MobilizeTO proposes that Toronto declare a Climate Emergency

On March 21, 2109 members of MobilizeTO met with Michael Layton, to discuss the possibility of Toronto declaring a Climate Emergency. Councillor Layton, who had recently made a motion to align TransformTo targets for reduction of greenhouse gases, with those of the IPCC from 80% to 100% by 2050, with a 50% reduction by 2030). On an equity basis, (Toronto being 0.03% of global population) we have already exceeded our part of the carbon budget and passed the emissions threshold for 1.5 degrees. To achieve less than 2 degrees, we must strive for net zero by 2025. The urgency of the situation became clear.

To support the call for a Climate Emergency Declaration, they quoted Toronto’s role as part of C-40 Cities; recent damages from severe weather events resulting in increased insurance claims; and reports by Toronto‘s Medical Officer of Health and the Canadian Medical Association identifying climate change as as serious health concern. Climate Change, causing severe weather has already contributed to hardship by many segments of society within the City, and especially the poor homeless who are impacted first and most negatively. The benefits of climate action were also highlighted such as cost savings in remediation, energy efficiency, reduced dependency on gas supplies, less congestion and commute times, boosts to the economy, improved health outcomes, and insurability.

Many Canadian cities had already declared a Climate Emergency including Vancouver, Halifax, Edmunston, Hamilton, Kingston, Ottawa, Burlington, Vaughan and Halton Hills, as well as 306 municipalities in Quebec. The Federal Government had also recently declared a climate emergency, and it was pointed out that the declaration did not have the legal implications of a “State of emergency” but acknowledged the seriousness of the problem so that there would be more consensus when decisions were made, or resources allocated.

Subsequent to this meeting and in response to additional appeals by many other climate groups, on October 2, 2019 City Council adopted Motion MM10.3 Declaring a Climate Emergency and Accelerating Toronto’s Climate Action Plan – by Mayor John Tory, seconded by Councillor Mike Layton