Toronto aims for zero emissions

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Toronto's planned Lower Don Lands development will seek to achieve zero emissions of greenhouse gases – a goal announced at an environmental conference in Seoul, South Korea, chaired by Mayor David Miller.

The site east of downtown is one of 16 projects around the world that will receive assistance from a program founded by former U.S. president Bill Clinton, Miller told Toronto media during a video conference from Seoul.

The Clinton Climate Initiative is a partner with the Miller-led C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which meets every two years to discuss ways to combat global warming.

The Clinton program will provide advice on how the Lower Don Lands can generate solar and geothermal energy on-site to supply neighbourhoods to be built around the rejuvenated mouth of the Don River, Miller said.

Miller said he would like to see the development actually produce more clean energy than it needs, and feed the excess into the electricity grid.

"It's not about money," he said.

"It's about technical expertise. It's a partnership between C40, Toronto, Waterfront Toronto and the Clinton Climate Initiative."

The C40 group, whose cities are home to about 600 million people, was set up in 2005 by former London mayor Ken Livingstone.

Since then, it has become an important forum for sharing ideas about how to reduce emissions, Miller said.

"You need state-of-the-art knowledge to do that. That's the important part of the C40, transferring knowledge and expertise."

C40 set up a 10-city working group to study ways to make it easier to charge electric vehicles.

"It's early stages yet, but there are some real issues for cities, particularly in the infrastructure for electric vehicles. How do you create a set of charging stations? Where do you put them? How do you regulate that?

"Are there ways cities can work together to say, ‘This is the standard we're going to have,’ whether its Los Angeles, London or Seoul? Could we set the same standard, thereby bring down its cost, and make it far more likely that the electric vehicles will be successful?"

The group plans to attend the next international climate change summit this December in Copenhagen. It will emphasize that cities must be at the table because, while they occupy only two per cent of the land, they produce 80 per cent of the greenhouse gases, the mayor said.

Closer to home, Miller said the city has received advice from C40 on retrofitting public housing projects.

Wrapping older apartment buildings with a new layer of insulation and other retrofits could reduce the city's total emissions of greenhouse gases by some 3 to 5 per cent, Miller said.


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