City council asked to endorse net zero greenhouse gas emissions target for Toronto

Sep 26 2019, 10:23 am

Mayor John Tory announced on Thursday that at city council’s October 2 meeting, he will ask council to endorse a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target for Toronto.

The updating of this target will ensure that the city moves more swiftly to address climate change and its catastrophic impact on residents and businesses.

Council will be asked to endorse the target as part of the climate emergency that, Tory announced last week, the city is joining 800 other governments in declaring.

The motion puts forward a series of recommendations, including but not limited to:

  • For city council to declare a climate emergency for the purpose of naming, framing,
    and deepening the city’s commitment to protecting the economy, the ecosystems and
    the community from climate change.
  • Endorsing a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target that is in line with keeping global average temperature rise below 1.5C, immediately strengthening Toronto’s goal of becoming net zero before 2050 and request staff report back by Q4 2020 on the feasibility of actions that could achieve net zero by 2040.
  • City council committing to:
    • Seeking opportunities to invest in and accelerate high priority emission
      reduction areas in Transform TO, such as building retrofits and
      transportation, as part of the 2020 budget.
    • Exploring all viable and equitable financing mechanisms to adequately
      finance and encourage climate actions and adaptation in the 2021 budget
      cycle.
    • Accelerating the implementation of TransformTO climate actions at every
      opportunity.
    • Engaging job-seekers, workers, unions, relevant sectors, and social
      service agencies in the creation of a low-carbon jobs strategy that
      supports a decent work agenda, career pathways for equity-seeking
      groups, and the expansion of green industry sectors across Toronto.

In 2017, Toronto city council approved the TransformTO plan to reach greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets of 80% reduction by 2050 based on 1990 levels. The plan offers strategies that are now underway to achieve Toronto’s established carbon reduction goals.

Major initiatives have already been put into motion, including retrofitting Toronto Community Housing buildings, and the successful issuance of one of the first municipal green bonds in Canada.

“We are taking action now to address climate change faster for our residents and for future generations,” said Tory in a release. “I am committed to working with council, other cities, the province, and the Government of Canada to reach these updated greenhouse gas targets. I am confident that we will spend far more dealing with the damage caused by climate change if we don’t take action now.”

With files from Ainsley Smith.