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Landmark report shows how Toronto can meet its climate change goals

Reaching the 2050 goal will require some significant changes.

A file photo of the city hall green roof in 2010.

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A file photo of the city hall green roof in 2010.

Toronto will need to make big changes to meet its long-term greenhouse-gas goals, according to a landmark report.

The TransformTO report says it is “technically feasible using presently available technologies” for Toronto to meet its goal to reduce greenhouse gases by 80 per cent in 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

But it will take significant resources and lifestyle changes to meet the target, with the report noting that “no time should be lost in scaling the effort.”

Through a spokesperson, Mayor John Tory told Metro that he “looks forward to the item being debated at the next Park and Environment Committee” meeting next week. He added that he is “supportive of green retrofits in our housing stock,” has demonstrated “repeated support to build more transit” and cited the mayor’s Towering Challenge to encourage waste diversion in high-rises among his support for green initiatives.

The hefty report lays out two scenarios for Toronto’s greenhouse gases: the business-as-planned scenario that includes current initiatives and the low-carbon scenario that would meet the goal.

The low-carbon scenario would need Torontonians to halve the percentage of trips taken by car compared to 2011 levels. Torontonians would also need to live in half the residential floor space and send one-sixth the amount of waste to landfills, compared to the 2011 baseline.

Other ways that the city can meet its greenhouse-gas goals include increasing density, encouraging people to walk or bike to work and replacing the city’s fleet with electric vehicles.

David Miller, the former mayor and current president of World Wildlife Canada, indicated his support for the plan. “The actions in this report, if adopted by City Council, will again place Toronto at the forefront of environmental leadership,” he told Metro in a statement, adding that doing so would also make the city more economically competitive.

Long-time environmentalist and city councillor Gord Perks welcomed the report, which he called the first time a North American city has produced an in-depth plan for its long-term goals.

“This is the most comprehensive roadmap I have seen,” he told Metro.

But he added that results wouldn’t come easily.

“This plan requires deep and fundamental change,” he said, explaining that our current lifestyle can’t continue.

“I don’t know that the current administration has the courage to make these changes,” he said, citing a 2017 budget vote against putting $1.22 million into the short-term TransformTO plan — one of his “deepest disappointments” on council.

While Toronto is on track to meet its greenhouse-gas target for 2020, the short-term TransformTO plan requires $320 million to $866 million in investment between various orders of government and the private sector between now and 2020.

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