April 2, 2007

Toronto targets climate change, clean air in action plan framework

A framework document released by the city of Toronto for public review calls for a 6% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the Toronto urban area by 2012, a 30% cut by 2020 and an 80% reduction by 2050. These targets, based on 1990 levels, mirror recently-announced European Union goals. The framework also includes a further commitment to reduce levels of smog-causing pollutants by 20% by 2012 (from a 2004 baseline).

The framework, called Change is in the Air: Toronto's Commitment to an Environmentally Sustainable Future, provides an inventory of the major sources of greenhouse gases and air pollutants in Toronto and presents ideas for the types of strategies, policies, programs and projects needed to meet the city's reduction targets.

The document presents out 27 potential measures Toronto's government, residents, businesses and industry can take to tackle climate change and improve air quality wherever they live and work. These address reductions in the use of natural gas, gasoline, diesel and electricity; solid waste; climate change adaptation; and comprehensive initiatives. Examples include:

* mandatory green building standards for new buildings (including business and residential) by 2012;

* annual parking or motor vehicle registration fees to fund retrofits and renewable energy;

* finding opportunities to replace imports with locally-produced goods and food;

* a requirement by 2012 that all food retailers indicate the food kilometres (shipping distance) for ten commonly used types of produce;

* expansion of Toronto Hydro energy efficiency/conservation programs;

* elimination of the use of incandescent bulbs in city-owned buildings;

* conversion of all street lighting to LED by 2020;

* expansion of the city's deep lake cooling system to meet 90% of space cooling needs in the downtown core and along the waterfront by 2020;

* installation of methane collection at the Thackery landfill by 2009;

* meeting 25% of energy demand in the Toronto urban area from renewable sources by 2020;

* fostering green economic development clusters such as a renewable energy and/or sustainable design cluster; and

* doubling the city's existing tree canopy to 34%

A series of consultation sessions will begin in April, where all concerned interests--residents, large and small businesses and industries, environmental and community groups, professional associations and institutions--can learn more about the issues, provide feedback on the plan and pinpoint opportunities to take action.

The framework document is available on-line at www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2007/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-2428.pdf.

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