Toronto City Council has voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency and to adopt a stronger emissions reduction target for Toronto.

“We have joined cities around the world in declaring a global climate emergency and committing to take further action to tackle climate change,” said John Tory, mayor of the City of Toronto. “The threat of climate change is a major issue facing our city, and all cities. The declaration approved by Council today [October 2, 2019] lays out what I believe are ambitious but realistic new targets to help focus our efforts when it comes to reducing Toronto’s greenhouse gasses as quickly as possible.”

With its climate emergency declaration, Toronto is joining more than 800 cities around the world in acknowledging the scale of the climate crisis. Other cities that have declared a climate emergency include: Amsterdam, Auckland, Barcelona, Edmonton, London, Los Angeles, Montréal, New York City, Ottawa, Paris, San Francisco, Sydney, and Vancouver.

“Council’s recognition of the climate crisis brings a sense of urgency,” said Mike Layton, councillor for Ward 11 and vice chair of The Atmospheric Fund. “We must accelerate the programs and initiatives already in place, find new tools and continue to engage all communities impacted by climate change.”

A 2018 report issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stressed that global CO2 emissions need to be net zero by 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and avoid catastrophic impacts. Achieving net zero emissions in the city will require bold and robust policies and programs, and significant investment. Council directed staff to report back on how the City’s TransformTO climate action strategy, approved by Toronto City Council in 2017, could be accelerated to reach this new target by 2050 or earlier if possible.

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This month, the City is inviting residents to share their ideas on climate action and priorities for Toronto by attending a public meeting or completing an online survey. Input from residents will help to inform the next TransformTO Implementation Plan, for 2021 to 2023. The Plan will be presented to Council in the spring of 2020. The online survey will be available starting October 7 and public meetings begin October 8. More information about the City’s TransformTO climate action strategy, links to the survey and public meeting details are available here.

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