Toronto City Council voted YES to declare a climate emergency and accelerate climate action

On October 2nd, City Council unanimously voted to declare a climate emergency and accelerate climate action. Here’s what Council committed to and how together, we helped make it happen. 

This is a big win: last week, City Council voted to declare a climate emergency - and they committed to accelerate action in this Council term. By passing this declaration, City Council has acknowledged the climate crisis and committed to ensuring climate action is a top City priority. This is a significant step to get Toronto on track to building an equitable, net-zero city. 

Together, we ensured this declaration was something meaningful: 

  • When Mayor Tory announced he'd bring a climate emergency declaration to City Council, TEA mobilized to ensure a climate declaration would come with concrete commitments to accelerate local action. (Check out some of the news coverage in the Toronto Star and CBC). 
  • TEA worked with local organizations in the Toronto Climate Action Network to launch a "call to action" to City Council with 20 recommendations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bring social and economic benefits to Toronto communities. More than 60 civil society organizations signed on. (You can read the full "call to action" here). 
  • In a matter of days, more than 2000 people contacted their City Councillor and the Mayor using our online tool, urging them to vote YES to declare a climate emergency and ensure the declaration came with commitments to accelerate climate action. 
  • When the Mayor released the details of the motion (seconded by Councillor Mike Layton), it included many of the recommendations we put forward in our call to action. (Read the motion).

Council voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency and the declaration included many of the recommendations put forward by community groups and organizations, including: 

  • Endorse a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target and look at ways to achieve this target by 2040
  • Explore financing mechanisms to adequately fund climate action in the 2021 budget cycle
  • Meaningfully consult and cooperate with Indigenous communities on the development and implementation of the TransformTO climate action plan
  • Apply the City's Equity Lens to TransformTO decision-making in order to ensure that strategies include and benefit equity-seeking groups 
  • Collaborate with youth to increase their participation in the development and implementation of TransformTO
  • Apply a climate lens to evaluate the climate impacts of major City decisions including financial decisions
  • Create a low-carbon jobs strategy that supports a decent work agenda and expands green industry sectors
  • Initiate a plan to become a green investment City and exclude fossil fuels from City investments

We want to take a moment to celebrate this win - and acknowledge all the work it took to make it happen. 

But there’s a lot of work still ahead. Council will need to ensure proper funding is put behind these actions in the 2020 City Budget. The City of Toronto will also be developing the next short-term (2021-2023) implementation strategy for the TransformTO climate action plan. 

TEA will continue work to ensure City Council follows the commitments they made to fast-track emission reductions, commit to critical climate funding, build equity and inclusion in climate action, and ensure meaningful resident participation. 

Toronto City Council said this is an emergency - so we expect them to act like it. 

Sign up for email updates from TEA to stay up-to-date on decision-making at City Hall and opportunities to raise your voice for climate action.