Opinion: Climate ambition at its highest as Montreal organizations mobilize to fast-forward the city’s climate transition

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference is drawing to a close.

The event brought together representatives from 195 countries, thousands of scientists, businesses and delegates from around the world with the goal of accelerating climate transition and slowing global warming.

Meanwhile, in our very own city, it is clear that a culture of climate action is taking hold within the business community and civil society, as well as among elected officials.

Like other cities around the world, such as New York, Paris, London and Oslo, which, like us, are members of the Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and have ramped up their efforts, Montreal is building a low carbon future.

We are members of the Montreal Climate Partnership, an unprecedented group of some one hundred economic, philanthropic, institutional, and environmental organizations in Montreal.

Our shared goal is as simple as it is ambitious: fast-forward the decarbonization of Montreal and strengthen the city’s climate resilience within the timeframes set by climate scientists.

We are launching our Great Expectations: Fast-forward Montreal’s climate transition campaign as a call to mobilize our organizations and the entire Montreal community to make Montreal a resilient, low-carbon city.

We are encouraging all organizations in the city to take impactful action, improve their climate plans and shorten the timelines for the initiatives they already have planned.

Because our sphere of influence extends beyond our employees, clients and business partners, we, the organizations, will contribute to strengthening climate leadership in Montreal and, in doing so, consolidate our position as leaders in climate transition.

We believe that this collective commitment will lay the foundation for the economic, social and environmental development of the city from now on and for the next generation.

The sixth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the physical aspects of climate change, released this August, highlighted the key contribution of our organizations, large and small, and the entire system to minimizing the impacts of human activity on the planet.

This report stated that the only way to keep global warming below the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century is to immediately and aggressively cut GHG emissions to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

What lies ahead is more than a simple change to the status quo. We must rework our internal policies and business strategies, make behavioural changes and improve the acceptability of our projects.

These are investments that will bring significant returns. Not only do we need concrete changes to our business models and practices, but we also need to shorten the timeframe to get there.

While some organizations are pulling all the stops to do more, others are still hesitant. We invite them to join us in taking action.

In order to align ourselves with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the City of Montreal’s Climate Plan — and to ensure the sustainability of our businesses — we must leverage all our resources, starting today, to reduce the City of Montreal’s GHG emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 and put the city on the path to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

The task ahead of us may be daunting, but it is crucial. Montreal has a place among the cities that will lead the way to a low-carbon and resilient future.

It has everything it needs to make its mark, whether it is through its leadership in sustainable finance, its innovators, its university researchers, its citizen projects or its ecosystem of start-ups.

The Climate Partnership is betting that we will rise to the challenge of this generation by combining the expertise, creativity and commitment of all of us.

We are not all starting from the same place, but we can move our practices in the same direction, as long as the fight against climate change becomes a central and non-negotiable concern for our organizations at both the operational and strategic levels.

It is time for leaders to drive action in our organizations and make new commitments through the Montreal Climate Partnership climate commitment platform, launched this week.

This letter is signed by the member-partners of the Montreal Climate Partnership Steering Committee:

Julie Boucher, Vice President – Customer Experience, Communications and Community Relations, Hydro-Québec

Marie-Claude Bourgie, Executive Director, Greater Montreal Climate Fund

Janie C. Béïque, President and CEO, Fonds de solidarité FTQ

Graham Carr, President and Vice-Chancellor, Concordia University

Danielle Charest, President and CEO, Jalon

Geneviève Morin, President and Chief Executive Officer, Fondaction

Déborah Cherenfant, President, Junior Chamber of commerce of Montreal

Leïla Copti, President, Copticom

Daniel Dagenais, Vice President, Operations, The Port of Montreal

Guy Cormier, President and CEO, Desjardins Group

Magda Fusaro, Rector, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

Sarah Houde, CEO, Propulsion Québec

Anne-Marie Hubert, Eastern Canada Managing Partner, EY

Sabaa Khan, Executive Director, Quebec & Atlantic Canada, David Suzuki Foundation

Michel Leblanc, President and CEO, Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

Emmanuel Rondia, Executive Director, CRE-Montréal

Christian Savard, Executive Director, Vivre en Ville

Eric St-Pierre, Executive Director, Trottier Family Foundation

Caroline Tessier, Executive Director, Association des Sociétés de développement commercial (SDC) de Montréal

Kim Thomassin, Executive Vice-President and Head of Investments in Québec and Stewardship Investing, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec

Stéphanie Trudeau, Executive Vice President, Québec, Énergir

Natalie Voland, President and Founder, Gestion immobilière Quo Vadis