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Toronto adopts renewed climate actions

Apr 18, 2024 | Public | 0 comments

Toronto’s goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2040 is at risk unless transformative actions are taken across all orders of government, businesses and residences, the city says. This includes making buildings more energy efficient and investing in a carbon-free electricity grid.

The city adopted a renewed series of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as it released its first Annual TransformTO Net Zero Progress and Accountability Report yesterday.

“What this report tells us is that our actions are making a difference, but it also clearly shows that we are a long way from achieving our 2040 targets,” said Councillor Dianne Saxe. “The time to do more is now, and we have set in motion a coordinated and renewed approach that ensures long-term climate resiliency in Toronto.”

The report outlines how climate accountability requires a renewed focus and highlights the moderate progress made to address critical steps since the net zero strategy’s adoption in December 2021.

Stopping the use of fossil fuels to heat buildings and power transportation are crucial in this matter. The Toronto Green Standard has been addressing new buildings while various city-led projects and programs are working to reduce fossil gas consumption in existing buildings.

One of the biggest impacts in existing buildings could come through Emissions Performance Standards (EPS), the report states. The environment and climate division is developing a by-law for council to adopt in 2024 that would establish requirements for all buildings to eventually meet reasonable and achievable performance standards that limit their GHG pollution. Meeting those standards could come through technologies like heat pumps that save money annually and run on clean electricity.

To boost efforts, city staff are recommending a fully coordinated, integrated and equitable city-wide approach to making assets, services and communities more resilient. Staff will report back to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee in the fourth quarter of 2025 with a new governance approach that integrates climate resilience into decision-making.

The next iteration of the TransformTO Net Zero Implementation Plan for 2026-2030 will also be developed with a timeline, resources and processes for the next generation of policies and programs to reach net zero by 2040. The plan will include targets for the installation of clean technologies and mechanisms to track Toronto’s progress towards these goals.

Also this year, as part of the first annual carbon budget prioritization process, the city will start identifying more actions to reduce GHG emissions for decision-making as part of the 2025 budget process.

Climate adaptation is a key focus in the report as more extreme weather events are predicted. Data suggests that by 2080 Toronto will experience a 19 per cent increase in annual precipitation and extreme rainstorms with 30 per cent more rainfall than the historical baseline (1971-2000). This could cause flooding, infrastructure damage and severe disruptions to services.

Extreme heat events are also accelerating in Toronto. The number of days per year with temperatures above 30°C has increased to about 18 days annually from an average of eight days in the 1950s.

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