Canada has committed to a target of reducing carbon emissions to 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and to achieving net-zero status by 2050. To achieve these challenging targets, immediate action must be taken in our cities – the source of 60% of Canada’s carbon emissions.
Hundreds of Canadian municipalities have now declared climate emergencies and created ambitious carbon action plans. Municipal leaders are a driving force for reducing carbon, but we can’t expect them to go it alone. Success will only come when all community partners come together to deploy local solutions.
LC3’s Theory of Change (ToC) is meant to illustrate how we will activate urban climate solutions that have the potential to achieve full-scale implementation across Canada, and how we intend to bridge the implementation gap to enable the full-scale deployment of solutions that benefit all Canadians.
WHAT IS OUR THEORY OF CHANGE?
LC3’s Theory of Change (ToC) illustrates the impact that the LC3 Network aims to achieve, the process through which we intend to work towards that impact, and the underlying assumptions. The ToC clarifies LC3’s unique role within a broader ecosystem of stakeholders, change agents, and the communities it serves, and identifies how these stakeholders have a role to play to achieve LC3’s vision for Canadian communities. The ToC also introduces LC3’s Performance Measurement Framework, which serves to:
1) measure progress towards our vision and assess our long-term impact;
2) provide insights into the effectiveness of the Network’s principles, approaches and activities; and
3) continuously improve our strategies and drive innovation through learning and adaptive management.
HOW TO READ OUR THEORY OF CHANGE DIAGRAM
The starting point is at the far left of the image and the destination, our vision, is at the top. The path outlines how we intend to reach that vision, starting with our signature approaches and guiding principles that act as the foundation of our work. Moving through that path, we outline the short-term and long-term outcomes that we strive for and the lenses we use to evaluate that work. These outcomes contribute to our intended impact, which combined with a broader ecosystem of actors and institutions, enable us to achieve our vision.
- The role of LC3 is not to directly deliver carbon reductions at scale, but to use its resources to catalyze breakthrough solutions and enable their broad implementation by other parties.
- By working together in a national network, LC3 Centres will expedite peer-to-peer learning and support and facilitate the scaling out of proven low-carbon actions among regions. It will also streamline national reporting and communications and create useful economies of scale for provision of shared services.
- By applying a GHG potential lens informed by the principles of scale, LC3 Centres will ensure that their investments are supporting initiatives with the highest emissions reduction potential and positioning them for full-scale adoption locally and across the country.
- By applying a community benefits lens informed by the principles of equity, LC3 Centres will stimulate the intentional design of climate actions for multiple benefits, which will attract diverse collaborators, open the door for fresh new approaches, and lead to a more equitable distribution of benefits and broad support across diverse constituencies.
- By sharing a common set of indicators, LC3 Centres will be positioned to make “apples-to-apples” comparisons of their impact across the country to facilitate learning from each other’s successes and failures, allowing for improvement of local outcomes for all.
- By testing these assumptions periodically, the LC3 Network will maintain a critical outlook and adopt a learning-focused, responsive approach to adjust these as needed to improve outcomes.
OUR VISION FOR CANADA’S FUTURE
The 2050 Vision represents the ultimate change we are seeking. Specifically, we want to see all Canadian cities achieving or surpassing their existing emission reduction targets to ensure that progress is being made towards the achievement of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The vision aligns with the federal government’s commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. However, we acknowledge that in that vision, deeper outcomes may be called for, including faster reductions and/or transition beyond net-zero (to “climate positive” status by delivering additional environmental benefits and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere).
The Conditions of Success are the external elements we believe must be in place to achieve this vision. The breadth and depth of the changes required to reach this goal cannot be achieved in isolation. A comprehensive list of these conditions was outlined during the development of LC3’s ToC. However, the visual illustrates the three broad areas where change opportunities exist, including:
1) The knowledge, practices and mindsets of diverse communities, which are both shifting and influencing a transition to a more equitable, resilient and prosperous low-carbon future;
2) A low-carbon, sustainable economy that reimagines industry and supports a new workforce and technical capacity through public and private capital that is predominantly invested in climate-resilient solutions; and
3) Renewed governance, engagement and leadership, meaning the policies, practices, capacity and structures that can support a more democratic, just and diverse process.
As such, this ToC recognizes the role that all community partners – civil society groups, businesses, learning institutions, investors, and funders – must play to establish those conditions in support of such a transition.
LC3’S ROLE & INTENDED IMPACT
In support of that vision, the 2030 Impact refers to the role LC3 plays in service of achieving the vision. Specifically, this is a role of activating the systems changes needed to accelerate the transformation towards our vision– for example economic changes such as carbon accounting; institutional changes such as perception and response to climate change risk; social norm changes such as public attitudes towards vehicle sharing vs private vehicle ownership; or policy changes concerning new standards and regulations for net-zero retrofits or new construction.
This impact statement also signals LC3’s enabling role within a much larger ecosystem and acknowledges that LC3 Centres are not the entities that will deliver carbon reductions themselves, but they will increase the likelihood that proven carbon solutions will achieve scale by supporting projects that are specifically designed to address the barriers or leverage the drivers that can lead to deployment at scale.
The LC3 Impact Indicators will be used by all LC3 Centres to select grants and investments, to design internal programs and projects, and to assess the outcomes of these initiatives over time through a common evaluation framework. There are six indicators:
- Enabling GHG Reduction, to assess the extent to which selected projects are focused on opportunities which contribute to areas of significant carbon reduction potential;
- Supporting Community Benefits, to assess the extent to which initiatives are specifically designed to enable other community benefits;
- Activating Scale Pathways, to assess the extent to which initiatives understand and are explicitly designed to achieve scale through one or various scale pathways;
- Supporting Job Creation, to assess the extent to which initiatives have the potential to create new jobs;
- Strengthening Equity, to assess the extent to which our work is continuously advancing solutions that are both equitably designed and distributed (indicator under development);
- Enabling Financial Capital Flow, to assess the extent to which our work is stimulating new financial capital commitments over time (indicator under development).
The Short-Term Outcomes represent the three to five-year changes we are seeking. This is the foundational work that we believe is important in the shorter-term to contribute to broader long-term changes, meaning our convening efforts, our investments, and the dissemination of knowledge across governments, civic institutions, community partners and the private sector. Specifically, we want to increase access to resources such as knowledge, networks, tools, and finance to support and engage diverse leaders at the community level. We want to increase knowledge, skills and awareness, including systems thinking by partnering across sectors to help us identify and remove barriers that are preventing the scale-up of equitable low-carbon solutions.
The Long-Term Outcomes represent the five to 10-year changes we are seeking. Specifically, we want to enable significant GHG reductions in LC3 communities through solutions that deliver multiple community benefits in a more equitable manner. While the short-term outcomes in our ToC path are a precursor of the long-term ones, we recognize that this is not a linear process but rather one where our strategies and outcomes influence one another to shift the mechanisms and structures that will enable us to accelerate our transformation towards a net-zero future and beyond.
THE LC3 MODEL
Our Shared Approaches represent the tool set that LC3 will leverage to support its vision. This includes:
Strategic grants and programs to turn locally relevant initiatives into scalable solutions and shared national programs;
Policy reform to advance and accelerate the implementation of favorable policies and new standards;
Impact investing to strengthen the financial viability of projects delivering positive social, economic and carbon reduction benefits; and
Peer-to-peer networking to amplify our impact by accessing diverse skillsets and leveraging economies of scale and synergies in areas of common interest.
In parallel, by embedding our shared scale and equity principles, we confirm our theory that scalable solutions that support economic prosperity and community well-being will generate more durable and democratic solutions. This also speaks to our assumption that by making carbon reduction more equitable and relevant to diverse communities, we will have adequate support for advancing durable changes and significant emission reductions by 2050.
Supported by annual learning summits, drawing from synthesized lessons from all seven local LC3 Centres’ activities and insights, we will re-visit the assumptions inherent in our ToC to assess their validity. This provides a regular opportunity to revise our thinking, discard strategies that are not working, and continuously strengthen our approaches to improve overall outcomes.