Why is it important to reach Toronto’s greenhouse gas emission reduction?

Rising global temperatures are expected to have many serious effects on human life, including rising sea levels, more frequent heat waves, stronger storms and higher rates of infectious diseases. These changes are predicted to be harsher in the near future if action isn't taken now. One of the most effective ways to prevent climate change is by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The best way to do this is by building green roofs.

Green roofs are covered with vegetation and soil, reducing the heat island effect of cities where heat bounces off pavement instead of being absorbed or evaporating into water vapour. Green roofs help cool surrounding air temperatures by reducing solar energy absorption, reduce smog levels, filter out pollutants and reduce rainwater runoff.

Toronto is in the top ten in North America when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. The city emits about 130 megatonnes of greenhouse gasses every year, which is approximately equal to half our population. Because Toronto has partnered with cities around the world to address climate change, reducing our own greenhouse gases will allow us to contribute to a global effort.

In Toronto, greenhouse gas emissions have been steadily declining since 1990 as a result of actions from organizations such as the Clean Air Partnership and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. In 2021, however, emissions increased by 1% as a result of traffic congestion and population growth.

As the size of Toronto's Population and traffic volume continues to grow, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions is expected to increase as well. The alternative building method of green roofs must be considered as a possible solution.

Toronto could greatly benefit from the construction of green roofs and their positive effects on reducing heat island effect and other heat related environmental issues.

What was done in Chicago to reduce greenhouse gas emission? 

As of 2015, Chicago has reduced its annual per capita greenhouse gas emissions by 11 percent. This is mainly due to the effects of green roofs on reducing heat island effect, increasing storm water runoff and filtering out pollutants.

The city has created financial incentive programs for property owners who agree to build green roofs. For example, property owners who build a green roof receive a 10 percent tax break for their efforts.

Financial incentives like these are one way cities can promote environmentally friendly behaviour to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

What is the city doing to help reduce our greenhouse gasses?

To address climate change, we've implemented a variety of initiatives such as: increasing green spaces and trees, increasing recycling and composting programs (we have diverted over 80 per cent of waste from landfill), moving forward with a City-wide carbon monoxide alarm program, setting up a Toronto Renewable Energy Office, improving transit options with the TTC and investing in clean technology.

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What are some of the City's goals in regard to climate change?

The city has set three goals in regards to climate change: 

  1. All new buildings will have green roofs or be built using sustainably-harvested wood;
  2. 20 percent of Toronto's energy will come from renewable sources by 2025.
  3. Emissions related to the city's greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 33 percent below 1995 levels by 2025.

What can I do to lower my household's carbon footprint and contribute to a global effort?

The City of Toronto has a number of programs and tools to help you reduce your household's carbon footprint, such as: 

  • The Green Bin Program, which allows you to keep food and yard waste out of landfills; 
  • The Drive Clean Rebate - Save up to $300 for vehicles nine years and older that emit less than 120 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre. 
  • In addition, the City has a number of incentives to help you reduce your home's energy consumption and costs!