Toronto moves toward ‘zero net emissions’ by 2050

Written by Simon Lewis, CNN

Automaker Nissan Canada and Google employee Eric Schmidt are among a growing number of business leaders offering public support for a move to tax and encourage electric vehicles in Toronto.

Mayor John Tory met with those and other business leaders to discuss an objective aimed at making the city the first in Canada and possibly the world to reach a “carbon neutral” status by 2050. That goal is also referred to as a “zero net emissions” city.

About 200 businesses, including ministers from both major political parties, and key environmental organizations, were in attendance at a meeting Tuesday afternoon in Toronto.

“Toronto is the global leader in the sector,” Schmidt said in a statement. “Bringing forward the goal of an electrified city makes the most sense for us because we are uniquely positioned to lead in the sector, and because we want to help tackle climate change.”

Nissan Canada proposed a rebate of up to $2,500 on electric vehicles.

“Working together with the city, we want to support (trucks and taxis) in meeting the city’s target of reduced carbon emissions,” said senior vice president Kevin Beatty. “We also want to encourage citizens to switch from gas to electric vehicles.

Other proposals include a move to convert 20% of public buses to electric by 2030, with half of this being achieved in the first five years.

“We want to help offset the three major sources of gasoline consumption (compared to one major source of emissions) by creating an artificial demand for electric vehicles, while also aligning our economic policies,” said Beatty.

Nissan Canada, founded in 1875, has 700 workers at a plant in Toronto.

The approximately 200 business leaders in attendance include 16 ministers, including Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains.

Joe Jacob, head of city and region for Alberta Treasury Branches, supported the initiative, calling it “the right plan for everyone involved.”

“We can create jobs, put food on tables, and cut carbon emissions,” said Jacob.

The city is aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 17% below 1990 levels by 2030. At the meeting, staff presented suggestions on policies to implement to achieve that target.

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