Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: Home Heating

By: Tyler Linwood

Editor's note: We wrap-up our Reducing Your Carbon Footprint series, inspired and informed by a report from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. Previous posts provide advice on reducing your carbon footprint due to our diet, daily travel choices, air travel, home energy, and waste.

Do you remember that ad where the protagonist looks wistfully at the snow outside then asks her smart home assistant to crank up the heat and play her summer playlist? Here's the challenge with the cultural norm that ad sets: home heating systems, and the energy they consume, account for a significant portion of the greenhouse gases that we emit.

In fact, according to Natural Resources Canada, approximately 60% of the energy required to run the average home goes towards space heating and, according to the former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario's office, natural gas is the most commonly used fuel for heating Ontario homes. Natural gas is a fossil fuel, and although its combustion produces fewer emissions than the combustion of coal or oil, it's still a high-carbon fuel source that can contribute to air pollution, water pollution, and environmental degradation in significant ways.

Luckily, there are ways to reduce the amount of emissions that are generated by heating your home.

Find out what can YOU do about it after the jump.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: Home Energy

by: Tyler Linwood

Editor's note: We continue our Reducing Your Carbon Footprint series, inspired and informed by a report from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. Previous posts provide advice on reducing your carbon footprint due to our daily travel choices, air travel, and waste.

One of the best things about living in Ontario is that we already have a low-carbon electrical grid. The majority of Ontario's electricity comes from renewable sources, such as hydroelectricity or wind energy, and nuclear power. That said, energy use in our homes still accounts for a quarter of Toronto's overall emissions that cause climate change (greenhouse gases or GHGs).

The biggest factor in determining the greenhouse gas emissions from our homes is the time at which we're using energy. During peak demand times our increased demand for energy is met by firing up natural gas plants, which emit 10 times more GHGs than normal. These peak demand times occur in the late afternoon/early evening on weekdays, and more frequently on very hot or cold days.

Demand for electricity in Ontario is also likely to continue to grow due to our rising population and the adoption of new technologies that consume more electricity, such as electric vehicles. If this new demand isn't able to be met by our low-carbon means of energy production, it may mean peak demand times will occur more frequently, and energy production methods that result in more emissions will have to be used.

What can YOU do about it? Find out, after the jump.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Toronto City Council Declares a Climate Emergency

by: Sophie Plottel

On October 2, 2019 Toronto joined over 1,000 cities around the world in declaring a global climate emergency and committing to take further action to tackle climate change.

The threat of climate change is a major issue facing our city, and all cities. The declaration affirms Toronto's commitment to taking action to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting our city from the impacts of climate change.

This emergency declaration is a way of signalling the need to do more, and more quickly. It means that Toronto is now committed to becoming a net zero City before 2050. It also means that City Council will look for opportunities to invest in and accelerate taking action where possible.

As part of the emergency declaration, City Council directed City staff to report back on how the TransformTO climate action strategy, approved by Toronto City Council in 2017, could be accelerated to reach this new target of net zero by 2050 or earlier.

Among many other items, staff will also report back on how to build equity and inclusion into climate action and how to ensure there is ongoing and meaningful collaboration with equity-seeking groups and Indigenous communities.


We can't achieve our TransformTO targets without you. Find out what you can do to help.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: Residential Waste

by: Candice Keast

Editor's noteWe continue our Reducing Your Carbon Footprint series, inspired and informed by a report from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. Previous posts provide advice on reducing your carbon footprint due to our diet, daily travel choices, and air travel.

Waste Reduction Week is in full swing and we want to remind residents that there are plenty of ways to reduce your waste. Did you know that the City of Toronto manages over 900,000 tonnes of waste each year? Not only does this require significant investments of resources (money, energy), it also takes up valuable landfill space. In addition, the processing of our city's waste accounts 10% of all our greenhouse gas emissions (which cause climate change) here in Toronto, third after buildings (52%) and transportation (38%).

What you can do to help

Here are seven ways you can reduce the amount of waste you generate:

  1. Reuse: Use reusable bags for shopping and gift giving, reusable bottles and mugs instead of disposables when on the go and real dishes and cutlery at events. When shopping, consider thrift stores and garage sales. There are many businesses part of the City's free Live Green Perks program that carry a plethora of reusable items. 
  2. Re-purpose: Find new uses for things you would otherwise throw away. A few examples include using cookie tins for storage, old yogurt tubs for planters, turning old clothes into rags, using cans as pencil holders and using old jars as vases.
  3. Swap: Organize a swap with friends or attend one of the many swap events happening in the city.
  4. Borrow/share/rent: Borrow tools, party supplies, camping gear, sports equipment, board games and toys from a lending library or share things like a lawn mower or ladder with neighbours. You can also rent clothing for special events and join the Toronto Tool Library with special discounts for Live Green Perks members.
Find out more after the jump...

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Reducing your diet-related carbon footprint

by: Candice Keast

Diet and lifestyle changes are on the minds of many Canadians, especially since the release of the new Canada Food Guide and the EAT Lancet Commission's summary report on a "planetary diet." With resources like these cleaning our proverbial house before taking on the world is essential.

According to research conducted by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO). The average Ontarian consumes roughly two kilograms of food and drink per day, equivalent to spending $3,400 per year.

Source: Centers for Disease Control
The greenhouse gas emissions generated by the food production chain are significant - and growing. A major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is from farming. Methane from livestock agriculture is a more potent GHG than carbon dioxide (CO2), which means that your carbon footprint will be much higher if you consume a lot of red meat (e.g. beef, pork and lamb). In addition to GHGs produced from farming, emissions from the transportation of our food - often referred to as food miles - and from food waste also contribute to the bigger GHG emissions picture.

Find out what can you do to reduce your diet-related emissions after the jump.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: Air Travel and Climate Change

by: Byron Lee

Editor's note: We continue our Reducing Your Carbon Footprint series, inspired and informed by a report from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. In our previous post, we discussed how you could reduce the carbon footprint of your daily travel choices.

Whether boarding an airplane for your dream vacation, a business trip, or for visiting your friends and family, these marvelously fast metal tubes soaring through the sky may be great for speedy travel, but are detrimental to our climate. Air travel is responsible for approximately 2% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – if it were a country, it would be among the top 10 emitters in the world. Not to mention air travel is one of the fastest growing sources of GHG emissions with an annual growth rate far higher than population or GDP growth, according to the Environmental Commission of Ontario's (ECO) report.

Find out more, including how to mitigate your emissions from air travel, after the jump.