapt. Even if we are not responsible for a large percentage of Canada’s or global emissions, climate change will impact us nevertheless. Mitigation – reducing our local emissions – is key, but adaptation is equally as important. To ensure Dufferin remains a desirable place to live, it is necessary that we prepare for and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.


    • There is a significant economic opportunity associated with climate action. For example, in Ontario, between 2017 -2030 we will see an average increase of $12.5 billion in GDP and 52,900 jobs per year just from the energy efficiency sector (Government of Canada).

    • Climate action benefits the community, regardless of climate change. The Dufferin Climate Action Plan includes what are called, “no regrets” actions. These are actions that, in addition to their impact on climate change, bring a variety of co-benefits to our community around public health and safety, equity, community connectedness, the environment, and the economy.

    How were the climate actions proposed in the Dufferin Climate Action Plan selected?

    The actions selected for the Dufferin Climate Action Plan began with research of evidence-based best practices from academia, other municipalities, and cities. Dufferin’s greenhouse gas inventory was also an important indicator of where climate mitigation efforts should be focused.

    In the summer of 2020, Climate Action in Dufferin conducted a survey on Join in Dufferin, asking community members what climate actions were most important to them. These insights were used to refine and prioritize actions in the plan.

    The Dufferin County Climate Change Collaborative (DC4) undertook a deliberative process to refine and prioritize actions in the plan to guide the direction of climate action in Dufferin County. This process was steered by several criteria, which guided decision-making and the identification of actions that:

    • Have the potential to contribute to significant reductions of local GHG emissions

    • Are both financially and logistically feasible

    • Support justice and equity in the community

    • Complement existing plans and priorities

    • Can be implemented through the leveraging of available funds and resources

    • Can be implemented in collaboration with one or more community partners

    • Benefit both urban and rural communities

    • Create co-benefits within the community for public safety, health and well-being, environment, community building, economic development


    What is the role of the County in influencing climate action in the community?

    Municipalities are estimated to be able to directly or indirectly influence 50% of emissions in Canada (FCM).

    At the County level, we can directly influence our own emissions – our buildings, our fleets, and our purchasing practices. These are actions we will address in the forthcoming Corporate Climate Action Plan.

    Through different tools, like policy, programs, planning, and financial incentives we can help make the climate-friendly choice, convenient, affordable, and ultimately more desirable than greenhouse gas intensive behaviors or systems.  

    However, as the graphic below indicates, there are very few things the County has direct control over. This means that a community-wide effort to tackle climate change is the key to the success of the Dufferin Climate Action Plan.

    What does 20% sequestered or offset mean for our 2050 target of greenhouse gas neutrality?

    Sequestration = The process of storing greenhouse gases in a sink. A carbon sink is a reservoir (natural or human, in soil, oceans, and plants) where greenhouses gas is stored.

    Offset = The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to compensate for (“offset”) emissions made elsewhere.

    Dufferin County has a wealth of agricultural land and these soils can play a significant role in our greenhouse gas reduction efforts. 

    Soil carbon sequestration and the conservation of existing soil carbon stocks, given its multiple benefits, including improved food production, will be an important mitigation pathway to reach our 2050 target. Currently, there is general agreement that the technical potential for sequestration of carbon in soil is significant. It is expected that future technical advances will help us to measure the ability of the soil to capture carbon locally. Tree planting will also be an important sequestration strategy in Dufferin, as it has the dual benefit of both capturing carbon and enhancing the health and sequestration abilities of the soil. 

    How can I get involved?

    To achieve Dufferin’s GHG reduction targets, climate action must be a community priority and undertaken by a variety of local actors from local municipalities to residents, businesses, organizations, and industry stakeholders.  

    There are a few different ways you can get involved:

    Participate in the Dufferin County Climate Change Collaborative and/or Climate Ambassadors program (Forthcoming). There will be multiple levels of involvement available so community members can participate according to their own desire/capacity.

    Participate in individual actions in the plan as they occur. For instance, participate in upcoming projects and programs to make your home climate resilient and energy efficient. Or, you can simply take advantage of new developments, like bike lanes or improved trail connectivity. The County’s goal is to create opportunities to participate in climate action as part of your daily life.

    Connect with us to support your own ideas/projects – This is a COMMUNITY Climate Action Plan. While the County is taking a leadership role, we also want to support your ideas and initiatives in the community.

    Attend engagement events and take advantage of resources. In the future we will have educational events, online resources, and co-learning opportunities that you, your family, and friends can participate in.

    Talk about climate change. While this may seem like a small action, normalizing conversations about climate change, how it impacts us, and what we can do, helps build a community culture around climate action. This is a strong foundation from which we can implement solutions and move towards a climate-friendly future.