Developers, hospitals and universities pledge to work with City of Toronto to fight climate change

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Developers, hospitals and universities are pledging to work with the City of Toronto to fight climate change by reducing their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Green Will Initiative was released last week, when council unanimously declared a “climate emergency” in Toronto, committing to aggressive new targets aimed at reaching carbon neutral status by 2050.

Plans include becoming a green investment city “by reflecting current responsible investment best practices, excluding fossil fuels from the portfolio, and actively investing in clean energy and climate solutions.”

Institutions that have joined the initiative include the University of Toronto and developer Cadillac Fairview. They will commit to not-yet-determined targets for energy use reductions that will vary depending on the type of property and be updated every five years starting in 2025.

Under the plan, landowners will benchmark their current greenhouse gas emissions and then devise plans to reduce them, largely through retrofits and Tory says participants will save money in energy costs.

Mayor John Tory’s motion recommended that the city declare a climate emergency “for the purpose of naming, framing and deepening our commitment to protecting our economy, ecosystems and community from climate change.”

The unanimous vote also committed the city to “endorse a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target that is in line with keeping global average temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, immediately strengthening Toronto’s goal of becoming net zero before 2050.

Details of specific initiatives will be presented by the Director of Environment and Energy by the fourth quarter of 2020 – including the feasibility “of actions that could achieve net zero carbon by 2040.”

The plan also includes:

  • finding opportunities to invest in and accelerate high priority emission reduction areas in TransformTO, such as building retrofits and transportation.
  • exploring all viable and equitable financing mechanisms to adequately finance and encourage climate action.
  • engaging job-seekers, workers, unions, relevant sectors, and social service agencies in the creation of a low-carbon jobs strategy that supports a decent work agenda, career pathways for equity-seeking groups, and the expansion of green industry sectors across Toronto.

Staff will consider developing a Toronto carbon budget and report back to council next year.

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