Today – with climate experts, decision-makers, and indigenous leaders gathered in Toronto for day one of the two-day Climate Summit of the Americas – we mark a shift in global climate leadership. Greeted by opening remarks from Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister Glen Murray this morning, it’s clear that collective regional action is paramount to progress on the road to a universal climate agreement in Paris 2015. “Provinces and states can fight climate change where federal governments have failed,” said Murray in his opening address. Wynne promised to look at how the province can enable cities to tackle climate change.
Toronto, which has achieved ground-breaking carbon reductions that at one time were considered impossible, is an auspicious location for the Summit. Cities, which are responsible for 75% of the world’s CO2 emissions and represent the most significant opportunity for reductions, are already playing a key role in tackling climate change and mobilizing collective action.
My role is to share the innovative work we do at TAF and the City of Toronto to cut GHG emissions and set high expectations. We have a great story to tell on that front: Toronto’s GHG emissions are 16% lower than they were in 1990, exceeding our Kyoto target despite major growth during this period. Other jurisdictions would do well to invest in cities to increase efficiency, ramp up infrastructure to support green energy, and support low-carbon transportation.
Based on Ontario’s announcement of an upcoming cap and trade program, carbon pricing was top of mind and top of the agenda this morning. As we’ve outlined in our blog series, Devil is in the Details, there was certainly encouragement for regional governments to move quickly and effectively on carbon price and set aggressive carbon reduction targets.
In addition to sending price signals to the market, political leaders also need to enhance requirements for efficiency improvement. California Governor Jerry Brown explained how mandatory energy efficiency regulations actually stimulate innovation and predictably reduce emissions. California has already cut emissions by 23%, and “this is just the beginning,” he said.
Renewable energy deployment has also been a focal point of the discussion. Governor Peter Shumlin presented Vermont’s increase of solar panels by ten times since 2011. Vermont’s energy mix is already 45% renewable, and their target for 2050 is 90%.
We would like to see more focus on smart development, low-carbon transportation, and resource (not waste) management. Check out tomorrow’s agenda and stay tuned as we gear up for Paris COP21 in December.