As British Columbia undergoes climate-related devastation, the city of Toronto is poised to push its target to become carbon neutral by a decade to 2040.
A city officials report released Thursday proposes strategies primarily aimed at moving Toronto toward an initial 2030 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 65 percent lower than those created in 1990.
Possible actions include a city discount for electric vehicle buyers, further conversion of Toronto’s bus fleet to electric power, promotion of buildings converting from natural gas heat to electric heat pumps, and a list of requested actions from the provincial and federal governments.
“Toronto must first be on track to meet the city council’s 2030 target of 65 percent emissions reductions from 1990 levels,” says the report, which will go to a city commission next week and to city council next month.
“Without aligning our action and implementation with that steeper trajectory, net zero will be out of reach by 2040 or 2050.”
Although Toronto’s greenhouse gas emissions are decreasing every year, without changes the city would not even meet its current carbon neutrality target by 2050.
“Data show that incremental action will not be enough to get us to the net-zero trajectory,” with emissions of pollutants causing climate change in Toronto not exceeding the amount removed or offset, the report states.
The current proposals will not drastically change the lives of Torontonians. Some are accelerations of existing city initiatives. They contain:
- Establishing a “carbon budget” to help the city closely monitor climate actions against annual emissions limits, allowing for corrective action to fill any “gaps in action”.
- Setting voluntary emissions targets for homes and other buildings that will eventually become mandatory, with reporting obligations.
- Increasing access to “low-carbon transport options” such as walking, cycling and public transport, with options to “incentivize the adoption of electric vehicles and discourage the use of carbon-polluting petrol and diesel vehicles.”
- Stimulating opportunities for residents, organizations and companies to generate renewable energy and help “decarbonize” the electricity grid.
Mayor John Tory told a news conference that Torontonians can’t watch the devastating floods and landslides in BC, on the heels of devastating heat and wildfires, and think Toronto won’t suffer from climate change too.
He noted that flooding in basements is a growing problem and wild storms could flood parts of Toronto. count. Jennifer McKelvie, who studied climate change as a research scientist, warned of high-rise residents suffering in record heat.
“Toronto has a responsibility to be a leader,” and to set an example for other Canadian cities, said McKelvie, chair of the infrastructure and environment committee.
count. Mike Layton, who worked on climate change issues at Environmental Defense before entering politics, said in an interview that Toronto needs to act more aggressively to help the world avoid climate disasters.
“The level of (proposed) measures is far from ideal and we are relying too heavily on other levels of government,” Layton said, noting that Vancouver has mandated that from January new low-rise housing should only have “zero emissions equipment” for space and water heating. .
“Alarm bells are ringing all around us and if there’s ever been a time to steer the ship in the right direction, it’s now,” Layton said.