Toronto, Canada—When Toronto first began burning coal to power its electrical grid in the early 1990s, it had just one operating power plant.
It now has 16.
Today, Toronto, which is home to about 2.7 million residents, is the second-largest city in North America and the fourth-largest in the world.
Its carbon emissions rose by a whopping 11.6% between 2008 and 2015, while the city’s electricity demand grew by 10%.
The city’s carbon footprint now accounts for about a third of its total emissions.
“This is really the first time the emissions have gone up this dramatically in a generation,” said David Zajac, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
“It’s not just a trend we’ve seen.”
It’s also the first city to experience the dramatic rise in greenhouse gases, which are the primary cause of climate change, due in part to carbon emissions from cars and factories.
While the city has been working to reduce its carbon footprint for years, Zajak said the shift is especially dramatic because of the way Toronto’s electric grid operates.
“We have one of the largest electric grids in North American,” he said.
While there are many ways to reduce emissions, Toronto’s plan to convert to 100% renewable energy is by far the most cost-effective, Zjac said. “
What that means is that we’re burning fossil fuels in the power grid and not using any of the energy, because that’s not where the money is.”
While there are many ways to reduce emissions, Toronto’s plan to convert to 100% renewable energy is by far the most cost-effective, Zjac said.
The city has committed to reducing its carbon emissions to 20% below 2005 levels by 2030, while also increasing the number of buildings that have zero-emissions power plants.
“In the last two years, Toronto has really started to really go in the direction of this new carbon neutrality model,” he added.
Toronto has already adopted the goal of a 100% carbon neutral electricity system by 2025, and plans to double the number a year until it reaches 100%.
“If we do all of this well, the city will be the third-largest energy-intensive city in the country in 2025,” Zajack said.
Toronto’s efforts to become a carbon neutral energy city have received widespread support, including from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who recently pledged $500 million to support the transition to a 100%-carbon-neutral system by 2030.
In 2016, the Canadian government also established a Climate Leadership Council, a group of Canadian mayors and mayors from across the country.
The group has recommended that cities across the nation focus on transitioning to 100%-green electricity, which it calls a “watershed moment.”
The council’s recommendation came in response to a 2015 report from the World Bank, which called for countries to move towards 100% green electricity.
Toronto is already in the process of implementing the Climate Leadership City Plan, which has led to the city adopting its first carbon neutrality city rules, such as reducing CO2 emissions by 40% by 2025 and 50% by 2030 and eliminating coal-fired power plants by 2030; building zero-carbon buildings and retrofitting existing ones to be carbon neutral; and requiring all new buildings to use zero-energy materials.
“As a city, we need to go into this thinking that we are going to get through this,” said Zajach.
“Our job is to make sure that we get this done, because we’re going to be so badly in need of it.
We are already in this process of creating a new, sustainable city.”
The Climate Leadership Plan is currently being considered by city council and is expected to be approved in 2018.
It’s a major step towards a 100 % carbon neutral city, which would see the city cut its carbon emission by 90% by 2040, according to Zajas.
It would also lead to a 20% reduction in Toronto’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
Zajjac also said he believes Toronto’s carbon neutrality is an important step in reducing its emissions.
He pointed to the fact that Canada has the second largest carbon footprint in the Western Hemisphere.
“The carbon footprint is much larger in North and South America,” he explained.
Zajajac said the transition from coal-burning to renewable energy could help reduce greenhouse gas pollution. “
But Canada is still much bigger, so we’re doing very well.”
Zajajac said the transition from coal-burning to renewable energy could help reduce greenhouse gas pollution.
“I think there is a lot of pressure to transition,” he noted.
“There are a lot more things that can be done, but the transition is a really important step.”
Zjak added that Toronto has the largest number of new buildings per capita, and has the most renewable energy facilities, with an estimated 1,800,000 installed power plants and more than 300,000 hydroelectric dams