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Ward 7 - Druh Farrell

Climate Update #3 – Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA)




​Climate Update #3 – Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA)

Over the next few months I will be sitting down with all City of Calgary department directors to discuss their climate action progress and learn how they plan to meet the climate targets outlined in Calgary’s Climate Resiliency Strategy.

My third meeting occurred on February 18 with the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA). CEMA plans and coordinates emergency services during major emergencies and disasters (like the 2013 floods) and has a pivotal role to play when it comes to our climate strategy.


• Disaster Risk Assessments: CEMA’s priorities closely align to the Climate Strategy through their climate adaptation activities. Their Disaster Risk Report highlights that eight of Calgary’s 13 highest disaster risks are climate-related. CEMA’s business plan also includes strategies for educating internal and external audiences about Calgary’s highest risks and how we can mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from those risks. Their Disaster Risk Explorer provides an interactive platform to share this information with decision-makers, partners, stakeholders, and the public. Their approach is based on the United Nations’ Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. This framework shifts the focus of emergency management from the traditional model of ‘incident response’ to reducing disaster risk by strengthening governance, investing in resilience, and enhancing preparedness to better respond to, and recover from, disasters. It is a proactive model with a significant focus on Climate Change Adaptation, because climate change acts as a risk multiplier for numerous environmental hazards.

• Education: Recognizing the impact disasters have on the next generation of Calgarians, CEMA has developed programming for youth and children as leaders and change-makers in building community resilience. Their Ready Squad program is aimed at educating and empowering kids to be more resilient, informed, and equipped to prepare themselves and their families for disasters and emergencies, reducing the fear and anxiety associated with these events.

• Travel Network: While CEMA’s focus is more on Climate Change Adaptation and Risk Reduction than Climate Change Mitigation, they have taken efforts to reduce their carbon footprint as a business unit. The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is a LEED Certified building, designed with such innovations as using heat generated by our servers to warm the building. They also purchased electric bicycles that CEMA staff can use to commute between the EOC and meetings with other City departments downtown.


• While CEMA recognizes the importance of measuring and benchmarking climate action progress, the team here still finds it difficult to measure its success.

• CEMA admits that their focus is more on Climate Change Adaptation and Risk Reduction than Climate Change Mitigation and Prevention. Work still needs to be done in this area.

• CEMA’s understanding of climate risk should inform and be integrated into day-to-day decision-making throughout the corporation.


CEMA is a vital department for the Climate Resilience Strategy and should spread beyond adaptation and risk reduction. Their team will continue to think about how they can better position their business to reflect the City’s Climate Resilience Strategy and focus more on climate risk prevention. The cost argument cannot be overlooked here.


Categories: Blog

This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.