February 14, 2019 1:00 am
Updated: February 21, 2019 9:06 pm

Toronto’s plan to address climate change and how you can help

WATCH ABOVE: Transportation, waste, pollution are just a few of the things we add to everyday. But there's a change underway to convert Toronto into a low-carbon city. Minna Rhee looks at the TransformTO plan.

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Thirty-three per cent: that’s how much Toronto’s greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced since 1990. While it’s a healthy start at a greener city, a larger goal awaits, namely, reducing overall emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

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The city first established the aggressive goal in 2007 and reconfirmed it in 2017 with TransformTO, Toronto’s ambitious climate-action strategy.

Today, the multi-pronged initiative involves the participation of numerous stakeholders in the city—from government bodies to businesses and citizens.

“Many of the easier, incremental changes have already happened. The kind of change we’re collectively undertaking is much more transformative now,” says Linda Swanston, program manager with the City of Toronto’s environment and energy division.

“That’s why it’s called TransformTO. We’re looking at transformational changes to how we live, commute, build and more.”

What can you do help? Here are some ideas, presented in partnership with Live Green Toronto.

Live Green Toronto

Transportation

Toronto’s goal: 75 per cent of all trips under five kilometres will be walked or cycled and 100 per cent of vehicles will use low-carbon energy.

How you can help: Need to make a short trip around your neighbourhood? Grab your sneakers or your bike and leave the car at home.

If you drive a vehicle, avoid unnecessary idling and if you’re in the market for a vehicle, opt for a fuel-efficient one – electric and hybrid vehicles are a more earth-friendly choice, suggests Natural Resources Canada.

Waste

Toronto’s goal: 95 per cent of waste will be diverted from the landfill.

How you can help: While all recycling and green bin efforts are important, there’s more you can do to reduce your waste. Choose products with minimal packaging, pack your lunch in reusable containers and shop at second-hand stores. Many retailers (including a number of Live Green Perks businesses) offer discounts for using your own containers or packaging.

You can also be a waste diversion leader in your community by organizing swap events or becoming a 3Rs ambassador. It’s a designation the city can afford you by attending waste reduction training sessions.

Instead of going the traditional route of a mass communications project, the 3Rs Ambassador Program empowers community-based volunteers to directly motivate fellow citizens.

Read more: 6 ways to be a green leader in your community

Homes

Toronto’s Goal: 100 per cent of existing homes and buildings will be retrofitted for energy efficiency.

How you can help: While you’re probably already using LED bulbs and turning off lights and appliances when not in use, there are bigger changes you can implement.

Consider sealing drafts around windows and doors and running appliances when they’re in full capacity, preferably during off-peak hours. Considerably larger changes could include installing a green or cool roof on your home, adding insulation to your home, installing energy-efficient windows and more, Swanston says.

When it comes to investing in your house, Natural Resources Canada suggests installing a programmable thermostat to conserve energy when you’re not at home. Thermostat companies such as NEST even offer savings calculators that can give you an idea of how much money you’ll save by using their product.

Read more: Looking to improve your home and lower energy bills? Here are 5 areas to focus on

There are still even more ways to green your lifestyle to help Transform TO. Check out livegreentoronto.ca to learn more about the changes you can make and the programs and resources available to help you —everything from a Home Energy Loan Program to Bike Shares to Waste Reduction Community Grants.

“The website spans the full spectrum,” says Swanston. “As climate change is in the news more and we experience more extreme weather events, folks who haven’t ever really thought about trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may want to do their part.”

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