The mandate for the Environmental Task Force was transferred to the Sustainability Roundtable and then to the Roundtable on the Environment. The following material is provided for archival purposes.
The Green Economy Plan
Download the following in PDF file format:
The Green Economy Workgroup
October 20, 1999
Report body (PDF file size 206Kb)
Appendix A: Economic Competitiveness Urban Form and Environmental Sustainability (PDF file size 397Kb)
Appendix B: Improving Energy Efficiency in Toronto's Industrial Sector (PDF file size 81Kb)
Appendix C: Supporting Green Business Sectors through Community Economic Development (PDF file size 101Kb)
Appendix D: Stakeholder Input for the Green Economy Plan (PDF file size 63Kb)
A healthy environment and a vital economy were historically seen as competing alternatives- you could have one or the other, but not both. Although better accounting for environmental and social costs would mean there would be fewer of these tradeoffs, even today it is possible to identify initiatives that promote both a healthy environment and a vital economy; and competitive advantages for business as well as improved social equity. Green economic development does these things.
Green economic development is defined differently by different people, but it is agreed that it is a win-win-win undertaking. Green economic activity promotes healthy environments, vital economies, and social equity...the three tenets of sustainability.
Strengthening Toronto's Position as a World Leader in Sustainable Development
This report by the Green Economy Workgroup for the Environmental Task Force of the City of Toronto recommends policies, actions, and strategies that should be undertaken by the City. These recommendations will help the City to promote:
- a Healthy Environment- by lowering the emissions of greenhouse gases and a host of other pollutants, and encouraging businesses to reduce their input of resources and output of wastes;
- a Vital Economy- by increasing the city's competitive advantage globally; and
- Social Equity- by preserving and creating gainful jobs, providing healthy working environments, and planning for communities with quality of life in mind.
Acting on the recommendations in this report will help Toronto to maintain and enhance its position as a world leader in municipal environmental sustainability.
How to Keep Toronto a Great City
Toronto is a great city to live and work in. In business surveys (e.g. Fortune Magazine) business leaders consistently rank Toronto in the top 10 cities in the world in which to locate their businesses because of the services, amenities and quality of life that the City has to offer. Not only do Torontonians enjoy living and working in Toronto, but also the City has a unique relationship with its citizens in that it encourages a high level of dialogue, discussion, and debate. City staff work in cooperation with politicians and with community groups (a perfect example would be the development of this report for the Environmental Task Force). This type of cooperation provides the opportunity for citizen and environmental groups to provide constructive and positive suggestions and feedback on City initiatives.
Toronto has all of the necessary components to promote and benefit from the competitive advantages of the win-win-wins of green economic activity. Toronto, from a worldwide perspective, has a very unusual but powerful combination of characteristics:
- the City has an open consultation process with its citizens;
- the City has a high population density by North American standards, which provides opportunities for mixed land uses; and
- the City is very multicultural.
This mix of characteristics provides Toronto with an array of world-class intelligence and a forum for it to be heard and leaves the City poised to continue to be a great city and an environmental leader into the future.
The Role of the Green Economy Workgroup
'Increasing Toronto's municipal environmental sustainability' is a large and daunting task. In order to choose a focus for its environmental initiatives, the City held a vision and priority setting session in September, 1998. More than 100 stakeholders from across the City attended the session and discussed what their 'ideal Toronto' would look like in 20 years. A central element of the future envisioned by the participants was the concept of sustainability. From the visioning session, the Environmental Task Force recognized the need to develop four workstreams:
- Sustainable transportation,
- Sustainable energy use,
- Sustainability education and awareness, and
- Green economic development.
The Green Economy Workgroup was the last to get started and was assigned the task of addressing important sustainability issues that had not been covered by the preceding workgroups. Three workstreams within the Green Economy Work group were initiated to focus on and make recommendations concerning:
- Economic competitiveness, urban form, and environmental sustainability,
- Improving energy efficiency in Toronto's industrial sector, and
- Supporting green business sectors through community economic development.
Because the Workgroup lacked internal City staff resources, the group functioned as a steering committee rather than a workgroup and relied on independent consultants for research and coordination, and an external stakeholder consultation process to provide feedback.
The recommendations of partners, programs, and actions were developed with the input of comprehensive literature reviews, relevant case studies from both Toronto and the world, members of the Green Economy Workgroup, the stakeholder consultation process, and the professional experience of the report authors.
For the purposes of this report, green economic activity is defined to include both: means by which the eco-efficiency of existing business can be enhanced and the green business sectors which produce goods or services which, compared to other, generally more commonly used goods and services, are less harmful to the environment.
Energy is an important input into the economy. However, its use can create serious environmental problems if not managed wisely. The City of Toronto spends $3 billion a year on energy use. Energy use within the City has been rising and is contributing to local, regional and global air pollution (e.g. smog, acid rain, global warming). Deregulation is occurring in the energy industry in Ontario and high energy use on the part of the City leaves it vulnerable to price rises and spikes. Regardless of prices, energy use has cost implications for businesses within the city.
To achieve its environmental objectives, the City should follow a path of reducing energy consumption over time while at the same time increasing energy efficiency and productivity.
Energy use has implications for:
- urban form- encouraging the development of urban environments that reduce energy consumption by promoting efficient use and construction of infrastructure, municipal transportation, import substitution (buying locally), and using information and communications technologies rather than travel for business and personal needs will increase Toronto's competitive advantage;
- an energy efficiency industrial strategy- increasing energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption in industrial buildings is an important strategy for enhancing competitive advantage;
- community economic development supporting green business- encouraging businesses that reduce their input of resources (including energy requirements) and reduce transportation requirements by promoting self-sufficiency will lessen impact of rising energy costs.
The Green Economy Plan was written and commissioned between August and October of 1999. Some of the recommendations tabled require more detailed, less time-constrained research to be undertaken, and others are based on data that may, in some case, be ten years old. Toronto should act on all of the recommendations in this report: some can be acted on immediately, others may require more detailed study and data collection, and are therefore, more long term.
Focuses of The Green Economy Plan
Economic Competitiveness, Urban Form and Environmental Sustainability
There is a synergy between an urban form that supports efficient investment and economic competitiveness, and one that supports environmental sustainability. Toronto should, therefore, undertake initiatives that promote development that has benefits for the environment, the economy, and the City's population. Potential areas of synergy between urban form, economic competitiveness, and environmental sustainability include:
- encouraging the efficient use and planning of city infrastructure which increases a city's competitive advantage over other cities,
- reducing non-residential urban sprawl,
- encouraging complementary businesses to locate close to each other (clusters), and
- encouraging the use of information and communication technologies in business to reduce environmental impacts.
Many of the recommendations and strategies in this report represent new and leading edge areas of exploration in urban policy. They provide an exciting opportunity for the City to take a truly innovative approach to dealing with competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated fashion. Implementing these measures will reestablish Toronto as a leader in North America in urban innovation, and will provide benefits to the City's environment, economy, and citizens.
Improving Energy Efficiency in Toronto's Industrial Sector
The industrial sector of Toronto produces 16.7 per cent of the City's carbon dioxide emissions. The establishment of a major industrial energy and resource efficiency program is an important contribution towards meeting the City's carbon dioxide reduction commitments and improving local air quality.
A large untapped potential exists to create an opportunity for both economic renewal and improved environmental quality within the City. Through current off-the-shelf technologies, industry, the City, and the public can reap huge benefits from focusing efforts on improving energy efficiency in Toronto's industrial sector.
An energy efficiency industrial program will provide:
- economic development,
- import substitution (buying locally),
- improved productivity,
- local energy security, and
- reduced local and global greenhouse gas and reductions in other sources of pollution.
The industrial energy efficiency program recommended by this report is consistent with and complementary to the existing policies and programs of the City, offering economic development and social development opportunities. An industrial energy efficiency initiative is a large, realistic, and doable step towards enhancing the municipal environmental sustainability of the City.
Supporting Green Business Sectors through Community Economic Development
Non-traditional strategies that are emerging for investments, quality jobs, and improvements to urban environments offer both economic development and environmental protection, concepts which have been traditionally seen as mutually exclusive. These strategies centre around green community economic development.
A green community economic development approach undertaken by the City could not only mitigate some of the problems of air, water, food, shelter, and energy that exist within Toronto, but could also create economic value from energy and resource use efficiency and minimize the resources coming into and leaving the City (minimize throughput), thereby reducing negative environmental impacts.
Two ways for Toronto to promote green community economic development are sustainable urban food production and agricultural systems, and resource recovery from building materials. Toronto should undertake initiatives in these areas because these urban food production and agricultural systems, and resource recovery initiatives:
- have emerged in Toronto somewhat spontaneously without significant institutional supports,
- include businesses that can be located in neighbourhoods, or adjacent to neighbourhoods and hold the promise of significant new jobs and industries;
- utilize 'waste as food' for new productive uses and increase waste diversion from landfills; and
- demonstrate tremendous import substitution (buying locally) possibilities.
Initiatives in sustainable urban food production and agricultural systems and in resource recovery from building materials implemented by the City of Toronto would reduce Toronto's transportation energy needs, stimulate the local economy and create local jobs, through reuse add value to materials that would otherwise end up in landfills, and support Toronto's 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) objectives.
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