A new publication was released by The Atmospheric Fund (TAF) on December 13, reporting emissions data for 2019 and 2020 in the Region of Durham, Halton Region, City of Hamilton, Region of Peel, and City of Toronto – home to 7.7 million people and representing 44% of Ontario’s emissions. 2019-2020 Carbon Emissions Inventory in the GTHA provides data on the major sources of emissions across the region: buildings, transportation, industry, waste, and agriculture, with the greatest amounts coming from buildings (45%) and transportation (35%). Comparison over the five years since 2015 shows emissions moving in the wrong direction – up by about 2.0%, despite decreases in emissions due to the pandemic in 2020. The report concludes that the GTHA is not on track to reduce emissions in line with local or international 2030 climate commitments, makes policy recommendations for municipalities. The TAF report gives examples of the technological changes required, and states that only leadership is missing.
In November, the City of Toronto announced that it would accelerate its net-zero target from 2050 to 2040, with interim goals of a 45 per cent reduction in GHG levels by 2025, and 65 per cent reduction by 2030. The plan will be debated on December 15, and the Council will also be considering four other potentially high-impact policies: TransformTO Net Zero Strategy, Toronto Hydro’s Climate Plan, and two transportation by-laws that can significantly reduce carbon and air pollution.
The North American Climate Summit held in Chicago from December 4 to 6, 2017 brought together the mayors of 50 cities from Canada, Mexico, France, and Tanzania, to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris Agreement and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. The mayors signed the Chicago Climate Charter , which is not legally binding but commits the municipalities to at least match the emissions reductions goals of their home countries, and sets out reporting mechanisms. The Summit was also the setting for the 5th annual 2017 C40 Cities Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards, which recognized exemplary city programs from around the world (none of the winners was Canadian). The Summit was co-sponsored by the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.
U.S. cities in particular are keen to demonstrate their climate change-fighting resolve – many through the “We are Still In” coalition which formed after President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and which was very active at the COP23 meetings in Bonn. Additionally, the Sierra Club has published the Cities are Ready for 100 2017 Case Study Report , highlighting the U.S. cities which are committing to a 100% Renewable Energy target. Disappointingly, on December 4, Bloomberg News reported that the Trump administration has terminated the Community Resilience Panel for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems, an interagency group created under President Obama to help municipalities protect their residents against extreme weather and natural disasters.
In November, the City of Vancouver updated its Renewable City Strategy, setting an interim 55% renewable energy target for 2030, which covers electricity, heating and cooling, and transport. For a discussion of Vancouver’s progress, see “Can Vancouver achieve 100% renewable energy?” in The Vancouver Sun (Nov. 5).
A newly released survey conducted by the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology investigates the progress in climate adaptation planning in 468 cities worldwide – 298 of which were in the U.S., 26 were in Canada. Results show that 92% of Canadian cities are pursuing adaptation planning, compared to 68% worldwide, and 59% in the U.S.. The top ranked impacts identified by cities that conducted assessments were: increased stormwater runoff (72%), changes in electricity demand (42%), loss of natural systems (39%), and coastal erosion (36%). Other important issues were loss of economic revenue, drought, and solid waste management. The report, Progress and Challenges in Urban Adaptation Planning: Results of a Global Survey is available at: http://www.icleiusa.org/action-center/learn-from-others/progress-and-challenges-in-urban-climate-adaptation-planning-results-of-a-global-survey, and summarized at: http://www.icleiusa.org/blog/survey_us_cities_report_increase_in_climate_impacts_lag_in_adaptation_planningworldwide-progress-on-urban-climate-adaptation-planning. For a policy perspective, read the David Suzuki blog “Canada’s Success depends on Municipal Infrastructure Investments” (March 13) at: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2014/03/canadas-success-depends-on-municipal-infrastructure-investments/. For a more anecdotal report which names and describes some innovative Canadian municipalities, see “Five Canadian Communities Fighting Climate Change That You’ve Probably Never Heard of Before” from the DeSmog Blog at: http://www.desmog.ca/2014/04/03/five-canadian-communities-fighting-climate-change-you-ve-probably-never-heard-of-before. It describes Dawson Creek, B.C.; Guelph, Ontario; Varennes, Quebec; T’Sou-ke First Nation, B.C.; and Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. An overview of the Upwind-Downwind Conference of municipalities in Hamilton in March, and a summary of Hamilton’s climate action initiatives, appears in “Ontario Municipalities take Action on Air Quality and Climate Change” at: http://www.alternativesjournal.ca/community/blogs/current-events/ontario-municipalities-take-action-air-quality-and-climate-change.
A new report from the Pembina Institute and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund presents policy options, innovative ideas, and examples from other countries of strategies that would reduce emissions, chiefly by greening delivery fleets and optimizing trip planning through sophisticated information sharing. Directed at government and business, this report also has implications for workers, particularly those in the transportation and delivery sectors, as well as the warehousing, manufacturing, retail and food services industries.
See Greening the Goods: Opportunities for Low-Carbon Goods Movement in Toronto at: http://www.pembina.org/pub/2536.