Toronto announces $35 million clean air plan

Toronto is looking at being a world leader when it comes to tackling poor air quality.

Mayor David Miller recently announced a new $35 million initiative to reduce emissions that cause global warming and smog. Speaking at the international Conference of the Reducers hosted by the city and organized by The Climate Group in the U.K., the mayor called for substantial new investment in energy efficiency and innovative green power-generation in city-owned facilities and operations.

"Toronto must be a leader in the worldwide challenge to deal with global warming," Miller said. "By 2010, our goal is for city-owned operations to have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent from 1990 levels. Not only will this investment help Toronto get its own house in order, it will also challenge other public institutions and corporations to reduce their energy use."

The $35 million will be used for a variety of initiatives, three of which the mayor announced to kick off the city’s plan under the new investment fund:

— A $6.4-million appliance renewal plan for Toronto Community Housing Corporation, to replace old appliances with new cost-saving, energy efficient ones. This will cut electricity use by refrigerators by as much as 50 per cent in many social-housing units. The first phase of clothes washer installations was completed in the fall, and next phase will build on this early success. The $6.4 million includes $1.05 million each from FCM and TAF. Additional external funding is being explored to try to double the scope of this project.

— A multi-year plan to install advanced energy-reducing light emitting diode (LED) lamps in the city’s 2,000 traffic signal intersections, with the first $1 million phase ready to outfit 250 intersections this year. LED’s slash electricity use in traffic signals by 84 per cent.

— A $4.2 million plan to install energy efficiency measures at civic centres and corporate facilities. Measures include efficient lighting, new boilers, motor replacements, and operator training. The project will save $525,000 annually, and reduce CO2 emissions from coal fired generation by 5,500 tons annually.

In addition to reducing local air pollution from coal-fired electricity plants, the projects will reduce the city’s budget costs by cutting electric bills, improving public safety at traffic intersections, enhancing air quality and public health, and making social housing more comfortable for tenants.

Toronto’s city-owned operations have already cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 42 per cent, from 1990 through energy efficiency programs, helping Toronto achieve a 2 per cent citywide decrease between 1990 and 1998. The Kyoto Protocol calls for a 6 per cent reduction from 1990 levels.

Additional reductions can be achieved, for example, by reaching Toronto council’s 60 per cent waste diversion target by 2006, thereby reducing methane, which is a greenhouse gas.

"As Toronto is demonstrating, city governments are capable of emission reductions that go well beyond the Kyoto target," said Steve Howard, executive director of The Climate Group, which organized the international meeting held in May.