Toronto City Council declares climate emergency and commits to accelerating action to address climate change

October 2, 2019

Today, City Council voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency and adopted a stronger emissions reduction target for Toronto – net zero by 2050.

In recent years, Toronto residents and businesses have experienced more frequent flooding and other severe weather events. Toronto’s weather is expected to get hotter, wetter and wilder as climate risks are increasing.

With this climate emergency declaration, Toronto is joining more than 800 cities around the world in acknowledging the scale of the climate crisis including Amsterdam, Auckland, Barcelona, Edmonton, London, Los Angeles, Montréal, New York City, Ottawa, Paris, San Francisco, Sydney and Vancouver.

A 2018 report issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stressed that global CO2 emissions need to be net zero by 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and avoid catastrophic impacts. In 2017, Toronto’s community-wide emissions were 15 mega tonnes. Achieving net zero emissions in the city will require bold and robust policies and programs, and significant investment. Council directed staff to report back on how the City’s TransformTO climate action strategy, approved by Toronto City Council in 2017, could be accelerated to reach this new target by 2050 or earlier if possible.

Toronto has already implemented many innovative climate actions such as

  • Zero-emission battery electric buses in the TTC’s vehicle fleet
  • The City’s first net-zero child care centre in the Mount Dennis neighbourhood
  • $500 million in green bond issuances to raise capital dedicated to climate action
  • Expansion of building energy retrofit loans
  • New community grants program to reduce waste, and
  • A joint development partnership for low-carbon thermal networks with Enwave.

In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, climate action in Toronto supports key City Council priorities, such as improving health, economy and social equity. Making homes and buildings more energy efficient stimulates job growth and the local economy. Investments in transit and cycling infrastructure improve air quality, health and social equity.  

This month, the City is inviting residents to share their ideas on climate action and priorities for Toronto by attending a public meeting or completing an online survey. Input from residents will help to inform the next TransformTO Implementation Plan, for 2021 to 2023. The Plan will be presented to Council in the spring of 2020. The online survey will be available starting October 7 and public meetings begin October 8. More information about the City’s TransformTO climate action strategy, links to the survey and public meeting details are available at http://www.toronto.ca/transformto.