The City of Toronto voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency and endorse a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target Wednesday morning.

Recommended by Mayor John Tory and seconded by city councillor Mike Layton, the declaration was made for the purpose of “naming, framing, and deepening” Toronto’s commitment to protecting the city’s economy, ecosystem and residents from climate change.

“This emergency declaration serves to join cities across the world in tackling climate change, framing the impact of climate change on our residents and businesses and enhancing Toronto’s commitment to a net zero carbon future,” Tory said in a news release following the initial announcement on Sept. 20.

The city joins 800 other governments including London, Barcelona, Los Angeles and Montreal in acknowledging the scale of the global climate crisis.

This comes after more than 15,000 people took to the streets of downtown Toronto on Sept. 27 for the city’s climate change rally.

Commitments in the declaration include:

  • Endorsing a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target to strengthen Toronto’s goal of becoming net zero before the year 2050
  • Looking for opportunities to invest in “high priority” emission reduction areas such as retrofitting buildings and transportation
  • Exploring financing options to fund climate actions and adaptation in the 2021 budget cycle
  • Accelerating the implementation of TransformTO, the city’s climate action strategy, at every opportunity

The declaration summary states that without a climate strategy residents and businesses will spend “billions of dollars” rebuilding homes, businesses and city infrastructure damaged by ever-stronger floods, storms, heat waves and flash freezes.

“Hundreds of governments around the world and major cities across Canada have recognized the urgency of the climate threat by declaring a climate emergency. It is time for Toronto to do the same and to take bolder action to meet our goals of reducing emissions and building a city that is greener, healthier and resilient,” the summary continued.