The climate crisis grows more urgent every year, fuelled by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and global warming; 2021 has joined the list of the seven warmest years on record. Warmer temperatures are changing weather patterns and disrupting the balance of nature, which poses risks to human beings and other forms of life.

The impacts of global warming are appearing faster than expected. Canada is warming, on average, at twice the global rate. From 2010 to 2019, total insured losses for catastrophic weather events totalled over $18 billion.

According to a report by the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices, 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.

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.

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

Climate change is expected to make Toronto’s weather hotter, wetter and more extreme in the years to come. Fossil fuels are by far the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for more than 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions. To get to net zero, fossil fuels (primarily natural gas) used in our homes, buildings and vehicles need to be completely phased out by 2040.

GHG Emissions in Toronto

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

  • homes and buildings (57 per cent), primarily from burning natural gas for heating and hot water
  • transportation (36 per cent), with the majority generated by personal vehicles
  • waste (7 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 38 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.

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 Toronto.ca/LiveGreen for more information.