The climate crisis grows more urgent every year, fuelled by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and global warming; 2023 was the hottest year on record globally and the ten warmest years have occurred in the past decade. Canada is warming, on average, at twice the global rate.

Like many cities around the world, Toronto is experiencing more frequent and extreme weather events; these include extreme heat, extended heat waves and more intense storms, which have resulted in flooding, power outages, and extensive damage to property, infrastructure and the natural environment. These changes affect the health and wellness of Toronto residents. The impacts can be direct: illness and death or injury, or indirect, by displacing people, disrupting access to essential services and resources, and further marginalizing those who are already at risk because of systemic inequities.

Costs of Climate Change

The costs of climate change are high and climbing. The costs of weather-related disasters, such as floods, storms, and wildfires, have risen in Canada from an average of $8.3 million per event in the 1970s to $112 million per event from 2010 to 2019 – an increase of 1,250 per cent. The Insurance Bureau of Canada reports dramatic increases in weather-related catastrophic losses over the last decade. Nationally, 2022 and 2023 were two of the top four most expensive years in terms of insured losses, at $3.4 and $3.1 billion respectively. Without adaptation, the dangers of a changing climate could add more than $4 billion per year to the cost of maintaining Ontario’s public infrastructure over the rest of the century.

The City of Toronto’s 2020 Financial Report includes examples of extreme weather events and the associated costs incurred to the City:

  • Rainstorm on August 19, 2005 – $44 million
  • Rainstorm on July 8, 2013 – $65 million
  • Ice storm in December 2013 – $101 million
  • High lake effect in 2017 and windstorm in 2018 – $28 million

More recently, the health cost for Ontario of the harmful air pollution from the 2023 wildfires was estimated at $1.28 billion.

GHG Emissions in Toronto

The top three sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Toronto today are:

  • homes and buildings (56 per cent), primarily from burning natural gas for heating and hot water
  • transportation (35 per cent), with the majority generated by personal vehicles
  • waste (9 per cent), mainly from landfill emissions

According to the City of Toronto’s latest greenhouse gas emissions inventory, community-wide emissions in Toronto have been reduced 41 per cent from 1990 levels.

Actions to reduce emissions in all sectors is urgently required and must be at the scale and pace required to address the crisis.

Toronto’s Target: Net Zero by 2040

Following its declaration of a climate emergency in 2019, Toronto City Council  in 2021 adopted an accelerated climate action strategy – the TransformTO Net Zero Climate Action Strategy – to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net zero by 2040, 10 years earlier than initially proposed. Toronto’s 2040 target is one of the most ambitious in North America.

Becoming a Climate-Ready Toronto

As the climate changes, cities need to plan ahead to be ready to cope with and recover from climate-related shocks such as floods or extreme heat events when they happen. Adapting early saves money, reducing the costly impacts of climate change. Building climate resilience in Toronto means considering climate impacts to the city’s green spaces, hard infrastructure, services, and the peoples who live in our communities, as well as the economic and social systems that support them.

What You Can Do

The City of Toronto is working to green its own operations, and providing supports and financial resources to help residents, homeowners and building owners do their part to meet our net zero goals. Visit for more information.