Toronto is releasing a new TransformTO Net Zero Strategy - an update to the TransformTO climate plan - with a target of net-zero by 2050 or sooner. This is a critical time to ramp up Toronto’s climate ambition and set us on a path to a climate-safe future.
What we are looking for in the new net zero climate strategy:
1. A clear focus on reducing emissions - and clear plan on how to get there
The new climate strategy needs to focus on reducing emissions as fast as possible. Aiming for net zero by 2050 is only the bare minimum to avoid some of the worst impacts of climate change. The new net zero climate strategy is an opportunity to align Toronto’s ambition with the latest climate science. A few critical things we’re looking to see in the TransformTO Net Zero Strategy:
- A focus on reducing emissions and achieving near zero emissions by 2040 and zero carbon emissions soon after. Toronto’s “net zero” definition should not be defined in a way that gives the city permission to continue to pollute, or focuses on “offsets” rather than reducing emissions.
- A full bundle of actions that work in tandem to achieve these targets. We can't afford more delays and this plan needs to map a clear path forward.
- Accelerated action in high-impact areas including reducing building emissions (such as through retrofits) and expanding and improving public transit and active transportation.
2. Equity and climate justice at the core of the strategy
The original TransformTO climate action strategy, passed in 2017, outlines commitments to improving social equity and health, and increasing climate resilience. We’re looking for the TransformTO Net Zero Strategy to increase and deepen its focus on equity, so we can build a more just and climate-safe city. We’ll be looking at a few areas including:
- Progress on applying the City’s own “Equity Lens” to ensure climate actions include and benefit equity-deserving groups.
- Plans to create good, green jobs and equitably grow Toronto’s green sector.
- A focus on actions to protect residents - particularly those most at risk - from climate-related harms, such as extreme heat or flooding.
- How the strategy is maximizing the health, social and economic “co-benefits” of the transition to a zero carbon city.
3. Meaningful integration of recommendations and feedback from Indigenous communities, Toronto residents, and organizations
Toronto has adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and has committed to meaningfully consult and cooperate with Indigenous communities on TransformTO. In addition, the TransformTO Net Zero Strategy should include the feedback the City gathered from residents and organizations during numerous TransformTO consultations, and its Recovery and Rebuild consultations.
We’re looking to see public input and feedback deeply integrated into this iteration of the City’s climate plan. A few examples of what we’ll be looking for in the new strategy:
- That the City has adopted recommendations from Indigenous communities, and the City is upholding the right of Indigenous peoples to participate in decision-making in matters affecting their rights.
- The extent to which the City has centred the voices of people with disabilities, racialized people, newcomers, and residents with low incomes in engagement and plan development.
- A reflection of the City’s commitment to increase youth participation, particularly youth from equity-deserving groups, in the development and implementation of its climate strategies.
- Structures the City will be putting in place to support ongoing decision-making from residents and ensure public reporting and accountability.
4. Deep connections with other City strategies and community priorities
Climate change connects to many other areas of City plans, policies and strategies; for example, the Resilience Strategy, the Official Plan, the Poverty Reduction Strategy, and HousingTO. We’ll be looking at how the TransformTO Net Zero Strategy connects to these other City strategies and maximizes opportunities to reduce emissions, increase our climate resilience, and create a more just and equitable city.
5. Full funding for the strategy
Since TransformTO was passed in 2017, the plan has been underfunded in the annual budget process, a concerning pattern also seen in other major City strategies.
It won’t be enough to create new commitments with the TransformTO Net Zero Strategy if the commitments aren’t supported by full funding in the City Budget. New climate financing mechanisms are critical, and they need to be designed and implemented in ways that are fair and equitable. Other cities are already demonstrating climate funding tools, leading the way to a liveable and climate-safe future.
The new draft TransformTO Net Zero Strategy will be released on November 25th, and will be discussed at the Infrastructure and Environment Committee (IEC) meeting on Thursday, December 2nd, before it goes for a final vote at City Council on December 15th.
Organizations and individual residents can sign up to make a deputation (a short speech) at the Infrastructure and Environment Committee or submit comments in writing. You can sign up to depute after November 25th by emailing [email protected].
The Toronto Environmental Alliance will be sharing analysis and tips for deputing ahead of the December 2nd IEC meeting. Subscribe to our email updates or follow us on social media for more ways to take action!