Of the thousands of governments across the world to have declared a climate emergency,perhaps the most misguided is the City of Ottawa, Canada’s capital city. For not only do the Mayor and city councilors of Ottawa believe that what they do actually has an influence on global climate, they are prepared to bankrupt the city and risk the safety of its most vulnerable citizens to put their plans in place. It doesnt seem to cross their minds that, as the seventh coldest national capital city in the world, their population might enjoy a couple extra degrees of warming every winter.

According to numerous studies, cold weather kills 10 to 20 times as many people across the world each year as does hot weather . One international study of 74 million deaths at 384 locations in 13 countries found a ratio of 20 to one as to cold related or heat related deaths. It would seem the average citizen of Ottawa would welcome a few degrees of warmth but this is not only ignored by the city government they are apparently intent on bankrupting the city as a result of their belief that Ottawa itself could affect the Earth’s temperature. They plan to spend billions of dollars of their citizens taxes to insure the city remains among the coldest of the world’s capitals.

So, instead of preparing the City for potential cooling predicted by many climatologists, Ottawa is on the verge of a self-induced crisis. They are committed to spend $57.4 billion through 2050 to fight global warming. That’s about $60 thousand for every man, woman and child in this city only million souls. The revenues to finance these expenditures would come largely from additional taxes and fees imposed on Ottawa residents, including road tolls ($1.6 billion), congestion charges ($338 million), road user fees ($188 million) and land transfer tax increases ($130 million), in addition to major increases in electricity, property taxes are expected to rise by almost 40%. Ottawa residents would also pay much higher parking fees for much reduced public parking spaces.

Equally astonishing is the magnitude of the renewableenergy projects that the City of Ottawa says it will engage in to meet its net-zero by 2050” target:

  • 36 square kilometers of rooftop solar will be required, they say, a 161,485% increase over todays levels;

  • 710 industrial wind turbines, each taller than the UK Parliaments Elizabeth Tower that houses Big Ben, and

  • 122 large shipping containers of lithium batteries for power storage.

No one seems to have considered how such monumental constructions will ever be disposed of. So, in contrast to the Citys overarching vision to transition Ottawa to a clean, renewable and resilient city by 2050,its current plans would transform Ottawa into a polluted, fragile and bankrupt city suffering from regular dangerous blackouts and business failures. Few people would voluntarily choose to live here.

In one way, the City of Ottawa has done the world a great favour, not with respect to stopping climate change, of course, a totally impossible objective, but because the Citys actions are a cautionary tale of what can and will inevitably happen when fiscal policy and hard-nosed science and engineering are subordinated to ideology and special interest, pressure politics.

Ottawa’s predicament was brought on by an obsession with stopping climate change,prioritizing it over real world environmental, health, economic and energy supply concerns. The catalysts that sparked the Citys plans were local flooding in the spring of 2019 and a series of moderate tornadoes that struck the region in late summer of 2018. Despite the floods being shown to have been caused by mismanagement of the annual run-off of melting snow that year and the fact that no tornadoes have been reported in the area since the 2018 event, local politicians saw fit—under extreme pressure from local activists—to declare a climate emergencyand direct city staff to develop a plan in response. The result is the City of Ottawas Climate Change Master Plan.

The International Climate Science Coalition of Canada (ICSC-Canada) has examined the Citys plans and found them fortunately, to be impossible to implement. The plan is dangerous to the well-being of residents and destructive of the local environment. In addition, if the Citys climate mitigation efforts were to be implemented, they would support the worst human rights and environmental abuses across the world.   ICSC Canada has published an 83-page report on its website www.icsc-canada.com/ that considers these issues in detail In part 2 of this series we will describe the issues briefly.


  • Tom Harris is executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition

  • CFACT Senior Science Analyst Jay Lehr has authored more than 1,000 magazine and journal articles and 36 books. Jay’s new book A Hitchhikers Journey Through Climate Change written with Teri Ciccone is now available on Kindle and Amazon.