Toronto City Council advances Toronto’s climate leadership

2023 May 10

Today, Toronto City Council adopted two significant climate reports, the 2022 Annual Report of the TransformTO Net Zero Climate Action Strategy and the Carbon Accountability Report, both identified as key items by Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park).

The reports confirm that 100 per cent of short-term actions supporting achievement of the City of Toronto’s ambitious net zero emission targets are underway or complete and that adoption of a new carbon accountability standard and process will proactively address Toronto’s future emissions.

The 2022 Annual Report outlines the City’s progress in implementing the TransformTO Strategy’s Short-term Implementation Plan (2022 to 2025). The report confirms all actions are underway with some already complete and provides an update on the five critical steps the City is taking to steer community-wide emissions towards net zero:

  • establishing carbon accountability and showing this through carbon budgeting
  • rapidly reducing significant fossil gas use
  • establishing building performance standards
  • increasing the use and adoption of low-carbon transportation options
  • increasing the amount of local renewable energy and storage opportunities

Through the 30 actions in the City’s Short-term Implementation Plan and ongoing delivery of programs, policies and investments, the City continues to lay the foundation for wide-spread community action to further reduce GHG emissions now and in the future.

Adopted by Council in December 2021, the City’s TransformTO Net Zero Strategy established accelerated implementation actions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, particularly in the short term, and set one of the most ambitious targets in North America – to reduce community-wide emissions to net zero by 2040. Leading by example, the City plans to cut GHG emissions from its own operations even faster.

Key achievements in 2022:

  • Version 4 of the Toronto Green Standard (TGS) came into effect, raising the bar once again for high-performance, high-quality, low-emissions new buildings in Toronto. The TGS continues to raise the bar on building performance and is expected to save more than one megatonne of GHG emissions by 2050.
  • More than 100 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations were installed in Green P lots. By the end of 2024, more than 650 charging ports will be installed both on-street and in Green P parking lots. An EV Charging Plan is also in development to further grow this network and support the transition to electric vehicles, supporting the City’s goal of having 30 per cent of registered vehicles in Toronto be electric by 2030.
  • A Wastewater Energy Program was introduced, facilitating one of the largest and first-of-its-kind sewer heat-recovery projects in the world to expand local renewable energy supply for buildings. Work is also underway with Enwave to expand the Deep Lake Water Cooling system.
  • A Climate Advisory Group comprising 26 members of the public with diverse backgrounds and lived experience was established to help guide implementation of the TransformTO Strategy with an equity lens.

The Carbon Accountability Report addresses the first of the five critical steps the City is taking to steer community-wide emissions and emissions from the City’s own operations towards net zero. The report outlines a process to establish multi-year emission budgets for the City’s own corporate emissions and community-wide emissions.

An annual Carbon Budget process will link City decision-making on policies, programs and projects in the annual financial budget to their expected GHG reduction impact from now until net zero is achieved by 2040. The Carbon Accountability Report also establishes a science-based corporate policy on offset credits aligned with net zero governance best practice, which will continue Toronto’s leadership in this rapidly developing space.

Community-wide GHG emissions in Toronto have been reduced by 43 per cent against 1990 levels. Significant, accelerated community-wide action is needed to reach future goals and targets, including a 65 per cent reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2040. To reach the City’s 2030 target, emissions must be cut in half in the next seven years.

The City’s operations are directly responsible for only about five per cent of the GHG emissions in Toronto. Residents, businesses, building owners and other orders of government must all play a part in significantly reducing emissions to reach future targets. Emissions stem primarily from the burning of fossil fuels (natural gas) in homes and buildings for heating and hot water, and gasoline in vehicles.

During this week’s Council meeting, Council will also consider a number of reports recommending actions that support the City’s ambitious TransformTO Net Zero by 2040 strategy:

The TransformTO Net Zero Climate Action Strategy: 2022 Annual Report  is available on the City’s website.

The Carbon Accountability Report  is also available on the City website.