June 25, 2007

Council reviews climate change, clean air plans

In another major environmental initiative, Toronto's Parks and Environment Committee held a special public meeting to introduce and receive comments on a comprehensive Climate Change, Clean Air and Sustainable Energy Action Plan.

This plan represents a merger of two activities already under way, the Climate Change and Clean Air Action Plan and Toronto's Sustainable Energy Plan. It presents a series of recommendations that build upon existing programs such as Toronto's Better Buildings Partnership, the city's energy retrofit program, the Toronto Atmospheric Fund and Enwave's deep lake water cooling system, as well as policies such as Toronto's green development standard.

Central to its proposals is a set of greenhouse gas (GHG) and smog emission reduction targets. The document recommends a reduction in GHG emissions of approximately 22 million tonnes per year from 1990 levels for the Toronto urban area, including: a 6% reduction by 2012 (the "Kyoto target"); 30% by 2020; and 80% by 2050. For smog-causing pollutants, a 20% reduction target is proposed by 2012, based on 2004 levels.

The plan calls for the creation of funding programs for new programs and measures to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives. A $42-million Toronto Energy Conservation Fund, for example, would support energy conservation undertakings in city facilities and municipal, educational and medical buildings, while a proposed $20-million Toronto Green Energy Fund would support renewable energy installations in the city. Both these programs would begin in 2008. Other funding proposals include $9 million to extend the deep lake water cooling system to city hall, police headquarters and Union Station, and $13 million to continue energy efficiency and sustainability upgrades at city hall and Nathan Phillips Square.

The plan includes detailed recommendations to reduce the environmental impact and GHG emissions from industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) operations, including creation of an Eco-Roofs program to make at least 10% of the IC&I roofspace in Toronto more environmentally friendly, either by installing green roofs or renewable energy systems or alternative roofing technologies designed to address the urban heat island issue.

Other proposals in the plan seek to increase the use of renewable energy, develop a more sustainable transportation system, demonstrate municipal leadership through the greening of city operations, double Toronto's tree canopy and further cultivate partnerships with businesses, industries, research organizations, community groups, other municipalities and levels of government and international organizations. A section of the plan focuses on preparing for climate change and calls for various agencies to collaborate to prepare a report outlining a climate change adaptation strategy for the city.

The Climate Change, Clean Air and Sustainable Energy Action Plan may be requested from the city clerk's office, 416/392-6662. It will soon be available on-line at www.toronto.ca/legdocs/2007/agendas/pe.htm. More information is available from Lawson Oates, director of the Toronto Environment Office, 416/392-9744, or Rob Maxwell, manager of the Energy Efficiency Office, 416/392-1452.

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