CAMPAIGN UPDATE: Toronto’s new TransformTO Net Zero Strategy

CAMPAIGN UPDATE: Toronto’s new TransformTO Net Zero Strategy

On December 15th, Toronto City Council passed the TransformTO Net Zero Strategy, officially setting a new target for Toronto of net zero emissions by 2040. While this is a great step in Toronto’s climate ambition, and we had a number of wins to strengthen the strategy, there are still unanswered questions around how the plan will be funded and how these ambitious commitments will become concrete action. Read more about what happened, what we won, and what’s next.

The TransformTO Net Zero Strategy 

This new climate strategy updates Toronto’s previous TransformTO climate plan and outlines the pathway to get Toronto to net zero emissions by 2040. This new strategy was developed after Toronto declared a climate emergency in 2019 and committed to accelerated climate action (a big win for TEA and our community!). Read more about the strategy here. 

Our campaign 

Alongside health, environment, labour, transit and cycling groups, we put forward vital recommendations to strengthen the plan, and to ensure the new target is substantiated with climate action that is bold, ambitious and equitable. We published recommendations on key areas: accountability and reporting, equity and climate justice, areas for accelerated action (transit and green buildings), meaningful resident engagement, and funding (read more).

What we won:

Thanks to strong pressure and recommendations from community members and organizations like TEA, and critical motions from City Councillors, the new Net Zero Strategy significantly steps up Toronto's climate ambition and commitments. We also won several improvements to the Strategy during the Council meeting. These include:

  • Targets: 
    • Council passed the new target of net zero emissions by 2040, as well as a new 2025 target. Committing to the 2040 target is a big win for increasing Toronto’s climate ambition. The new 2025 interim target will help ensure we’re moving rapidly onto the right track.  
  • Stronger reporting and accountability:  
    • Annual reports on emission reductions achieved for community-wide greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) targets, and towards the near-term 2025 and 2030 goals.
    • A Carbon Budget, with associated key performance metrics that align with the City's financial budgets, to manage Toronto’s GHG emissions, within an absolute limit that aligns with the City’s 2025, 2030, and 2040 emissions reduction targets.
  • Commitments to centre equity in Toronto’s climate action plan: 
    • Creating a dedicated action area to support resident-led climate action and engagement by supporting community hubs, community centres, neighbourhood pods and other local support networks, as key social and physical infrastructure for strengthening community climate engagement and resilience. (Check out more of TEA’s climate action work with community hubs).
    • A commitment to establish a Climate Advisory Group that centres the voices of equity-deserving groups, and includes youth, civil society organizations, labour and workers' rights organizations, and academia.
  • Accelerated action to green buildings:
    • A faster schedule for the implementation of the greenhouse gas emission limits performance measure in the Toronto Green Standard (TGS) to ensure that buildings constructed in or after 2030 are near zero emissions.

What’s next: 

The Net Zero Strategy is adopted - but the City’s commitments will soon be tested as the strategy moves into the implementation phase. The plan makes commitments that will impact every area of the City’s work, from public transit, to waste management, to city planning. We’ll be watching closely. 

There are still areas where the plan must be strengthened and where the city must step up action, including developing a plan to ensure green renovations and energy retrofits don't cause renovictions or affect affordability for tenants and low-income residents, greening Toronto’s fleets and expanding public transit, and implementing complete streets and RapidTO bus lanes. The City also has further work to do to uphold its commitments to work with Indigenous rights holders. And, we will also be seeking transparency on how the City applies its Climate Lens and Equity Lens in decision-making processes. 

Funding will be one of the biggest tests of commitment. Toronto has made a number of commitments to explore fair and equitable climate financing too for sustained climate action funding, yet funding commitments have been stalled. Major decisions will be made in January when the City kicks off the 2022 City Budget process.

Join us to advocate for a budget that funds bold, ambitious and equity-driven climate action. 


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