City Hall staff must show how Toronto can meet its climate change targets.

City Hall staff must show how Toronto can meet its climate change targets.

Last week, Toronto City Council unanimously passed a motion asking city staff to draft a plan outlining how Toronto will meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Perhaps galvanized by the Environmental Commissioner’s recent report on the province’s actions on climate – which the report described as falling short of what is needed to achieve Ontario’s targets –Council is demonstrating concern for municipal action toward the 2050 goal of an 80% reduction in GHG emissions – a target the city adopted in the Climate Change Action Plan and the Power to Live Green.

City staff have their work cut out for them. Council listed specific pieces of information that should appear in the plan, which include an analysis of the largest sources of GHG emissions (buildings and transportation); rolling out consultations with diverse stakeholders (Councillors, department staff, community leaders); and working with other municipal governments in addition to provincial and federal levels of government.

Moreover, Council is asking for annual updates starting in 2015 on the the progress the city is making toward our reductions targets. Toronto has already cut GHG emissions by 15% below 1990 levels, exceeding the 2012 target of a 6% reduction.  Reaching the 2020 goal of a 30% reduction will be much harder, so it is essential that we have a clear and collaborative plan.  And while it may seem far away, there is no time to waste in establishing a pathway to the ambitious 2050 target of an 80% reduction.

We strongly believe that this plan will lay important groundwork as we transition to a low-carbon future. Toronto has an opportunity here to establish its place as a leader in environmental responsibility alongside other cities around the world that are taking bold actions towards urban sustainability.