May 17, 2004

Toronto to invest $35 million to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gases from city-owned facilities

Toronto Mayor David Miller last week announced a new $35-million initiative to reduce the city's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Speaking at the international Conference of the Reducers, the Mayor outlined plans for substantial new investment in energy efficiency and innovative green power generation in city-owned facilities and operations.

"Toronto must be a leader in the worldwide challenge to deal with global warming. By 2010, our goal is for city-owned operations to have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 60% from 1990 levels. Not only will this investment help Toronto get its own house in order, it will also challenge other public institutions and corporations to reduce their energy use," Miller said.

The $35 million will be used for a variety of initiatives, three of which he announced as the starting point for the City's plan under the new investment fund:

A $6.4-million appliance renewal plan for Toronto Community Housing Corporation, to replace old appliances with new cost-saving, energy-efficient ones. This will cut electricity use by refrigerators by as much as 50% in many social-housing units. The first phase of clothes washer installations was completed last fall, and the next phase will build on this early success. The $6.4 million includes $1.05 million each from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF). The city hopes to elicit additional external funding to try to double the scope of this project.

A multi-year plan to install advanced energy-reducing light-emitting diode (LED) lamps in the City's 2,000 traffic signal intersections; the first $1-million phase will outfit 250 intersections this year. LED's slash electricity use in traffic signals by up to 84%.

A $4.2-million plan for energy efficiency installations at civic centres and corporate facilities. Measures include efficient lighting, new boilers, motor replacements, and operator training. The project will save $525,000 in annual energy costs and will reduce CO2 emissions from coal-fired generation by 5,500 tonnes per year.

In addition to reducing local air pollution from coal-fired electricity plants, the projects will reduce Toronto's budget costs by cutting electric bills, improving public safety at traffic intersections, enhancing air quality and public health, and making social housing more comfortable for tenants.

Toronto's city-owned operations have already cut GHG emissions by 42%, from 1990 through energy efficiency programs, helping Toronto achieve a 2% citywide decrease between 1990 and 1998. The Kyoto Protocol calls for a 6% reduction from 1990 levels. Additional reductions are anticipated through other initiatives such as achieving Toronto's Council's 60% waste diversion target by 2006; this will reduce methane, one of the most potent of greenhouse gases.

"As Toronto is demonstrating, city governments are capable of emission reductions that go well beyond the Kyoto target," said Steve Howard, CEO of The Climate Group, which organized the international meeting held in Toronto May 12.

Prime Minister Paul Martin and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair both addressed the meeting via video messages; invited senior officials included their respective Environment Ministers David Anderson and Elliot Morley. Among the other participants in the one-day conference were John Thwaites, Deputy Premier of Victoria, Australia and a founding member of The Climate Group, as well as representatives from leading multinational companies such as Lafarge, Dupont, Shell Renewables and NorskeCanada.

Conference speakers shared information and knowledge gained through their successful mitigation efforts and offered ideas on how best to use their experience to promote effective reduction on a far wider scale. Other discussion topics included policy approaches to climate change, the role of the financial community, and reducing corporate emissions. The Climate Group also launched its new publication, Less is More, a series of 14 case studies presenting both government and corporate leaders in reducing greenhouse gas emissions internationally.

The Climate Group was formally established on April 27 by U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair as a new coalition of the world's leading reducers of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The non-profit organization is committed to harvesting the growing pool of knowledge in the area of GHG emissions reduction. For the first time, the pioneering experience of corporations, governments and financiers around the world will be captured, analyzed and made available as a learning resource for others. By mobilizing a global, solutions-oriented reducers' movement, The Climate Group aims to turn threats into opportunities, and degrees into zeroes.

"The Climate Group is looking beyond Kyoto, which is a first step in driving reductions," said CEO Steve Howard, formerly a partner in ERM where he led the consulting firm's work on corporate social responsibility. "We know that there are many leading companies and governments dedicated to meeting or exceeding those targets. By bringing the key players together for the first time, we believe that the world can turn the corner on climate change," he added.

Climate Group founding members and supporters include the German government, the states of California and Connecticut, the State of Victoria (Australia), BP, HSBC, Jysk, Lafarge, NorskeCanada and The Canadian Forest Products Association (both represented by Russell Horner, NorskeCanada president and CEO and CFPA chair), Shell Renewables, Swiss Re, Timberland, the Greater London Assembly, CARE International, Greenpeace UK and World Wildlife Fund-UK.

"We attended the launch of The Climate Group in London...and left feeling that we are now part of a very important movement that has the attention of leading nations, enlightened businesses and ENGOs. Needless to say we were proud to be associated with it," Stu Clugston, vice-president, corporate social responsibility for NorskeCanada, commented.

Selected examples of best practice can also be viewed on the Reducing Emissions page of The Climate Group's Web site, www.theclimategroup.org.

More information on Toronto's new program is available from Lucille Hodgins at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (Green Municipal Funds), 613/241-5221, ext 299; Phil Jessup of the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, 416/392-0253; or Laurie Stephens of Toronto Community Housing, 416/981-4349.

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