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Climate change action plan passes first test at Toronto council

A sailboat drifts past the Toronto skyline. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve White

Toronto is moving ahead with a new climate change action plan.

In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, city council adopted TransformTO, a plan that will see Toronto reduce city-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

However, council did not agree to fund the $6.7 million the plan is expected to cost in 2018. Instead, councillors voted to further study the items in the plan, and prioritize initiatives based on their business – not environmental – impact.

TransformTO is expected to cost $60 billion by the time it is fully implemented.

“As a city, we need to set ambitious goals to reduce the negative impacts of climate change and increase Toronto’s resilience so we can address the very real social and economic challenges of the 21st century,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement after the vote. He also called on the private sector and other levels of government to pitch in.

“We can’t do this alone. We need to work with the other levels of government and the private sector if we want to achieve our goals and do what’s best for our residents, economy and city.”

The TransformTO Pathway to a Low Carbon Future report lists 23 strategies and three campaigns to help reach the goal of reduced carbon emissions, including having all new buildings built to produce near-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The plan also calls for changes to transit, including low-carbon energy for vehicles and a heavier focus on walking and cycling.

“We are going to build more transit including the Relief Line, make sure our social housing is viable for the long-term and that our buildings are energy efficient,” Tory said.

Some recommendations from the report:

  • all new buildings will be built to produce near zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030
  • 100 per cent of existing buildings will be retrofitted to achieve an average 40 per cent energy use performance improvement by 2050
  • 100 per cent of all transportation will use low-carbon energy sources by 2050, and
  • walking and cycling will account for 75 per cent of trips of less than five kilometres by 2050.